How to prepare your dog for air travel

Yes, dogs can travel on planes. However, there are additional regulations and restrictions to consider...

Yes, dogs can travel on planes. However, there are additional regulations and restrictions to consider before you book a flight. Researching the process is important so your dog can stay healthy and happy while traveling. Prepare your dog for air travel with these simple steps:

Before your flight

prepare your dog for air travel

1. Vet-check

Take your dog to a veterinarian and have it examined for a travel health certificate. It’s a good idea to make two copies of the certificate, leaving one copy with your boarding documents and one taped on your dog’s carrier. If you have specific questions about whether your dog can handle air travel, be sure to ask your vet.

2. Know the rules

It’s very important that you know the rules surrounding air travel for dogs. Each individual airline has specific policies for dealing with pets. In general, your pet needs to be older than 12 weeks, have certificates of vaccinations and good health, and be provided with plenty of food and water for longer journeys.

3. No online booking

Purchase a ticket for yourself in person or over the phone. Inform the sales representative that you will be traveling with a dog, as there will be a fee for an accompanying dog. The fee may depend on where your dog will fit; smaller dogs can often stay in their carrier underneath your seat while larger dogs will typically ride in the cargo section.

4. Get a dog carrier

You’ll need a leash and a carrying case while you’re on the flight. Purchase a dog carrier that is large enough for your dog to turn around comfortably. Label the carrier clearly with your personal contact information and mark the top and sides of the carrier ‘Live Animal.’

“Label the dog carrier clearly with your personal contact information”

It’s a good idea to leave your dog’s favorite toy in the carrier with him, and don’t forget to cover the floor of the carrier with a towel to safeguard for accidents. Inform yourself about the carrier rules and restrictions.

5. Prepare your dog for the carrier

Be sure to acclimate your pup to the crate he’ll be traveling in well ahead of time. You can try placing your dog in its carrier regularly. Then let him get used to staying confined for longer and longer periods of time. Practice the motion of travel by placing your dog in the carrier and then putting it in your car while driving.

Travel day

prepare your dog for air travel

6. Final check

Double check that you have your dog’s health certificate with your boarding materials and taped to your dog’s carrier. Also check that the carrier has all the right labels on.

7. Food and water

Avoid giving your pup food for about five hours before the flight, although a little water is okay. Potty breaks are tough at the airport. If your dog is going to be staying in the cargo area, fasten a bowl for water and a bowl for food to the inside of the carrier. Tape a serving of food to the outside of the carrier for flight attendants to use, if there is a delay.

8. Be there in good time

Arrive at least 1 additional hour earlier than recommended, reminding airline employees that you are traveling with a pet when you check-in for your flight. Maybe ask employees to show you where the cargo area is for loading if your dog is not staying in the cabin with you. It will save you a lot of time (and stress).

9. Before take off

A good way to prepare your dog for air travel is to keep him/her as active as possible up until boarding. That will help your pup burn off energy and anxiety. Resist the urge to give your dog a sedative unless directed by your vet. The more comfortable you can make your animal’s flying experience, the better it will be for the both of you.

Good to know

prepare your dog for air travel

10. Pet-friendly airports

Air travel isn’t the most pleasant experience, even for us humans. Many airports are beginning to catch on, though, implementing pet-friendly amenities. To prepare your dog for air travel it’s always a good idea to check the website of the airport to see if they have special pet-friendly areas or rules.

11. ID tag and gps tracker

If you want to bring your pup on holiday, you should consider investing in a ID tag and a GPS Pet Tracker. Some pets are rather adventure-seeking and you never know if your pup suddenly escapes to explore the area. Have a nice flight!

 

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10 Comments
  1. Allison

    I’ll be traveling with my dog soon, this will definitely be helpful 🙂

    • Sarah
      Sarah

      Hi Allison,
      I wish you a safe trip. Where are you going?

      Best,
      Sarah

      • Allison

        Philipines! Have always wanted to go there, will be traveling there with my family and dog 🙂

        • Sarah
          Sarah

          Hi Allison,
          Very nice 🙂
          I also have been to the Philipines once and it was amazing!
          Wish you a nice holiday!

          Best,
          Sarah

  2. Albert Trotter

    nice instructions provided..one addition from my side is…Place a comfortable blanket or toy that smells like home inside for security and put a fan on the front of the carrier to create air circulation.

    • Sarah
      Sarah

      Hi Albert,
      Thanks a lot for your suggestions. This would definetly be helpful for having a good and safe trip with your dog.

      Best,
      Sarah

  3. Sancy

    Hi Sarah,
    Do you have any tips on how to keep my maltese comfortable for long-haul flights? (8 hours or more).

    • Sarah
      Sarah

      Hi Sancy,
      It depends if your maltese travels in-cabin or outside, do you already know that? Then I can provide you some more tips 🙂

      Best,
      Sarah

  4. David

    Very good tips to prepare the dog for air travel! I will keep in mind all these steps. Thanks for sharing and Keep up with the great posts.

    • Christina
      Christina

      Dear David,

      Thanks for this comment.
      Keep reading the Tractive Blog.

      Best,
      Christina

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