As your best friend gets older, you may notice them starting to slow down a little. It’s a perfectly normal and an unfortunate part of watching them age. Where they used to stand guard and have bursts of energy, you may find yourself getting more cuddles and feeling increasingly protective. While one of the perks to COVID has been spending more time with them at home, we understand you’d probably like to get back to some international travel when you can. The question is, is this a safe option for your older pet?

Speak to their veterinarian

Since you and their doctor know them best, it is ultimately up to the both of you to determine whether you think your older BFF is healthy enough to fly. In general, as long as your senior pet has no health concerns, it should be okay. But be sure to get confirmation on that, including a checkup and blood work as needed, as well as professional recommendations. Naturally, it is very important to bring with you any medication they may need and arrange for it to be administered on Travel Day if you can’t be the one to do it yourself.

Research the rules and regulations

Different countries and airlines abide by different protocol. So be sure to investigate and directly speak with someone who can provide all the information you need on how and if you should bring your elderly friend along in your travels. In addition to their age, size is often a big variable when it comes to travel. Seniors should typically travel in-cabin, but you will not usually be allowed this option with a bigger dog. Finally, determine what immunizations they are required to have in order to fly.

Avoid sedation at all costs

Some people suggest avoiding sedation in general, particularly if your pet has to travel in the cargo area. That’s because it’s important that they spatially aware to be able to control keep their balance as the plane moves back and forth. Another major reason, however, is safety. Any animal in general—but particularly a senior—may have an adverse reaction to sedatives. If you can keep them with you in the cabin, simply offer them praise and affection to help ease any anxiety.

Keep them happy and protected

 There are various other ways to help your senior pet through international travel. Avoid summertime for the heat, try booking nighttime flights so they are tired, and bring their favourite toy as a source of comfort and entertainment. Be sure to give them lots of breaks before and after, and remove them from their carrier if you ever see them in distress. It’s a good idea to bring wipes and doggy bags in case they have an accident—and to find an emergency vet near where you are staying in advance of your travels.