Heat can pose a danger to pets when traveling by air, and many airlines have restrictions.
Vets advise residents not to travel with pets in summer
ABU DHABI // Pet owners are being advised to keep their animals in the country instead of putting them through the stress and potential hazards of air travel during the hot summer months.
“I would like to emphasise that there is no need to transport pets during the summer holidays,” said Margit Muller, a veterinarian and director of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, which also manages an animal shelter and pet-care centre.
“It is much better for the pet to stay in a pet hotel like the pet hotel of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital Pet Care Centre where the animal is very well cared for. This considerably reduces the stress for the pet caused by transporting them.”
Abhi Chhetri, pet-relocation adviser for the American Veterinary Clinic (AVC) in Abu Dhabi, also recommends waiting until autumn to transport pets overseas.
“It’s best to wait for the cooler months of the year, probably September or October, and not to ship them during the summertime,” Mr Chhetri said. “Even though it is hard for the family to leave their pets behind, that’s for the health of the pet, it’s better to leave them behind and relocate them during the cooler times of the year.”
When flying, pets are typically held in a climate-controlled compartment at the front of the plane where they remain unattended while the plane is in flight. The potential for overheating and dehydration arises when the animals are in transit in countries with a hot climate, Mr Chhetri said.
“When the plane lands and when they have to wait for the clearance during handling, some of the airports might not have good air-conditioned facilities. So maybe the pets have to stay outside in the heat,” he said.
For this reason, most airlines, including Etihad, Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa and KLM impose a travel embargo from May to October.
Etihad may refuse to board any pet as cargo or checked baggage when the runway temperatures are above 29°C or below 7°C at the departure airport.
KLM and British Airways said they re-evaluate the carriage of pets from or through any city on route when temperatures exceed 29°C.
According to pettravel.com: “Lufthansa understands the additional risk to live animals transported during the higher temperatures of summer and lower temperatures of winter. Your pet may not be granted boarding if the temperature in any city on your itinerary is forecast to be above 85°F (29°C) or below 40°F (4°C).”
Many airlines, like Emirates, also refuse to fly snub-nosed animals at any time during summer.
“Emirates will only accept the following snub-nosed breeds from October 1 through April 30 in crates one size larger than the normal measurements require: Boston terrier, boxer, Brussels griffon, Chinese pug, chow chow, Dutch pug (mopshond, mops hund, carlino), English toy spaniel, King Charles spaniel, valley bulldog, French mastiff, lhasa apso, Japanese chin chin, Japanese spaniel, Japanese pug, Pekinese, pug, shar-pei, shih tzu, Tibetan spaniel. Cats include American Burmese, exotic, Himalayan, Persian and British shorthair,” according to pettravel.com.
Mr Chhetri said the AVC has heard of cases of people abandoning their pets when they return to their home countries, because of the travel restrictions. Dr Muller also noted an increase in the number of pets dropped off at the shelter in the summer.
“We have heard cases of it, we know some pets are being abandoned, but we don’t really come across a person who says, ‘Oh, I need to abandon my pet’, because if a person wants to do it, they will just leave them behind and then some people or some agencies find the dogs,” Mr Chhetri said.
Andy Taylor, of the UAE-based logistics company Move One, says the busiest time for transporting animals is also the hottest time of the year.
“Most people move between June and September, so that’s the busiest time we are with pet transportation,” said Mr Taylor, whose company transports about 700 pets a year around the world. “It’s not like shipping cargo, it’s not like shipping personal effects, most people look at shipping their animals as though they’re shipping part of their families, because it is part of their family.”
He advised pet owners to “get as much detail as possible and make sure the pet is looked after in the transit process”.
“Make sure the animal is young and is able to handle it. Make sure you look at the transit points, make sure it’s as direct as possible for the animal. Look into the shortest transit area as possible. Definitely look at the transit points, whether they have a walking area for when the animal is in transit. Just keep the animal well, give it plenty of water before it leaves, obviously no food. The animal can be sick. Check with the transport company to make sure they have knowledge to transfer the animal.”