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Flying With a Dog

I love my pets and want them to have a healthy and happy life. I always try to take my dog with me when I travel, on a plane or in the car.

Dogs Can Fly With You

When I first started to travel with my dog, I would drive with the dog in a crate tied down in the back seat. As I expanded my destinations I realized that it was not practical to drive everywhere. I still wanted to have my pet with me but I didn't know how I could do it. I kept my outings to a day or two, which wasn't much fun after I had seen everything within a couple hundred miles.

Then one day I was talking to a friend and he said he had to get shots for his dog because he was heading for California and the airline required it. BINGO, th light came on and he explained to me how he did it. My world had not been the same since.

Me and My Travelling Companion

Don't be afraid to travel with your dog

Don't be afraid to travel with your dog

Flying With A Dog


If you have traveled with your dog on an airline then you know that what I have said is true, if you are just thinking about it, then this information on airline travel with dogs is for you,

If you are a dog owner, then you are probably also a "dog lover". We "dog lovers" are always looking for ways to make our pet owning and loving experience, better, for us and also our pet.

You know how wonderful it is to come home and find your "furry friend" waiting at the door all excited and waggley, just because you are back home, at last (even if it's only been a few minutes).

But what happens when you toss in airline travel with your dog? In today's mobile society it is very common for thousands of people each day, to be traveling with their dog. Some dogs have to go to a kennel or to the house of a friend, but other lucky dogs get to travel with their owners on the airplane.

Photo by Bob Schroeder

Where Does Your Dog Fly?

Flying With a Dog Starts With Planning and Information Gathering

After one or two trips with my dog on an airplane, and having botched up the whole thing in a big way I decided to finally try to figure out the process of airline travel with dogs and what I had to do for my own sanity and for the comfort and safety of my dog.

After all was said and done I finally figured out one great truth, "traveling with your dog on an airplane can be very stressful and confusing, your planning and information gathering will pay off great dividends in the long run".

You have to consider a number of things.

...Do I have to purchase a dog crate or dog carrier that has been approved by the airlines;

...will my dogs airline carrier or crate fit under the seat in front of me;

...if I ship my dog as cargo, will my dog transport crate meet the approved dimensions;

...will my dog be allowed out of its airline carrier during the trip;

...what will the temperature be along the route.

If your dog can't travel in the cabin with you because of size or if the airline dog carrier is too big, then they can be shipped as checked baggage and another size of dog crate can be used.

Airline travel is tough these days with new regulations coming out every day that apply to you and your traveling dog.

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Each airline will have their own restrictions and rules, always check with them to make certain that you have met the criteria.

Major Airlines Have Dog Travel Programs

Check out their rules when considering which to use

Here are just a few other airlines that you can ship with.

American Airlines

Delta Airlines

Continental Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Of course, there are others, but this will give you a start on your search for the best airline to ship your pet with.

Take Advice From Other Travelers

Learn from the experts, save yourself time and trouble.

There are many blogs out there that can offer good advice about all specific questions you may have.

The TSA website will give you much needed information.

Don't forget to check the website of the airline you are travelling on to make sure you follow all the rules and policies.

Talk to your friends that bring their pets long on flights

Pet breeders ship dogs all over the country, they are a great resource

My Two Travelers, Nellie and Daphne

Pets want to be with you, even on airplanes

Pets want to be with you, even on airplanes

Three Ways for Your Dog to Travel with the Airlines

Size, weight and breed are all important

There are three ways that your dog can travel with the Airlines: In the cabin with you, As checked baggage and As cargo.


Pets that will be traveling in the cabin may require a reservation. This is to ensure that only a specific number of dogs are booked on any single flight. Because of this I recommend that you contact your airline and make arrangements for your pet in advance. Pets are usually taken on a first come, first served basis, so if too many dogs are going to be traveling in the cabin, you may not be able to take yours in the cabin with you and they may have to checked and travel as baggage.

Please make certain that you understand....Pets are NOT allowed outside of their carrier at any time during flight, they must remain in their carriers that have been placed under the seat in front of you. A rule of thumb for the maximum size for cabin pet carriers is 19" long x 13" wide x 9" high. Soft-sided pet carriers may be a little larger because they are more flexible. Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position in the carrier. If you are going to have a soft-sided pet carrier, make sure it is constructed of water-repellent, padded nylon with mesh ventilation on two or more sides. A pet carrier counts as either a passenger's one carry-on bag or personal item.

