It’s everyone’s dream to tag along with their fur friends on all their trips, right? Unfortunately, this dream might not be possible for pet parents with certain dog breeds but the story is different for owners with small dogs.
If you are lucky enough to travel with your pup, you should keep several important things in mind for your dog’s well-being, comfort, and safety. This post will take you through the ten best things to remember when flying with your puppy.
Let’s get started!
How do I prepare to fly with my young puppy?
If you have a dog, you probably know the struggles that come with traveling with them on an airplane. The bright lights, loud noise, changes in temperature and pressure in main cabins, and limited ability to use the bathroom can be stressful for your fur friends.
Here are a few tips to help you ensure your pup has a comfortable and safe flight:
Find a comfortable pet carrier
The first thing you need to do when flying with your pup is to find a comfortable carrier. You should research your airline’s specific requirements for the type and size of the carried allowed to bring your pet on board.
And although the size of the pet carrier will differ from one airline to the other, most will require it to be between 16-19 inches long or less and around 10 inches tall. However, don’t force your pup into a small carrier; this can stress them and make their flight awful.
A well-ventilated travel carrier with good airflow is vital if you are traveling with a short-muzzled (brachycephalic) breed. These dogs can have respiratory problems in confined areas with increased humidity and temperature.
If you haven’t decided which airline to choose yet, you should check the International Air Transport Association (IATA). They have guidelines that most airlines follow, including the pet carrier requirements.
In addition to buying a suitable carrier or travel crate, it’s important to help your pup relax and feel comfortable in the carrier. With the help of a dog trainer, you can put your pup into the carrier for a nap and place it under a table or desk to help them get used to it.
Also, remember that the dog’s carrier will become your carry-on luggage. This means that you can only bring one other personal item into the cabin. As such, you need a carrier that can handle most of your needs – such as one with side pockets for your immediate needs.
Pack all your pup’s necessities
The busy human traffic, blinding lights, and unfamiliar environment can stress your furry friend. You should pack your pup’s necessities when flying to help create a familiar environment.
Pack enough toys, food, and other treats to get your puppy through several days in the plane and when you land. For instance, you can carry food, water – in a non-spiller carrier – and maybe a bone to keep your pooch busy during the flight.
Don’t worry if your fur friend fails to eat their favorite treat or doesn’t play with the bone. The puppy may be undergoing travel anxiety – it’s normal!
But remember, you can’t pack everything. The flight attendant may help you get some of the dog’s treats available on the plane, such as an ice cube.
Get in touch with your airline
Most airlines will only allow a certain number of animals per flight, so it’s always advised that you call to confirm that the plane has a space for your fur friend. For this reason, it’s always recommended that you book a flight for you and your pup simultaneously.
Here are some of the commercial airlines’ pet travel pages to ease your work:
- Alaska airlines
- American Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- JetBlue Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- United Airlines
Visit a vet
Both international and domestic flights require that your puppy be healthy enough to travel, so visit the vet before flying out. Some airlines will demand that you have a veterinary health certificate issued within a specified number of days before travel.
Your pup should deworm at least three days before the flight. Also, remember that your puppy won’t be accepted for travel if they have signs of recent surgeries, so ensure they’re fully healed if they underwent any procedure.
Always bring your documents
Whether or not your airline requires you to, get a veterinary health certificate before flying out. It won’t cost you much, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
The certificate shows that your furry friend has had all the vaccinations and shots and is A-OK to travel in the passenger cabin. For instance, most international flights will demand that your pooch has received a rabies vaccine, be dewormed, and be free from diseases.
Don’t forget about your destination
Different countries and states have different rules and animal importation laws, so you should consider local laws when planning your trip. Trust me, running into trouble for bringing your fur friend to your final destination is the last thing you want!
Research the departing and arrival airports thoroughly before your flight to know the rules you must abide by. This will also help you with important information, such as the location of the pet relief area.
Ensure that your pup is old enough
The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that puppies be at least eight weeks old and have been weaned for five days or more to travel via planes. If you have a small breed dog, there may be the minimum age and weight requirements, too.
