21 Tips On Traveling With Rabbits On Airplanes

Traveling With Rabbits On Airplanes
Traveling With Rabbits On Airplanes

Many rabbit owners choose to fly with their pet rabbits. Why not? Dog owners do it all the time. I recommend that you research about flying with your rabbit. In fact, I do get asked alot by people for good tips on traveling with their pet rabbits on airplanes. So here are 21 tips on traveling with rabbits on airplanes.

Tip 1: Be Sure Your Rabbit Is In Good Health

Before you leave for your trip on an airplane be sure your rabbit is healthy. Prey animals, like rabbits, tend to hide their illnesses, it’s common for them to suddenly get sick. Because of this, you need to check your rabbit closely for any signs of illness before taking him on an airplane. Is he showing any signs of illness? Taking a sick rabbit on an airplane could result in your pet getter sicker or even dying. If your pet rabbit is sick don’t take him on the trip, no matter how disappointed your are. In the long run it’s best for the rabbit and for you.

Tip 2: List Of Symptoms To Check

Here’s a list of symptoms indicating your rabbit might be sick. If he shows any of these symptoms take him to the vet immediately and don’t take him on an airplane.

  • Runny eyes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden fever
  • Unkempt fur, matted fur
  • Pain when he moves
  • Drooling, hair loss
  • Biting or attacking
  • Bumps

Tip 3: Get A Health Certificate

If you’re flying internationally with your pet rabbit, you will absolutely need a health certificate for your rabbit signed by your veterinarian. If you’re flying domestic, it depends on the airline or the state whether you’ll need one. Sometimes states require airlines to ask for a health certificate for pets. The health certificate must be signed not more than 10 days prior to your trip by a accredited vet after she examines your pet. The certificate states that your rabbit is free of all infectious diseases and has met all the requirements of the receiving state or territory. Again, some airlines don’t require a health certificate, but it’s good to have one just in case. Rabbit owners report that they’ve been told one thing by phone only to find out at the airport that the certificate was required. Be prepared for anything!

Tip 4: Get Medications

If your rabbit needs medication, be sure your get him his refills. Don’t start a new medicine for your rabbit a day or two before a trip. He might have a reaction to the medicine while flying or on the trip. Bring along special drops or vitamins he usually takes on a daily basis. Be sure to give him his medications before arriving at the airport.

Tip 5: In Case Of Emergency Veterinarian

Get the name of a veterinarian at your planned destination. You’ll need to look for vet that sees exotic pets-these vets usually receive rabbits. It’s a good idea to call ahead and chat with the vet, tell him you’ll be in town and wanted to have his name and number in call in case of a rabbit emergency.

Tip 6: Write On Your Rabbit

I’m not kidding. Some owners suggest using a permanent marker to write your phone number and another reliable person who knows your rabbit, inside your rabbit’s ear. It will eventually wear off, but it last throughout the trip.

Tip 7: Get An Approved Carrier for Your Rabbit

Be sure to get an approved carrier for your rabbit. Here’s a list of what your rabbit’s carrier should be if he’s riding in the animal cargo area.

  • Right size– Your rabbit must fit inside the carrier with being too cramped. He must be able to stand up and turn around. If the carrier is too small, the airlines won’t let your rabbit ride in the animal cargo area. Carriers must have a solid, leak-proof floor that is covered with a towel, litter, or other absorbent lining for accidents that might occur during transit.
  • Bottom of carrier-The carrier must have a solid, non leakable floor. Add a towel or pads or litter to dry up any urine.
  • Ventilation-The carrier must of plastic with ventilation holes for air. The holes should be at least 15% of the wall area of the carrier. One third of the holes should be on the top part of the carrier. The carrier holes must have edges that stick out so the holes can’t be blocked by other cargo.
  • Handle-The pet carrier must have a handle or grips of some kind so the workers won’t need to put their fingers inside the holes and possibly get bit by your scared rabbit.
  • Label– Be sure to label the carrier with your pet’s name and address. Add your phone number too, although you’ve already written inside your rabbit’s ear. It’s important it’s on the carrier, too.
  • Mark “Live Animal” on top of the carrier where the workers can see it.
  • Only one animal-You can only have one rabbit in the carrier.
  • Purchase the carrier ahead of time so your rabbit can get used to it. Put him in it on a regular basis. Drive him around in the car so he gets used to movement and sounds. The more time he spends in the carrier, the less stressful it will be for him.
  • LIne the bottom of the carrier with puppy pads-These pads will absorb urine and hide the smell.

