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Useful Tips on Flying with a Pet Dog

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Tips on Traveling with your Dog by Plane

Are you planning on flying and want to bring your pet with you? If you answered yes, then you should be aware of the special rules involved in transporting your dog by air and the precautions you'll need to take to ensure your dog's welfare.

Regardless of whether you're flying domestically or internationally, you will really need to plan your pet's travel in advance. Keep reading to find out exactly what you need in order to organize a smooth flight for both you and your pooch.

Airlines that Allow for Small Pets to Travel as Carry-on

Below is a list of airlines that allow for pets to travel as carry-on and a link to each respective airline's pet policy:

Preparation Before Flying With Your Dog in the Cabin

  • Buy a proper kennel and carrier for your dog. It should be spacious enough for him to stand up and be able to move without difficulty. Also make sure that the size meets the airline's guidelines.
  • In order to prevent injury and added stress to you dog during the flight, make sure that your dog becomes used to the kennel or carrier that he'll be in for the duration of the flight at least one week before the flight. One of the main causes of injury to pets during a flight is the pet trying to escape from the kennel or carrier so you want to make your pet comfortable with it to prevent that.
  • Weigh the kennel and carrier with your dog inside and depending on the airline, if the total weight and dimensions of the kennel don't exceed the airline's guidelines, your dog may even be able to travel with you in the cabin!
  • Is your dog brachycephalic (short nosed)? If so, be aware of the dangers of him flying.
  • Make sure that the airline has has a spot for your dog to travel before you book your own flight. Some airlines allow just one pet per flight.
  • Choose the most direct flight possible to minimize stress to your dog.
  • Notify the airline of your intention to travel with your dog in advance. You will also need to notify the airline of your dog's weight with the container that he'll be transported in.
  • Exercise your dog before the flight so that he'll feels more relaxed during the flight.
  • Familiarize yourself with customs formalities of the country where you'll be traveling. For instance, if you're traveling to a country within the European Union, you will need to have a microchip implanted in your dog and you'll need to do a blood test 90 days before you travel to prove that your dog does not have rabies.
  • Check out veterinary assistance options at your travel destination.
  • Never give any sedatives to your dog during the flight.
  • Arrive at the airport in advance. There are special procedures for boarding a dog, such as weighing the kennel and taking measurements.

Flying Internationally With a Dog

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention regulates the import of dogs into the United States. Even those dogs that are originally from the United States are subject to import rules upon entering the country if they were taking out of the United States. When flying internationally with a dog, a number of rules apply. First of all, some airlines, as well as some states, ask for general health certificates for the flying dog. Second, dogs get inspected upon arrival for Zoonotic diseases (those diseases that can be transmitted from animal to humans) and are subject to a veterinary medical examination, treatment, and/or quarantine.

Dangers of Flying Brachycephalic (Short-Nosed) Dogs like Pugs

Brachycephalic or short-nosed dogs are those dogs who have shorter noses than other dogs, such as pugs. Since they have such short noses, they oftentimes have breathing issues which can place them in danger when flying. Additionally, short-nosed dogs have problems with overheating, which is the inability to cool themselves properly - an issue that can be very dangerous if your pug is in the cargo area of an airplane. Although the cargo compartment is pressurized and maintains similar pressure and temperature as the cabin, there have been cased of pet deaths in the cargo compartment, which is something to really contemplate before deciding to take your dog with you on a flight. Overall, flying in cargo can be a very nervous experience for any dog.

According to PetFlight, in 2011, six airlines (Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Hawaiian Air, and United Airlines) reported incidents, which included 36 deaths (20 of which occurred on Delta!), 8 injuries, and two losses. In 2010, 70% of dog deaths were among short-nosed dogs. In 2011, the number went down to 39%.

Before you decide to take your dog with you on the plane, be fully prepared for the trip by following the tips outlined above.


Rachel Owen on July 03, 2012:

If you are thinking about traveling with your dog you should check out Air Hollywood K9 Flight School:

Anne from United Kingdom on June 02, 2012:

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Hi Global Chica. Great hub and sound advice. You obviously travel with your please be aware of an often fatal disease passed to dogs from sandfly bites in Mediterranean countries. The disease is called leishmaniasis and I have published a hub about it. This disease is so serious I am really trying hard to get the word out. I see you are following me and I´m going to follow you too. Many thanks.

Anna (author) from New York, NY on May 24, 2012:

Hi bamuscarella - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad that the article is helping in you planning your travels with your dogs!

Brittany from Buffalo, NY on May 24, 2012:

Great resource. I want to do some traveling but don't want to leave my dogs behind. This is a great starting-off point as I gather information on taking them with me.

Anna (author) from New York, NY on May 07, 2012:

Thanks kane and daffodil for stopping by and your comments!

daffodil2010 on May 07, 2012:

nice hub thanks

kanenolan from United Kingdom on April 08, 2012:

Thank you for this enlightening post. It really provides a deep insight into the topic.

Anna (author) from New York, NY on April 07, 2012:

Thanks, Howard!

Howard Young from California on April 07, 2012:

Excellent hub and resource.

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