However, big adult dogs aren’t allowed into the airplane cabin, mainly because of the weight restrictions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also requires dogs entering the country to be immunized against dog rabies. And for most international travels, the puppy should be vaccinated at least a month before the travel date, and the rabies vaccine isn’t administered to pups three months of age or younger.
Thus, dogs getting into the U.S through international flights must be 16 weeks of age or more. So, check your pup’s birth date and ensure they can be allowed into the country.
Ensure your dog has the temperament to fly
Unlike driving, dogs don’t really like flying. Most of them develop travel anxiety and stress, making their flight tiring and exhausting. They may start crying unbearably during the flight, making your journey nerve-racking.
Unfortunately, some airlines require your pup to be well-trained or quiet to be allowed to fly. This makes it a mistake to have vocal dogs in a plane.
If you feel your pup would be affected by the flight, do them a favor and leave them behind. Many great dog-sitters and dog resorts are available to take great care of the pup while you are away.
Line your dog carrier with a DryFur pad
I know: your dog could be potty-trained well and may not need a DryFur. However, accidents occur, especially when your fur friend is in high-stress environments.
So, line your puppy’s carrier with a DryFur pad to be on the safe side. It wicks away moisture to keep your pup dry and comfortable during the flight.
You can carry your furry friend to the restroom whenever they show you signs of peeing. The pad will help you avoid the mess if they can’t hold their bladder.
Prepare your puppy for the flight
Always consult with your vet about water, food, and medications to pack for the flight. Some may advise you to sedate your furry friend to keep them quiet. However, check whether your airline allows travelers to have sedated an animal with them.
Also, remember that the idea of sedating your dog isn’t clear (even the American Veterinary Medical Association doesn’t have one good answer). So, weigh the pros and cons before sedating your fur best friend.
You might also want to check with the recommendation from the humane society of the United States.
Moving on from medical concerns, familiarize your pup with the carrier or crate before the trip. You can also take them for a long walk before the flight to make them tired.
A tired dog is less antsy and will probably sleep throughout the flight. Also, take them to the airport’s departure area several times to familiarize them with the new, ‘tiring’ environment.
Handling the flight day with your pup
During the flight day, avoid solid foods or other foods – as advised by the vet – a few hours before the flight. However, put little water in your pup’s water bowl and take them outside to exercise.
Place a few dog pee pads (like a DryFur pad) inside the puppy carrier or crate and carry more to add during the flight. Then, walk into the airport with relevant documents (including the CDC dog import if needed) and sign the required paperwork.
Remember, the Federal Aviation Administration considers the pet’s carrier carry-on luggage, so you must take it through the metal detector device. Remove your pup momentarily as you screen the luggage.
What do I take during the travel day?
We know that the day of the flight is busy, so we made this checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything for the flight. Here are the things you need to meet entry requirements and fly safely and comfortably with your furry friend:
- Health certificates, such as the rabies vaccination certificate
- Pup harness and leash
- ID tag for your puppy and carrier
- A dog carrier that meets the airline’s requirements
- Pet fee and reservation receipt
- Pee pads
- Paper towels, wet wipes, and plastic bags
- A water bowl and water
- Soft toys and treats for your pooch
- Pup meals
- Ensure your pup is in good health
- Carry extra fees
- Change of clothes for you in case it gets messy
How much will it cost to fly with my pup?
If the airline of your choice allows you to tag along with your furry friend, it must be one of your happiest days – you’re finally going to show your new puppy the world. But how much will that cost you?
Although the price will vary from one airline to the other, most charge an average of $125 per trip. However, it’s important to note that the price is affected by several factors, including your dog’s weight and the flight distance.
The bottom line
Let’s face it, flying with a dog can be nerve-racking. Luckily, we have gathered some tips to help you safely and comfortably fly with your puppy.
The key is planning to help ensure your fur friend’s trip is more comfortable, calm, and safe. Good luck as you use this post to fly safely with your canine companion.