16 Travel Tips for Flying with Your Dog

November 18, 2016

16 Travel Tips for Flying with Your Dog

Flying for the first time can be a very stressful experience for your pup, especially if he has to be checked and put in cargo. To make your journey as safe, fun and stress-free as possible, follow our 16 travel tips below.

  1. Book pet reservation early. Most airlines allow a handful of pets on each flight. Before booking your ticket, call Reservations to ensure a seat is open for your pet. To avoid paying a booking fee, you may need to hang up with Reservations, book your plane ticket online, then call back Reservations and book your pet’s reservation. Unfortunately most airlines do not let you book a pet reservation online.
  2. Fly direct. Book a non-stop, direct flight whenever possible to ensure the shortest trip for your pup. Most airports do not have areas for pet elimination, so a layover may prove challenging for your pup’s bladder.
  3. Breed considerations. Dogs breeds such as pug-nosed, pekingese, and persians are not always suitable travel companions given their short nasal passages. In fact, many airlines forbid these breeds in cargo.  Will your pup have difficulty breathing if the temperature is too warm? If yes, he may be safer staying at home.
  4. Buy an airline-approved carrier. Well before your trip, purchase an airline-approved travel bag that gives your pup room to sit, lay down, and turnaround. Most airlines promote the comfort and safety of animals traveling with them and will not allow a pup onboard if his carrier is too small. Review your airline’s pet policy page to confirm max dimensions as well.
  5. Teach your dog to love his carrier. In the weeks before your trip, get your pup used to his carrier by placing him in it every other day for a few minutes. By the time your trip arrives, your dog will be comfortable and unfazed with his travel bag.
  6. Trim nails.  Consider trimming your dog's nails prior to departure to protect him from hooking his nails in the carrier’s door, sides, or many crevices.
  7. Pack clothing and a familiar toy. Put a t-shirt or blanket and a favorite toy inside the carrier.  Any item which is familiar to your dog and which smells like you will help him feel relaxed and more comfortable on the flight.
  8. Bring spare pee pads. Does your pup need to go to the bathroom frequently? If so, considering bringing a few pee pads. This could be used in the airport or even onboard and avoid an unwelcome mess.
  9. No food 4-6 hours before takeoff.  Avoid feeding your dog 4-6 hours before the flight, if possible. This will help avoid any urgent bathroom needs once onboard.
  10. Extra exercise. On the day of the trip, take your dog for a long walk and play with him extensively. Get out all his extra energy so by flight time he is ready for a long nap.
  11. Water. Water. Water. Make sure your dog has access to water throughout the flight to prevent dehydration and overheating.
  12. Include contact information with your pup. Securely attach your identification and contact information to your dog’s collar and carrier. Your pet’s name, your phone number and the city where you reside are essential.
  13. No tranquilizers. Tranquilizers or sedatives can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems, so please consult with your vet before considering such medications.
  14. Arrive early. Go to the airport early and have your dog's health certificate handy. Most of the airlines recommend passengers to arrive at least two hours prior to their flight and must check-in at the counter. Dogs must be weighed in and carrier must be measured for size.
  15. Ask for help, especially if pup is in cargo. If the plane is delayed, or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible. Inform every airline employee you encounter that you are travelling with your dog. This way, if any emergencies occur, they will be ready to give any considerations and attention needed to your dog.
  16. Upon Arrival.  Check your dog when you arrive at your destination. If you notice anything wrong, take your dog immediately to a nearby veterinarian.

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