Dog Travel - Flying

Posted by Annette 11/08/2017 0 Comment(s)

The holidays are here.  That means going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house.  Whether you get there by car, train or airplane, you have some homework to do if you plan to take your dog traveling with you.  Since you need to book flights in advance, we’ll tackle this monster first.

Cabin Fever

According to the Humane Society of the United States, flying with dogs is least preferred and should be avoided if possible.  If you must fly with your dog, check to see if your airline allows your pet to travel in the cabin with you as this is certainly the best option.  There are restrictions pertaining to your dog’s weight, size and carrier type and size.  It must fit under the seat in front of you as it will be considered carry-on luggage.  There are also limitations as to the overall number of pets allowed in the cabin. Ask your airline about additional fees.  You most certainly will incur them.  You should also check to see if the airline requires any immunizations or has special health requirements before allowing your pet to fly.

It’s a good idea to see your vet before you book your dog on a flight.  You will want to get a picture of overall health and recommendations from your vet for a stress-free flight.  


Risky Business

If your dog must fly in the cargo hold, a whole new set of risks apply.  First:  If your dog is brachycephalic (dogs with a smashed-in face like Pugs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, Pekinese, Bull Mastiffs, Chows, Chihuahuas and others,) DO NOT FLY THEM IN THE CARGO HOLD. This is serious.  Look it up.  Ask your vet.   Their short nasal passages leave them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.  In fact, since May 2005 the Department of Transportation has kept a record of pets killed, injured and lost.  You may want to check up on your airline before you agree to let your pet fly in the cargo area: http://www.thirdamendment.com/AnimalReports.pdf

So, how do you make this trip as safe as possible? 

  • Book direct flights and fly on the same flights as your dog.
    • This reduces the risk of your pet not making the connection.  We’ve all lost a bag like this.  How much more distraught would you be losing your dog?
    • Ask if you can watch your dog being loaded and unloaded.
  • Book flights that avoid extreme temperatures.
    • In winter, try to get on that afternoon flight and in the summer, mornings or evenings are best.
  • Before your trip give your dog at least a month of hanging out in the carrier to let him get accustomed to it and reduce the stress of a new environment.
  • Don’t feed your dog 4-6 hours before the flight. Small amounts of water are fine.
  • Avoid flying at the busiest times:  holidays 
    • Baggage handlers are under a lot of pressure to get planes loaded and unloaded and that sometimes means the gentle touch goes by the wayside.

What a Relief

In August of 2016 federal regulation required airports serving over 10,000 customers annually to install at least one indoor pet relief area.  The post-security service animal relief area (SARA) was intended to accommodate service animals; but other pets are now benefitting.  These areas must be indoors, after you pass through security and must be wheelchair accessible so the pet owner can clean up after their pet uses the facilities.  Now you no longer have to go outside to potty and then back through TSA, put your shoes and belt back on, to make a mad dash for your gate before you get left behind.  Thank you, DOT!  Know before you “go.”  Look up your airports of departure and arrival at Pet Friendly Travel to find the location of the relief areas where you’ll be travelling.


That’s the poop on flying with your dog.  Consult your veterinarian before travelling and if Fido must make the trip with you, consider an option other than flying.  Flying humans is tough enough.  Until next time, safe travels!


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