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- Pack essentials first. Bring pet travel basics like water and food bowls, a collar, leash, and ID tags, a recent photo of your dog, toys, blankets, and pee pads. Use a suitable crate or carrier and familiarize your dog with it before the flight.
- Check if pets are allowed in the cabin first. If not, choose nonstop flights. Research pet relief areas and exercise options during layovers.
- Ensure comfort and safety for your dog. Carry enough food and water, plus extra. Add familiar scents and identification to your dog’s crate. Use a non-spill water carrier and a chew toy. Trim nails and consider a bulkhead seat for more space. Consider dog GPS trackers and wireless fences for added safety.
- Know the requirements and regulations for pets at your destination.
- Prioritize vet check-ups, important vaccinations, and pet medical certifications to ensure a smooth disembarking process.
Flying with a dog can be pretty anxiety-inducing, as I’ve experienced firsthand. The process of arranging reservations and gathering all the necessary documents can be nerve-wracking, not to mention the constant worry for your furry friend’s safety during the flight. At times, I even considered driving to my destination instead. However, when time is a factor or you’re relocating to another part of the world, flying may be the only viable option.
It’s important to remember that millions of animals fly each year in the United States alone, despite the tragedies and mishaps we often hear about in the media. In reality, the majority of pets that travel in cargo arrive safely. Taking responsibility for your pet’s safe journey begins with thorough research on the airline’s policies and open communication with the staff both before and during your flight. By following the tips below, you’ll feel more prepared and confident, resulting in a less stressful flight for both you and your furry companion.
Before you hit the skies with your favorite pooch, take my tips for flying with a dog. Make sure you have everything on our checklist so that you and your furry buddy have a safe and happy flight.
Pack The Essentials First
Flying with a dog means you’ll be packing for two, and so you’re both going to have to make sacrifices (one chew toy, max!). Given that, you’ll have to make sure you pack the essentials for both you and your dog before considering anything else.
Focus On The Following:
- Pet travel water bowl and food bowl
- Pet carrier or crate
- Sturdy collar and the best dog leash you have
- Dog tags/I.D. on both your pooch and the crate
- Contact information and destination on the crate
- A recent photo of your dog
- Indestructible dog toys and blankets from home
- Pee pads
Before heading to the airport, make sure you’ve invested in only the best dog crates that suit your dog’s size and your travel needs. Consider an appropriate pet carrier or crate made of durable materials that provide comfort and security. Make sure your dog is properly identified with ID tags as well, with a copy of the ID placed on your dog’s carrier.
If your dog isn’t used to a dog crate yet, it’s best to get them used to it as soon as possible. Squeeze in as many crate training sessions as you can before the day of the flight. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends acclimating your dog to their carrier before flying, reducing stress for both of you.
Dog Food And Water
Pack enough food and water for the duration of the flight, and include a few extra days’ worth in case of any unexpected delays. Keeping your dog well-nourished and hydrated is crucial for their well-being during the journey.
For a comfortable flight, make sure your pooch is surrounded by familiar smells and plenty of identifying information. By packing all of these items, you can help to prevent your dog from becoming lost or injured. Keep in mind, bring a non-spill water carrier and a chew toy to keep your furry friend entertained throughout the long flight.
Double-Check With Your Airline About Bringing A Dog
Always verify with your airline whether they accept pets in the cabin. While many airlines now permit small dogs and cats to fly in the cabin, some have different regulations. If your airline doesn’t allow pets in the cabin, you’ll need to make arrangements for your pet to fly in the cargo area. Some airlines provide exceptions for service animals, but these do not typically include emotional support animals.
Whatever the case, you’re going to have to pay a carry-on pet fee to fly with your pet, and you’re charged each way. Keep in mind that these fees can be quite hefty — with United Airlines, for example, passengers are charged $125 each way to fly with their pets.
When booking connecting flights, aim for a layover of at least four hours. This allows your dog to stretch their legs and take a walk. If possible, select a window seat, as it offers your dog a view and the chance to indulge in their curiosity by sticking their head out the window.
To accommodate your dog’s rest, consider booking overnight flights, allowing them to sleep through most of the journey. Before the flight, ensure your dog has a full stomach, as this can help keep them calm and reduce stress. Also, make sure they are comfortable in their kennel or carrier.
