To be shipped by air, dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old, placed in an approved shipping container according to size and ventilation, and have adequate food and water, states the U.S. Department of Transportation. Older animals must have food every 24 hours and water every 12 hours, and puppies and kittens under 16 weeks old must have food and water if in transit more than 12 hours.
Dogs and cats must be weaned for a minimum of five days before transport, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Airlines and other methods of shipping live animals have specific standards, including proper ventilation, size and stability of the container and a design that allows for safe handling and sanitation of the animal. Dogs and cats can’t arrive at an airline more than four hours before the time of departure.
Airlines have individual policies about arrival times and methods of checking in a carrier with a live animal, notes the U.S. Department of Transportation. In general, live animals shouldn't be exposed to temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, unless accompanied by veterinarian's document certifying that animal can safely handle colder temperatures. Some airlines allow passengers to carry dogs or cats onto the airplane in a kennel instead of being shipped in the cargo area.