Savvy Travel Tips

Ground Transport vs Air: Which is Better for Your Pet?

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), over 100 million households have a cat or dog at home as a pet. This is a solid testimony to the fact that we love animals and having pets. So much so, that sometimes we want to take them on holiday with us, no matter where we’re going.

It’s one thing planning the logistics for the family but quite another when considering a pet. If you’re planning to fly, should your pet fly with you, or would ground transport be a better option? This is a valid question not just for holidays but whenever there is a need for your pet to travel a long distance.

In this article, we walk you through the basics of air and ground transport for your pet so that you can make an informed choice. Your cat or dog would read this article for themselves if they could. Instead, like most things, they will trust you’ll do it for them. 

Animals Aren’t Logical

That may sound like an odd statement but it’s important to recognize that as adorable as our pets are, they’re not logical. For example, humans are either excited or terrified of flying.

We can list many reasons for those feelings, all of them valid to some degree. However, our pets will not share those thoughts but they will pick up on our anxiety and the fears and anxieties of other humans and animals. That means that overall being on a plane is not a pleasant experience for them.

That said, they will have likely traveled in your vehicle many times. Perhaps at first, this was distressing as it was a new experience but overall and as time has passed they will have acclimatized to it and may even associate being on the ground, in a vehicle, with something positive such as going to the park. This is not to say that your pet should never fly but it’s a window into how they may experience this type of travel.

Similar Sensory Requirements

Even though animal neurophysiology is somewhat different from humans the basics are the same. As an example, dogs have the same eighth cranial nerve which is for balance and motion perception as humans.

The balance system requires a center (the brain) which is fed sensory inputs from the inner ear, the eyes, and special stress sensors in the surface of the skin. Flying is a major disruption to our normal perception of motion and balance and it’s for this reason many people dread flying. 

What helps is being able to ‘see’ the horizon as a visual reference and also equalize the pressure in our middle ears. Imagine what it would be like if you were in a dark crate without the visual reference the brain needs. Could you deal with it?

Some would and others wouldn’t. Either way, you can see the implication for your own pet being transported in the plane cargo hold. Once again, it is not to say that your pet should never fly but it’s good to not quickly dismiss the fact that they’re an animal and it’s ‘different’ for them.

On Flight Facilities

When we fly we like to fly well. That means on-flight entertainment, complimentary drinks, reasonable food, and the ability to stand up and stretch our legs as well as adjust the airflow over our seats. These on-flight facilities make being in a tin can at 30,000 ft bearable. 

All of the aforementioned aren’t available for any pets in the plane cargo hold. Depending on where we travel to, we may reason that flying is an essential part of the journey for our pets. At the end of the day, only you can make that choice but make sure you read up on the terms and conditions of transporting your pet via the air carriers website.

Essential Versus Optional

This is a key question for someone thinking about transporting their pet via air or land. As a human in the modern age, our default for traveling a long distance may be to fly as it’s quicker and more convenient.

However, for an animal, the default is most likely to travel by land and so this perspective is one that considers what is best for your pet first. Therefore, it’s a good thing to pause and consider the merits of using ground options to transport your pet before rushing and booking their flight. 

Why Ground Transport? 

Here are some things to consider that may help you to make a decision on this. When your pet is transported on the ground using a reputable company, then your pet will never be alone as it were but will be closely monitored throughout the journey. Ground transport can take a break as needed and respond to any special needs of pets as these arise.

As a general rule, the people that work in the pet ground transport industry aren’t ferrying lifeless bags from one place to another but genuinely care about animals and especially their precious cargo when on an assignment. Most good companies will update owners about the progress of the journey so that you can ‘feel good’ about the process and that your dear pet is being well looked after.

Your Pet Trusts You

In this article, we’ve looked at what’s best for your pet in terms of whether they should fly or take ground transport. Sometimes there are unavoidable factors that make it only practical to fly. However, as you have seen from this article, if that’s avoidable, then there are many reasons for thinking that your pet would much rather travel on land and would be better at the end of the experience.

Whatever you decide, you will likely make the best possible decision and one that others should respect, since you’re the one in possession of all the details, as well as understands the wider needs of your family. Your pet trusts you and so do we. You can read other articles on our site that will help you keep well informed of all things family, food and fun.

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