On virtually all airlines only one pet carrier per ticketed passenger will be allowed in the cabin. The carrier may contain two (2) dogs, but they must be the same type or breed, at least 8-weeks old, and the container with the dog can weigh no more than 20 pounds. Be very careful on the weight, or your dog may end up in the baggage compartment.

Some states may require a health certificate for your dog. Be prepared for this and have your VET give you copies of all the documents they have for your dog.

One of the biggest questions may be...HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST??? Each airline will have their own price schedule, but figure around $100 - $125 each way. Of course, it's always best to check with the airline so you know for sure.

Photo by Bob Schroeder

AIRLINE TRAVEL CARRIERS FOR YOUR DOG - Make certain the carrier is large enough and surdy enough

Dog carriers and crates come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Your dog will need enough room to be comfortable, but size will be important if your dog is going in the airplane cabin with you.

It is best to call the airline and get the exact measurements that they allow for the place you are putting your dog.

Nellie isn't that thrilled about flying but will enjoy all the treats she gets before the flight

A few bribes before the flight will help calm your dog

A few bribes before the flight will help calm your dog

Your Dog Traveling As Checked Baggage

Good planning can eliminate stress for your dog and you

If your dog is too big to fit under the seat in front of you, then the next best thing is to send them as CHECKED BAGGAGE.

To some people, this sounds just horrible.....but keep this in mind...the airline will provide your dog with as safe and comfortable a trip as possible.

This means that you will take the dog to the reservations desk and then check them in, just as you would with your large suitcases and other checked luggage.

Curbside and self check in are not allowed, when checking in a dog as baggage. Most airlines do not require reservations for a dog that is being checked as never hurts to call the airline and confirm that there will be room for our dog.

One of the first things you should do, is check the weather for your departure point and your destination. All airlines will have restrictions on temperature. If the temperature is going to be below freezing or above 85 degrees, your pet may not be able to go. Check with your airline for their exact weather restrictions.

Your dogs carrier needs to be constructed out of rigid plastic, wood, or metal with solid roofs, it should have wheels that can be removed, it needs to have handles on the outside of the carrier, must close securely but not with locks.

Make sure you have a sign on the carrier that says "LIVE ANIMAL".

Put bedding in the carrier and paper towels in case they "potty".

Don't forget the food and water!!!! These must be in dishes that are attached to the inside of the carrier and can be accessed by the baggage handlers.

On most airlines, the maximum weight for dog and crate combined is 100 pounds.

Carrier maximum size will be about 40" long X 27" W X 30" H.

Make certain that you have all your dogs health records with you. Most airlines will require certificate of health before you can load your dog.

If you have a snub or pug nosed dog, check with the airline, because there are other restrictions on these breeds.

What About Tsa????

How will my dog be treated before he travels?

This information comes from the TSA website

Our security procedures do not prohibit you from bringing a pet on your flight. You should contact your airline or travel agent, however, before arriving at the airport to determine your airline's policy on traveling with pets.

Security Screening

You will need to present the animal to the Security Officers at the checkpoint. You may walk your animal through the metal detector with you. If this is not possible, your animal will have to undergo a secondary screening, including a visual and physical inspection by our Security Officers.

Your animal will NEVER be placed through an X-ray machine. However, you may be asked to remove your animal from its carrier so that the carrier can be placed on the X-Ray machine.

BIG QUESTION ON DOG TRAVEL!!! - Which airline should let my dog travel with?

One of the toughest things to do, is decide which airline to transport your dog or cat. A new type of airline called Pet Airways claims to be the safest way to fly your pet. Pets traveling on Pet Airways fly in the main cabin and not in the cargo bay. Pets are continuously watched over by On-Board Pet Attendants.

Here are some of their promotional videos that may give you the knowledge you need to decide on Pet Airways. I have not shipped on this airline but others have told me that they have had good results.

There are many pet friendly airlines that you can travel with

Big dogs, little dogs and in between can all fly with you

Dogs That Are Alone and Shipped As Cargo

Even if you can't make the trip, your dog can still travel on an airline.

There are many occasions when a dog might have to travel by itself. Even though you may not want to do this, you can be sure that airlines do this all the time and will take very good care of your dog. A little pre-planning on your part will ensure that your dog will have a journey with as little stress as possible. Just following a few basic rules of thumb will be very helpful.

