Preparing Your Dog For Plane Travel

By Mandy Lee

Being a pet parent who travels, sometimes you have to bring your furry friend with you. Whether you always travel with your pet or are bringing them as a last resort, their safety and well-being is your top priority. Having a dog prepped and ready for air travel is far different from having them prepared for car road trips. Having your dog relaxed and well prepared for airline travel will make traveling for any occasion go as smoothly as possible.

Finding The Right Airline

Doing your research to find the right airline for traveling with your dog should be the first thing on your checklist. Find an airline that suits your needs, as well as your dog’s. Make sure you call ahead of time to check on any breed or size restrictions, if they require any medical records upon arrival at the airport, and if they have a restriction on travel crates. If you are traveling internationally, a certificate of health is always required; however, it is not always the case for flights within the U.S.

Preparing Your Pup For Flight

Once you have figured out which airline you will be traveling with, begin preparing your dog for his or her big day. After booking your flight, you will need to call the airline directly to have a spot for your dog reserved. There will most likely not be an option online for a pet flying fee. Most airlines do not base your pet’s flying fee on the length or duration of your flight. Your pet fee will likely be a flat rate regardless of the destination. Be sure that you call in and reserve your dog’s place on the flight as soon as possible. If any medical check-ups are required, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dog’s vet with ten days of take-off.

Teaching your dog how to drink from a water bottle, such as the kind you’d hang in a rabbit cage will help him/her stay hydrated without risking spillage or accidents.

If your dog isn’t used to being in a crate, for long periods, then start the acclimation process now! Make sure you use a hard crate, which is specifically designed for airline travel. When choosing a crate, be sure that your dog is secured, and there is no chance that the crate would pop open mid-flight.

Flight Day!

Today is the day! Make sure that you give your dog plenty of time to run out as much energy as possible before getting onboard. To avoid potty accidents or vomiting during the flight, do not feed your dog within six hours before your flight, and make sure they get the chance to do their business directly before heading inside the airport. Consider puppy pee-pads just in case an in-flight accident does occur. However, when traveling with smaller breeds or young pups, withholding food can add to the risk of low blood sugar. If you need to change planes during your journey, look for “pet relief stations” for a quick pee break and a chance for him to stretch his legs.

Remember not to give your pup any tranquilizers before the flight, as it can increase risks of heart and respiratory issues – especially with short-nosed breeds. Furthermore, it’s important to refrain from giving your dog any sedatives if they are going into the cargo area of the plane. If your dog is flying in the cabin, then a sedative is only an option at the advisement of your veterinarian.

Traveling with your pet can be a rewarding and straightforward experience if you are willing to put in the effort it takes to prepare. By doing the correct research and making sure you prepare properly, traveling with your pet will be smooth sailing! Safe travels out there!

Mandy Lee is a dog mom, avid veterinary volunteer, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.

What's Next

  • 1

    Call us or schedule an appointment online.

  • 2

    Meet with a doctor for an initial exam.

  • 3

    Put a plan together for your pet.