Tip 8: Be Sure Your Rabbit Really Can Fly With You In The Cabin

Some airlines will allow pets,typically dogs or cats, to fly in the cabin with their owners. Rabbits are still considered livestock by airlines so they’re not as accepted.The policies are changing all the time, so don’t assume your airline will allow your pet rabbit to fly with you in the cabin. Call your airline to see if they accept pets on the plane, especially rabbits. Call several times to confirm what you were told the first time. If your rabbit is allowed in the cabin with you, it will cost you extra. Also, some owners reported that they were told their rabbit could ride with them in the cabin only to be told at the airport by the airline people that their pet had to ride in the animal cargo area, so be prepared either way. Follow the above tips on labeling and ID your rabbit just in case they change their mind!

Tip 9: Book Ahead

Start planning your trip early. Book your flight at least four or five months in advance to ensure you’ll be able to fly with your pets. Book your rabbit’s reservation or carry on spot  at the same time you book your flight. Check and recheck your reservations to be sure everything is okay for traveling with your pet rabbit. Airlines only allow a certain number of pets in the cabin per flight so booking ahead is important.

Tip 10 : Medicine to Relax?

Sometimes your rabbit is just too stressed out to safely fly. Your vet can recommend a sedative that will help your pet relax during the flight. If you don’t prefer using medications like sedative, you can try other more natural remedies. One pet owner gave her pet rabbit Rescue Remedy, a natural homeopathic mixture of five different flowers. It helped her rabbit relax during the flight.  Always try out the sedative or natural remedies on your pet prior to the flight. This will help you know if it works and be sure he doesn’t have a bad reaction to the meds your giving him.

Tip 11 Bowls required

If your flight is more than four hours and your pet rabbit is traveling in the animal cargo area, the airlines require you provide two dishes, a water dish and a food dish. You can purchase dishes that can be attached by a rubber band to the carrier otherwise your rabbit will try to throw them around. You will need to provide food to be given to your rabbit. Often, though rabbits won’t eat when flying.

Tip 12: Food And Water

Freeze some water in a small dish so it will gradually melt during the flight. Put some hay into the carrier for your pet rabbit to munch on during his flight. Label the food with your rabbit’s name and the amount that should be given. Usually rabbits don’t eat too much on flights, but having some familiar pellets might help him. Ask that they give your pet lots of water if the frozen water has thawed and spilled. Take more food than you think you’ll need for after the trip, it gets spilled easily and sometimes it’s harder to find at the destination than you thought it would be. Store it in your checked luggage.

Tip 13 Don’t Take Your Rabbit Out Of Carrier

If you’re taking a short trip, don’t remove your rabbit from the carrier mid-flight. The space is so tight and it might stress your rabbit more to be out of his carrier.  He will be content to stay where he is for the entire flight. You might be able to keep the carrier on your lap for most of the trip,  but for take off and landing the carrier will need to be under your seat. It depends upon the airline attendants on the flight. You can try speaking softly to your rabbit to sooth him if he gets upset during the flight.

Watch that your rabbit isn’t chewing on his carrier. Soft carriers aren’t the best place for a rabbit to stay in too long. Give her a little something to chew like a toilet paper roll.