If you have concerns about your dog’s behavior during the flight, reserving a seat in the bulkhead row can provide containment and additional space for them to move around. Don’t forget to trim your beloved dog’s nails before the flight, too.
Flying With Small Dogs Vs Large Ones
Even on airlines that accept pets in the cabin, it’s going to be much more convenient for you — and everyone around you — if you bring a small dog. Most airlines that allow dogs in the cabin usually only allow dogs that weigh up to 20 pounds. That’s so they can fit in a small crate under your seat or under the seat in front of you.
This is why flying with a service dog can be tricky, given that most of them can be quite big, but it’s doable as long as you know what to expect.
For starters, you should familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and regulations on service animals. Ensure your dog meets the size requirements to comfortably fit under the seat. Remember, even fully trained service dogs require ample exercise before the flight to help them stay calm and focused. That goes double for emotional support animals, seeing as dogs don’t really need to undergo behavioral training to qualify as an ESA.
If Your Airline Does Not Allow Dogs In The Cabin
If your pet doesn’t meet the size requirements to fly in the cabin (or if dogs are simply not allowed to do so in the first place) try to book a nonstop flight. This minimizes the amount of time your pet spends in the cargo hold, reducing stress and potential risks associated with transfers. Be warned however that these can be quite expensive for international flights, but they shouldn’t be that much pricier for domestic flights.
For pets flying in the cargo area, inquire whether your airline provides a pet relief area at your destination. If not, research pet relief areas in airports along your route and seek information from hotel staff about pet walking locations. This ensures your dog gets necessary breaks and exercise during layovers.
Visit Your Veterinarian
Schedule a thorough check-up for your dog prior to the trip. By ensuring your pooch is in tip-top shape, it will save both of you a lot of time and stress on your trip. A healthy pooch will fare much better in the varying plane temperatures and new environment he will be experiencing.
To sum up, here are the things you should do, or consider doing, when you visit your vet:
- Have your vet give your dog a complete check-up
- Make sure that all vaccinations are up to date, especially rabies vaccination
- Get refills on any medications
- Obtain a health certificate
- Obtain a copy of your pet’s medical file
- Ask your vet for recommendations for vets in the area you’re traveling
- Microchip your dog
Do Your Due Diligence On The Country You’re Visiting
When traveling abroad, it’s crucial to thoroughly research the pet regulations of your destination country. Each country may have specific requirements, such as asking you to bring a pet health certificate and quarantine periods that can extend up to six months. Being well-informed beforehand will help you navigate the process smoothly.
To ensure the safety and tracking of your dog during travel, you should consider getting one of the best dog GPS trackers, as well as the best wireless dog fence models so you can keep your dog secure in one spot whenever the need arises. These devices provide added security and peace of mind by keeping your dog within designated boundaries and allowing you to track their location throughout the journey.
Be prepared for customs fees that may apply when traveling with your dog internationally. Research the specific fees and have the necessary funds on hand to avoid any delays or complications during customs clearance. Additionally, arrive early at the airport and check-in well in advance to allow ample time for any required procedures.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I keep my dog safe on a plane?
To ensure your dog’s safety, it is essential to follow airline regulations and guidelines. If your dog needs to undergo an additional screening, which prevents you from taking them out of the carrier, it typically indicates that they have been deemed safe after an X-ray examination. Make sure that your pet has been trained or at least been familiarized with pet carriers so they feel safe inside one for the duration of the flight.
Can I give my dog Benadryl before flying?
Reports suggest that diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, can help reduce anxiety associated with traveling. It may also provide relief from the discomfort of movement during the flight. As always, however, consult your vet before administering anything to your dog, especially before air travel.
Should I give my dog a sedative before flying?
It’s important to note that sedation poses various risks and can have adverse effects on pets during airplane travel. According to studies conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, sedating animals during flights can potentially cause heart or respiratory issues.
How stressful is flying for dogs in cabin?
Flying can be a stressful experience for dogs in the cabin, although there are some that feel thrilled by it the same way they feel when taking car rides. It can be challenging to handle, both for pets and their owners. The entire process, from checking in to checking out and waiting for the aircraft to depart, contributes to the overall experience. It’s important to take necessary precautions and ensure your dog’s well-being throughout the journey.