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Flying With Your Pup For The First Time? Here’s The 411

airplane travel with dog

Airplane travel can be a hectic (and stressful) experience for most, and the thought of our pups going through a taxing situation only adds to all the additional planning we have to do to ensure our pet’s safety and comfort. If you’re anything like me, you’ve avoided flying your dog due to all the uncertain variables that may come into play during the trip. However, there might come a day where you’ll need to fly your pup and this blog post is here to guide you and make you feel more at ease!

Tip 1: Airplane travel with your pup is going to largely depend on the airline you take and their pet travel policies.

You might be wondering: “How much is the fee for pet travel? What are the weight restrictions for my dog? How many pets am I allowed to bring?” These are all great questions and the answers vary from airline to airline. To feel the most prepared, we recommend you carefully read your airline’s pet travel policies and reach out to them directly if you have any questions. Visit this site for a comprehensive list of airline pet policies.

Tip 2: What breed is your dog?

According to Smart Travel, “Over half of the dog fatalities on planes over a recent five-year period involved short-nosed breeds.” The American Veterinary Medical Foundation lists these breeds at being high risk of health issues while flying: pugs, Boston terriers, boxers, some mastiffs, Pekingese, Lhasa Apsos, shih tzus, and bulldogs. Some airlines may also restrict certain breeds out of safety concerns.

Tip 3: Cargo vs. Carry-On

We mentioned this tip in our last blog post “Dog Travel Safety: 6 Ways To Keep Your Dog Safe On Vacationand it’s worth mentioning again that it’s always safer for your pup to travel with you in the cabin than in cargo. Baggage handling, changing air pressure, rising temperatures, etc. are all factors that will stress out dogs, and it’s even scarier without the comfort of their owners. Having your pup travel by cargo will give you a lot less control over what might happen to them, so we encourage you to do plenty of research beforehand and check with your airline if you can take your canine companion with you into the cabin.

Tip 4: Choose a direct flight

Direct flights are typically more expensive but the less travel time for your dog, the better. Multiple connections means your dog will have several baggage handling encounters and you may risk your dog being dropped or mishandled.

Tip 5: Consider the weather

Are you flying somewhere super warm or super cold? The climate will affect the temperatures in the cargo area. It’s wise to check with the airline if the cargo area is temperature controlled before committing to the flight.

Tip 6: Preparing to fly

Leave enough time before departure to walk your dog and get some of their energy out. Fresh air and some exercise will do wonders before they fly. Don’t feed your dog a huge meal or give them any new treats to avoid an upset stomach. Select airports have dog-friendly spaces (also known as pet relief areas), which you can find HERE.

Never give your dog any sedatives. You might feel this is necessary to calm their nerves but this can cause breathing issues and inhibit them from regulating body temperatures in the air.

Tip 7: Bring these documents

The documents that are required for your dog to fly will vary depending on the airline but here is a general list:

  1. Microchip certificate
  2. Rabies vaccination certificate
  3. Animal health certificate airplane travel with dog
  4. Additional vaccination certificates
  5. Rabies titer test results
  6. Parasite treatment certificate

A pet passport is a must.

Tip 8: Visit the vet first

Plan a visit to the vet before you travel to ensure your dog is healthy and fit to fly. We can’t stress this tip enough! Your vet will very likely give you some very useful tips on pet air travel too.

More Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • When you reach the TSA security line in the airport, tend to yourself first before taking care of your dog
  • Take your dog from his/her kennel and carry them through security with you. The kennel will go through the X-ray machine.
  • Remove your dog’s harness or collar to avoid setting off the metal detector
  • Keep a current photo of your dog in your phone and on its carrier
  • If your dog is flying cargo, be sure to grab your checked baggage when you arrive then head to the designated cargo area right away to pick up your pup

We encourage you to weigh the pros and cons of airplane travel with your dog. There may be situations where you don’t have a choice but to fly your dog and that is totally okay! With the right preparation and research, the experience can be enjoyable for the both of you.


Source: Everything To Know About Flying With A Dog

Source: Can I Buy a Seat for my Dog on a Plane? [Yes – Here’s how]

Source: Flying with a Dog? Here’s What You Need to Know


What are your experiences with doggy air travel? Did we miss any tips? Share with us in the comments! Don’t forget to sign up here to get the latest on dog-friendly travel news, doggy tips, and updates.

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