Flying With Your Dog: How to Prepare & Travel Stress-Free

Dogs are undeniably part of our family, and we want to take them everywhere. However, if you plan on flying with your dog, you can do various things to prepare your pup and make the trip stress-free for both you and your four-legged family member.

Do Your Research

Before you book a flight, make sure that you check the specific airline’s pet travel requirements. All airlines are different, and they all have particular procedures for guests who are traveling with their pets. 

Once you have chosen the airline you plan to use, contact the airline, and ask the following questions (make sure you get a concrete answer for all of your questions):

  • Will, my dog be allowed in the cabin with me?
  • Are there any specific immunizations you require or health requirements for dogs?
  • Do you require a specific type of transporter (hard-sided versus soft-sided carriers)?
  • If my dog cannot be in the cabin with me, are there any cargo travel restrictions for my dog?

If you are taking an international flight, there are likely to be more restrictions than traveling domestically. Moreover, if you are entering another country, do research and figure out what the animal import requirements are in the country you are going to. 

Some countries may require your dog to quarantine before entering the country. This confinement is usually in countries that are free from rabies.

If you know your dog will be traveling in the cargo area after you have talked to the airline personnel, make sure you ask the airline representative about the cargo’s ventilation. Also, make sure that the freight is air-conditioned for your dog’s safety.

Talk to Your Vet Before Flying With Your Dog

Dog owner talking with her veterinarian

Before your flight, make sure to check in with your veterinarian. For some dogs, brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, Pekingese, and Bulldogs, air travel may be dangerous. 

These types of dogs have the “pushed in” faces, which gives them shorter nasal passages. They are more at risk while flying due to the changes in air pressure and oxygen deprivation.

Even if you do not have a brachycephalic dog, your veterinarian will be able to examine your dog and make sure they are healthy enough to fly. They will also need to be up to date on all of their vaccinations. 

It’s also crucial that your dog is microchipped with the most up to date information, has all needed medications, and gets a parasite treatment if necessary.

While you are talking with your veterinarian, bring up any concerns you have about your dog’s anxiety. Your veterinarian may recommend calming medications, drops, or an anxiety vest/jacket to help keep the flight as stress-free as possible for your dog.

Preparing For The Flight

When packing for your trip, you will also need some things for your dog. Make sure you bring the following items when flying with your dog:

  • Airline Approved Crate
  • All Paperwork
  • A Pet Passport
  • Dog Food
  • Water
  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Pee Pads
  • Mat for the Crate
  • Leash
  • Collar/Harness
  • Dog Comfort Toy

If you are traveling internationally, you may need to pack some more items:

  • ISO Microchip
  • Proof of Recent Rabies Vaccination
  • Blood Titer Test (if traveling to a country with a high risk of rabies)
  • Proof of Tick or Tapeworm Treatment
  • Health Certificate
  • Government Export Paperwork

Choose a crate that’s the correct size and airline approved for your pet. This useful crate size calculator will help you do just that. 

Moreover, it’s a wise idea to give your dog about a month to get used to their travel crate if they have never used it before. Keep your pet’s travel crate out and open in an area in your house and put a blanket or bed in there so that your dog knows it is a safe place.

Flight Day (Yeah, it’s Finally Here)

Cute dog ready for a plane ride

On the day of your flight, make sure that your dog is feeling well, especially if you have a long flight ahead of you. Only give them small amounts of food, especially if they have a sensitive stomach. Arrive at the airport early to ensure that you have plenty of time to check-in.

Your dog’s crate will have to go through security. You have the option to request a special screening that will not require you to take your pup out of its container. If you choose to take your dog out of the crate so that the box can go through the x-ray machine, make sure your dog is safely harnessed so that you can ensure that your pet is contained while the crate goes through security.

Lastly, take time to figure out where you can take your dog to go to the bathroom at both your departing and arrival airport.

Cabin Versus Cargo

Pet carrier being loaded onto a plane

MIt is ideal for your dog to travel in the cabin instead of in the plane’s cargo area. Larger dogs may have to stay in the cargo, but smaller dogs are often allowed in the cabin as long as you make arrangements before your trip. Most airlines have limits on the number of animals permitted in the plane, so it is best to contact the airline as soon as possible.

If your dog is traveling by cabin, you will have direct access to them and can monitor and comfort them throughout the flight. On the other hand, the passenger area is louder and gives your dog more distractions during the flight.

If your dog is traveling in the plane’s cargo, you don’t have direct access to them, and you will have to wait for your dog once you arrive at your destination. On the plus side, the cargo area is quieter, which may reduce your dog’s stress and anxiety on the flight.

Moreover, if your dog is in the plane’s cargo for the flight, it’s a good idea to fly direct and make sure that you are on the same airplane as your dog. When you get on the plane, make the cabin attendant aware that your dog is in the cargo, they are more likely to take the necessary precautions.

Final Thoughts

Flying with your dog can be stressful, but if you prepare your dog correctly and follow our tips, you should be well on your way to enjoying your trip with your pupster.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any suggestions to add to the list. We look forward to hearing from you.

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