Planning on travelling with your furry family member anytime soon? Following complaints from three allergic passengers, the Canadian Transportation Agency recently passed a ruling that Air Canada and West Jet had to protect passengers who are allergic to cats. Fortunately for pet lovers (and perhaps unfortunately those with severe allergies), both airlines still allow small pets to travel in the cabin on many flights.

Air Canada allows up to four cats or dogs per flight, West Jet sets a limit of two, but also allows birds and rabbits. Different policies apply to service animals.

The air carriers have ensured proper ventilation on most of their planes and are committed to offering cat-free buffer zones by seating pets and allergy suffers a minimum of five rows apart.

Most vets actually recommend only flying with your animal when absolutely necessary; it can very stressful on your animal. But if you have to fly, here's what you can do to ensure your pet has a good flight:

  • Buy a proper travel kennel. For larger pets traveling in the underneath baggage compartment, go with a hard-sided kennel (no wire or mesh area, which would allow a part of your pet to protrude). The kennel should also be leak-proof, secure, and according to international regulations, big enough to allow the animal to stand, turn around and lie down. For smaller pets that are carried on board, use a proper, soft-sided travel kennel with air holes.
  • Feed the pet at least four to six hours before travelling. A full stomach can cause discomfort.
  • Avoid sedating your animal and ensure they are well-exercised prior to boarding.
  • Cover the bottom of the kennel with an absorbent material like a blanket or towel.
  • Leave an empty water dish inside and attached to the door. If the flight is delayed or there is a problem, it will assist the crew in watering your pet.
  • Do not lock the door of the kennel.
  • Label the kennel with your pet's name.

On a positive note, more hotels are becoming pet friendly. That said, there are still some standard rules and good behaviours to be aware of:

  • Unless the hotel management allows it, make sure your dog is never left alone in the room.
  • While you are in the room with your dog, place the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door or keep the dead bolt locked. Many housekeepers have been surprised or scared by dogs when entering a room.
  • In some cases, if you book a "pet friendly" hotel it might mean that dogs are welcome but not cats. It could also mean you might get a smoking room.
  • Some hotels may levy additional charges or require a damage deposit.
  • You may be required to sign a pet waiver upon check in.

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