Flying with Dogs: What to Know Before You Travel

Heading out with your pup this holiday season? Great! But there are important considerations that you should take care of of before you board your flight.

By properly preparing, you and your dog should have a peaceful flight. Read on to learn how to make traveling with your pup free of stress!

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flying with your dog

Do your homework!

Be sure to look up your airline’s restrictions on weight limits, crate size, pet travel fees, feeding and breed restrictions, and whether or not your pooch is allowed to travel in the cabin with you.

International travel with an in-cabin pet is prohibited on many airlines, and only small dogs are allowed to travel in the cabin under the seat. Make sure you’re well-versed on your airline’s restrictions before you book your flight. If you have any questions, contact your airline.

Check for pet potty stations.

Many airports these days have set up potty stations for pets that allow your dog to relieve themselves without ever leaving the terminal. Some even come equipped with fire hydrants to encourage shy dogs to go, like this one at O’Hare.

This will become especially important if you have a layover where you’ll be changing planes. To see if the airports you’ll be passing through have pet potty stations you can use, check this out.

Take a trip to the vet.

Many airlines require animals to have up-to-date vaccinations and health records. Even if your airline doesn’t have this requirement, it’s a good idea to have them on hand just in case.

Your vet will give your dog a basic physical exam to confirm that they’re healthy enough to fly. Plus, your vet can also advise you on ways to keep your pet calm during the flight, especially if your dog is particularly rambunctious or anxious.

Get your dog used to the crate.

A few weeks before you fly, let your dog investigate his new crate. If you wait to place him in it until the morning of the flight, the unfamiliar environment will only add to his stress.

Place the crate or carrier in a room of your house that your dog frequents. Leave the door or zipper open and let him explore it at his own pace. If the crate smells like home, your dog will be much more comfortable.

Tire your dog out before leaving.

This means making plenty of time to play with your pooch in the week leading up to the trip. Take long walks or runs, play fetch and other games, go the vet, go to the groomer’s – do everything you can to tire out your pup.

On the morning of the flight, make sure you walk and play with your dog until they’re nice and tired. It’s a good idea to expend as much of their energy as you can so they can sleep on the plane.

Place an absorbent puppy pad in the crate.

Flying with dogs can be risky for a lot of reasons, especially when it comes to in-crate accidents. But don’t worry – these things happen, even if you are extra careful and make a bathroom trip just before you board the plane.

For extra peace of mind, purchase an absorbent travel pad and put it in the bottom of the crate even if your dog is potty trained.

Bring treats!

Getting to the airport, taking one last bathroom trip, and boarding the plane all take time. Even if you feed your pup in the morning, it’s likely that he’ll get hungry at some point during the flight.

So be sure to stash a packet of his favorite treats in your carry-on luggage or in a side pocket of the carrier. This will help keep your dog full and take his mind off the stress of flying.

Place a comfort item in the crate.

While many airlines tend to have weight restrictions for traveling with pets, a piece of your clothing or their favorite blanket shouldn’t be an issue. Your scent will help calm your furry friend, and may even help them settle down for a nap.

However, you should steer away from placing any toys in the crate as these can be choking hazards and may energize your pup instead of calming him down.

Have a Safe Flight!

I hope this has given you some helpful ideas on how to make flying with your dog a pleasant experience. Flying with your dog is both fun and challenging, but the good always outweighs the bad!

Take your dog to the vet and check if the airport you’re passing is pet-friendly first. Bring treats, puppy pads, and more. Good luck, and enjoy your trip!