Flying can cause anxiety for the most seasoned traveler — the long lines, security, and boarding the plane — add a dog into the mix, and it’s a full on panic attack if your pet is upset and ill-prepared.
Whether your pet is accompanying you in the cabin or flying on its own below, there are many ways to help prepare them and make them more comfortable for air travel.
Your pet’s health is our priority at the Vet Set, both on the ground and in the air! Join us in today’s post as we explore air travel for your pooch.
Everyone loves the idea of taking their beloved pup on a plane to discover a new destination, and with the right steps, you can turn this dream into a reality! We’ll explore travel tips for flying with your dog and when they fly underneath the plane — read all about it below!
First things first when it comes to in-cabin travel with your pooch…
Invest in a comfortable and airline approved carrier.
Folks, this is crucial. There are many pet carriers on the market that are cute and stylish, but if they don’t meet the airlines requirements, you will not be able to fly. So, let’s look more closely into pet carrier requirements.
Size and weight – The first thing to check into is, does your dog even meet the requirements to fly in-cabin? Generally pets can be no larger than 18 inches long from their nose to the base of the tail and can’t exceed 12 pounds. The exact size and weight requirements do vary with each airline, so always double check before you book your ticket.
Pet Carrier Requirements – Your pet travel carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you and they need to include the following:
Required carrier dimensions are as follows:
And now for the inside scoop on traveling with your pet!
Book a direct flight – The less transitions you have, the less travel hiccups such as flight delays you’ll encounter.
Check their comfort level before the flight – If your dog has never been on a plane or gone for a longer car ride, you may want to test this out. Take your dog out for a long car ride — hello, weekend getaway — and see how they stand up. Do they get motion sickness, or do they seem overly stressed? If there are any issues, you can address them and help get them more prepared to fly in the interim.
Cultivate crate love – If your dog is not crate-trained this can be a big adjustment, but if done properly, dogs can come to find their crate as a safe space and being in it can help reduce any travel anxiety. Make their crate a space that they love — give them treats in their crate and keep their favorite toys in there so they naturally gravitate towards it at home, thus enjoy it more when traveling. Putting a t-shirt or blanket with your scent in their crate can also help them calm and quell any anxiety.
Provide in-flight entertainment – Pack their absolute favorite toys for the flight, even the high-value ones. This will keep them entertained, happy, and less likely to be vocal with any barks or whimpering.
Take an airport trip beforehand – Taking your dog to the airport before your actual scheduled flight is a great way to desensitize them to all the travel hustle and bustle — they’ll become better adapted to the sounds and smells.
Check in early – If you go with the rule of giving yourself two hours for domestic travel and three hours for international. If you’re traveling with a dog, add an hour. It’s important to give yourself time to get situated and take your dog out one last time before a flight.
Use puppy pads – If you’re on a longer flight, line there crate with puppy pads and always pack extra in case of an emergency. If the flight attendants have to handle any waste, be sure to thank them with a generous tip or gift card.
Pets traveling as cargo are beneath the plane cabin and have additional requirements and considerations for happy and healthy travel.
It is required that your dog is able to stand, lie down, and turn around comfortably in their crate. The floor of the crate should be solid and leakproof. The top of the crate should also be solid, and ventilation should run along the sides.
The ventilation must be along two sides for domestic flights and four sides for international flights.
The crate must also have spring-loaded locking pins to secure the dog. Many airlines also ask that dog owners further secure the doors with cables or bungee cords on all four corners.
A collapsible crate is not allowed.
“Live Animal” stickers must be placed on the top and sides of the crate.
Easy identification is required on the outside of the crate with your dog’s name and your contact information.
The crate must have food and water bowls attached to the front door and must be refillable from outside the crate. Food can be attached to the top of the crate for easy access.
The crate must be composed of metal, rigid plastics, solid wood/plywood, fiberglass, or metal mesh.
Place a leash and collar to the top of the crate.
Tape all of your pet’s health information to the top of the crate (secured in a plastic bag).
Prep the crate to accommodate any temperature swings. If your dog is sensitive to temperature swings, pack their crate accordingly. In cold weather, include extra blankets and stuffed animals they can snuggle up with. In hot temperatures, pack enough for their comfort, but not so much that they become overheated.
When you’re prepared, traveling with your pet can be a positive experience, and having them by your side for your adventures makes it worth it. While we’ve given important guidelines, always check with your airline before your flight to ensure that you’ve met all of their pet travel requirements.