Extra tip: You might need to take your rabbit out of the carrier when you go through security. The carrier will get scanned and you can carry your pet rabbit as you go through the scanner. It might be stressful for your rabbit to be taken out of the carrier and then put back again. Give him a little treat when you put him back into his carrier. This way the carrier will be associated with getting a treat.

Tip 15: U.S. Airlines That Allow Rabbits

Here is list of airlines that do allow pet rabbits on their flights within the United States. You can purchase a soft carrier that is airline approved online. Before you buy the soft carrier, look up your airline’s requirements for soft carriers in their cabins. The dimensions vary according to the airline so you’ll want to make sure your carrier falls within their parameters.

  • Frontier Airlines- $75 each way, pets are not allowed in cargo area, they are considered a carry on
  • Alaskan Airlines-  $100 each way, pets can be carry on or cargo
  • United Airlines -$125 each way, pets can travel as carry on

Book your flight ahead of time to guarantee you’ll get your pet on the flight with you as a carry on.  Most airlines only allow a certain number of pets per plane flight so you want to reserve your flight and carry on for your pet in advance.

Tip 17 On The Plane

Traveling with our pet rabbit in the cabin of an airplane has its own kind of stress. You will need to be attentive to your rabbit during the flight.  Plan ahead by bringing some special things you’ll need for your rabbit during the flight. Here are some suggestions for on the plane:

  • Choose an aisle seat. Supposedly, these seats have less pressure on the ears which is helpful for your pet rabbit.
  • Put hay in a toilet paper roll so it isn’t all over the place,but yet your rabbit can snack away on the hay.
  • Bring veggies for him to snack on.
  • Bring bottled water and a small bowl to give your rabbit a little drink.
  • Bring a blanket to cover the carrier to help keep your rabbit’s stress level down
  • Give him a favorite toy to chew on.

Stay calm. Your rabbit will pick up on your stress and get upset. Listen to music or enjoy a movie to allow yourself to relax so your rabbit will feel calmer.

Tip 18 Give Your Rabbit Treats During The Trip

Your rabbit might actually learn to like flying if you give him treats during the trip. Be careful not to give him too many treats that will upset his tummy, but consider a few treats for him. Veggies are also okay, you’re allowed to bring food on the plane so plan to bring things you can easily pick up at the store such as:

  • Celery
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Parsley

Tips 19 If Rabbit Gets Upset

If you have a layover be prepared for an upset bunny. Any breaks in your rabbit’s routine is difficult. Flying is hard enough but getting off the plane and then hanging out in a strange place could put your rabbit in a mood. He might thump the carrier floor to let you know he’s upset or throw himself against the sides for the carrier to show he’s made. He might bite you. He might not want to eat or drink. One rabbit owners reported that her pet rabbit thumped so loudly during a layover that security came over to check on what was going on. He also thumped the entire second flight to her destination. It might be uncomfortable for you, but don’t worry, your rabbit is just venting his displeasure at traveling by plane.

Tip 20 After You Arrive

Keep an eye on your rabbit after you reach your destination. He might still be stressed out. If he refuses to eat for more than a day, take him to the vet you talked to before you left for your trip. Some rabbits can take up to four days to recover from a trip. Your rabbit might shed a lot of fur, or seem depressed. For this reason, many people feel like flying isn’t worth it if the trip isn’t more than a week to ten days. Ask this destination vet if you’re unsure that your rabbit is doing okay. Be sure to play with your rabbit and try to make him comfortable. Bring another cage besides the soft carrier for him. Also bring some toys from home to help him adjust to the new location.

Tip 21: Have Fun

Be sure to have fun on your trip! Lots of people travel with their rabbits and have great experiences. Your pet rabbit will do fine in the animal cargo area if he’s healthy, fed and watered. He might be a bit stressed out during the flight, but with some extra care and attention he’ll be fine a day or two after your reach your destination. Traveling with your pet rabbit in the cabin has some pros and cons. But your rabbit should do fine. Who knows he might become a celebrity once the flight attendants find out there’s cute bunny on the plane.