***Make sure that your dogs shots are up to date and you have your VET give you a copy of all their medical records and certificates.

***Check the weather at the departure and arrival points and other points in between. Too hot or too cold will stop your dog from traveling.

***Make reservations for your dog 3 days in advance of the departure date.

***Find out where the cargo area is for your airline and their hours of operation.

***Have your dog at the cargo area about 4 hours before the flight

***Weight of dog and crate can't exceed 100 pounds

***Crate size should be around 40 X 27 X 30, but check with the airline for exact size requirements

***Have food and water in bowls that can be attached to the inside of the crate

***Bring a lease in case you have to remove the dog during an inspection by a TSA representative.

***DO NOT sedate your dog, they cannot travel when sedated

***Have bedding in their crate so they are comfortable when lying down

Costs for this service vary with airlines, but count on $100 to $150.

Fear not! Airlines will take good care of your dog

LARGER DOGS CAN BE CHECKED AS BAGGAGE - Get the correct size, not larger than 40 X 27 X 30

Remember that your dog needs food and water and enough room to turn around and lie down in their normal manner.

Should I Sedate My Dog For His Pet Travel?

Think About This For A Minute Then Decide

Take a toy dog and put it into the crate you are going to use for travel. Now twist it to the left and then to the right, raise the front and then raise the back. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DOG INSIDE??? Yes, it got bounced from the left to the right and then the front to the rear. During slight turbulence or even upon landing, that crate could get really bounced around and your sedated dog would be just like the toy. Can you imagine, having no way to control your body as it is thrown about the crate!!!

The American Veterinary Medical Association,has made the statement that in most cases cats and dogs should not be given sedatives or tranquilizers prior to flying. Just as in the example above they feel that an animal's natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation, which can be dangerous when the kennel is moved.

I have only sedated one animal that I shipped, and when I saw how helpless it became in that crate, I worried the whole time it was in transit, until my son picked it up and called to say that the dog was OK.

If your dog tends to be very hyper and wild, I would consult with a Vet to get the mildest sedative possible for the breed and size of the dog.

Dog travel can be tricky - Here are a few tips to help

Puppies are shipped all over th world

My little Daphne is a great traveller

Give me your comments and your additions to make this website better.

WE ALL LOVE OUR DOGS - What can I add to make this more comprehensive?

anonymous on November 24, 2012:

I looked everywhere to find info on the web about how to make a trip with my two rescued dogs (shizu-poo and a cockapoo). Your lens is the best source of info I found.

JimHofman on July 23, 2012:

Great information here on taking a trip with your pet! Linked to our pet travel lens "Dog Car Travel".

Afteretc on January 18, 2012:

Pet Airways is the safest way to go!

Bob Schroeder (author) on July 22, 2011:

@ziggyzane: Thanks for the comment. Traveling is tough these days, especially with animals. The more help people can get, the better. Have a great day.

ziggyzane on July 22, 2011:

Very helpful information. Great lens.

Bob Schroeder (author) on July 13, 2011:

@Have2Cruise LM: Thanks, that's very good information, I'll try to put in another section on that airline.

Have2Cruise LM on July 10, 2011:

We have a large 100 lb 7-year old puppy and we fly him on Pet Airways. I would NEVER put him on a regular commercial airline. On pet airways your pet flies in a crate in the cabin of the plane not the cargo area. Pet Airways is for animals only. They do have pet attendants who fly with the pets and check on them regularly during flights. They have frequent stops for food, water and walking breaks. They are tops for me when it comes to flying my dog.

Kelsey-Budden-16 on February 28, 2011:

Well, this lens was very good use to me!

In a few days I may be coming back to buy a kennel for my Cheeko! I bought her a kennel but it turned out to be too small for her so, I guess we'll see what happens! :-)

anonymous on December 03, 2010:

@GuyB LM: I do believe that may be possible, of course it's best to check with the airline you will be traveling with. The guidelines for size of crate and weight should be about the same. It would be shipped as cargo, and would have to have all the appropriate health certs. TSA would have to inspect it so it would have to be tame enough to be gotten out of the crate. Keep in mind the temperature restrictions from the departure point and along the route. If you are in a cold area or going to a cold area, this could be a problem. Good luck on the shipping.

GuyB LM on December 03, 2010:

This may not be your are of expertise, but do you think the same travel accommodations could be made for a 45 pound pet groundhog?

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