How to Prepare a Pet Crate for Air Travel Inside and Outside

Know exactly what must and should be inside and outside your Pet’s Cargo Crate so it is IATA and Airline Compliant. These 11 items are essential for a properly equipped Pet Crate for travel in Cargo including: Documents, Live Animal and Directional Stickers, Extra Bottles of Water, Funnel, water and food bowl and zip-ties.

1. YOUR PET CRATE FOR CARGO MUST HAVE COPIES OF DOCUMENTS IN A CLEAR SLEEVE

Tape to the top of the crate in a clear, water-proof sleeve, all copies of all your pet’s documents.  Health Certificate, Vaccination Record, Animal Feeding and Watering Instruction, Acclimation Certificate, Import/Export Certificate (if required).

2. THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR PET’S CARGO CRATE MUST HAVE “LIVE ANIMAL” STICKERS WITH DIRECTIONAL ARROWS

Affix Green 3”x 5”, “LIVE ANIMAL” Stickers to the front, back, sides and top.  The Lettering must be at least 1″ tall. Affix Arrow stickers to the side, front and back. You can print your own or buy them online. Green= Live Animals (mostly Pets). (Red=Laboratory Animals). Use Green. Do not cover Ventilation holes or slats.


Cargo Crate with Visual Directions of Where to Affix "Live Animal" Stickers
Cargo Crate with Visual Directions of Where to Affix “Live Animal” Stickers

3. LEASH AND COLLAR

You will need both to walk your pet through security and the handlers will need them for any layovers where they are able to have a break between flights.

4. FOOD, and EXTRA BOTTLE(S) OF WATER

Food for your pet must be packed in a sealed bag and attached to the top of the crate. Airline staff will feed your pet during the comfort stop. during the layover. Food for your pet must be packed in a sealed bag and attached to the top of the crate. Airline staff will feed your pet if they have a layover or comfort stop.

5. FUNNEL ATTACHED TO THE OUTSIDE OF THE CARGO CRATE

A small funnel on the outside of the crate door attached with zip ties allows the handlers to refill bowls and water without opening the door. You can buy them at the Dollar Store. I don’t spend extra money on the more expensive collapsible ones, they often get lost on the flight.

See Best Cargo Crate for Flying with Large Dogs in 2021

6.  MEDICINE

If your pet is on medication, make sure to attach the medicine and the dosage in a sealed bag. The airline staff will administer the medicine during layovers.

7.  TWO BOWLS ATTACHED TO THE INSIDE OF THE CRATE

One for Water and one for Food.  You do not want water splashing and spilling during loading.  Place frozen water in their bowl before checking in and you can help ensure there is not loss of water or a mess.  Bowls must be attached.  Use zip or cable ties if necessary, many crates have clasps.

8. ABSORBENT PADS OVER FOAM INSIDE YOUR PET’S CARGO CRATE

Pee pads are popular but often they are too thin and the adhesive doesn’t stick well. To keep your pet from standing in a mess of pee, use adhesive spray all over the underside of the pad, not just the corners or, velrco-style tape. Or pick up a piece of thin foam used for upholstery at your hobby store similar to memory foam and use adhesive spray. 

Do not use newspaper, hay or straw, (all are prohibited for import to Mexico) Newspaper falls apart when wet a makes a mess for your pet to stand in. Many airlines prohibit newspaper and straw. Use the pad before travel outside their litter box is a good place so they are used to the scent.

9. COMFORT ITEMS

An old t-shirt or a blanket that has your scent will comfort your pet in their crate. Do not sedate your pet before travelling; spraying the crate with calming oils sometimes works wonders for anxious pets.

10. METAL BOLTS AND SCREWS ATTACHING THE BOTTOM 1/2 TO THE TOP 1/2

The top and bottom half of crates are usually separate and fastened together with plastic screw and bolts.  Replace the plastic fasteners with metal fasteners.  Any hardware store is likely to have the required metal nuts and bolts if you bring the plastic ones with you for comparison.

11.  CABLE/ZIP TIES.

Secure the door with cable/zip ties and tape a plastic bag with extra zip ties to the top of the crate. This will allow staff to re-secure the doors after opening during layovers or if a pet break a tie or locking mechanism.  Some airlines also require you to place these ties on all 4 corners of the crate door. 

Next, See: Preparing Your Pet to Travel in an Air Cargo Crate.

Preparing a Dog Crate for a Long Distance Flight-
Kani Kraze 2020-Accurate for 2021

Published by Stephanie Fling

Everything Pet Travel Related by Air, Sea and Land.

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