Guide to Preparing Your Dog for Air Travel – P.L.A.Y.

By Bethany W. Rodriguez on Apr 3, 2023

If you’re a true dog-lover, then you consider your pet a member of the family. Therefore, you’ll want to take them with you wherever you go. This includes your national or international travels. Of course, it’s not always easy to do this, but it’s not impossible. Moreover, in some cases, such as relocations, it’s unavoidable. Nevertheless, if you want to travel with your pet, there are a lot of aspects to consider. Furthermore, if you have to travel by plane, things might get a bit trickier. Thus, to ensure you and your furry companion have a pleasant trip, we’ve compiled a guide to preparing your dog for air travel.

No. 1 Before you start preparing your dog for air travel, do your homework

Generally, it would be best if you didn’t start planning your trip and book accommodations until you do your homework on airline pet policies. The main reason is that policies differ from airline to airline. And unfortunately, not all airlines allow dogs on board. Some don’t even let them in the cargo area.

Moreover, even pet-friendly airlines have stringent rules regarding traveling with pets. For example, in most cases, you can bring small-size dogs with you in the cabin. The general rule is that their carrier or crate must fit underneath the chair in front. However, your dog must also be able to stand up and move inside it. Note that there are many other regulations that you must comply with. Thus, you must read carefully to make sure you check every box.

No. 2 Book your flight early

If you want to take your pet on vacation, you should book your flight early. By doing so, you’ll be able to pick the best seat. You should avoid choosing a seat near emergency doors or at the front of the plane because you won’t be able to place the dog carrier underneath the front seat. At the same time, you should avoid the back of the plane because the turbulences are more intense there. This, in turn, will make your dog feel more anxious. As a result, the best choice would be somewhere close to the middle of the plane.

Furthermore, you should also choose the date of your flight carefully. As we all know, airports are usually very crowded. This is something that can make both humans and pets very anxious. Thus, you should consider booking a flight during the off-season when people don’t travel as much. Another option would be to book a night flight when airports are less crowded, and people are sleepy.

No. 3 Buy an appropriate carrier and introduce your dog to it

While you might already own a carrier or crate, it might not be appropriate for air travel. Once again, you must carefully read the airline’s pet policies. Make sure the carrier complies with the required dimensions. If yours doesn’t, you should buy a new one. Moreover, labeling it with your contact information is necessary in case it gets lost.

Another great tip is to buy the carrier long before your trip. This way, you can introduce your dog to it early, and they’ll have time to adjust to it. Place it inside your home, somewhere your pet likes to hang. Make it cozy by placing a soft towel inside with your dog’s favorite toy. It would help if you did the same on the day of the flight.

No. 4 Take your dog to the vet

A visit to the vet is essential when preparing your dog for air travel. This will give you some peace of mind that it’s safe for your companion to fly. Furthermore, most airlines require a travel health certificate for your pet. Usually, this entails taking your dog for a regular checkup. However, some airlines might have additional requirements. At the same time, if you’re taking your pet out of the country, you’ll probably need a pet passport. In this case, you must take your dog to a federally accredited vet. 

No. 5 Tire out your dog before the flight

On the day of the flight, you must tire out your dog. Take them on a long walk or exercise your dog indoors if you don’t have enough time. On the one hand, if they are exhausted, they will be much calmer and sleep most of the flight. On the other hand, once they get on the plane, they won’t be able to move around for some hours, which is quite uncomfortable. Thus ensuring they get work out beforehand is a kind thing to do. 

No. 6 Provide food and water in moderation

Make sure you don’t give your dog too much food and water right before the flight. Otherwise, there’s a big chance they will get nauseous or need a potty break during the flight. The best solution is to give them a final meal five hours before the flight and take them on a walk as well. This will enable them to empty their stomach and bladder. Of course, you can’t do the same with water because they’ll get dehydrated. However, make sure you limit their water intake to avoid accidents.

No. 7 Pack light

Whether you’re going on vacation or planning on relocating by plane from Miami to San Francisco with your dog, you should pack light. Otherwise, the entire airport experience will be much more stressful. Thus, you should pack only the essentials. When it comes to your dog, the essentials include their carrier, favorite toy, a bowl for water, and a leash. As for the rest, you could hire movers to transport it separately. Pros can handle cross-country transfer, while you and your dog enjoy a stress-free flight. 

In conclusion

The good news is that you can take your dog with you no matter where you go. As you’ve seen, dogs can fly as well. So, whether you’re planning a national or international vacation or relocation, your pet can accompany you. Nevertheless, you should start planning early. This guide to preparing your dog for air travel will enable both you and your furry companion to enjoy a pleasant flight.


About the Author: 

Bethany W. Rodriguez has been working as a content writer for three years. Her love for cats and dogs has made her passionate about writing helpful tips for pet owners. In her downtime, she enjoys going hiking with her dog, Luna, and snuggling up on the couch with her cat, Fluffy.

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