4 Tips for Flying with a Dog

dog sleeping in an open orange pet carrier

As you get ready to travel on vacation, plan family visits or even start thinking about quick getaways with your pet, it’s important to make sure that you are prepared so that you can make flying with a dog safe and enjoyable for everyone.

1. Know your pet

Before you book a flight with your pet, think about how they might handle the trip. Some pets do not travel well because of medical conditions, age, or temperament. Flying with a dog that may have breathing difficulties such as a pug or bulldog may not be permitted on some airlines. Before you fly, check with your airline to see if they have breed or size restrictions.

2. Do your research

Know the airlines’ specific rules and regulations, and know what documentation is needed. Federal regulations require pets to be at least 8 weeks of age to travel. It’s also a good idea to visit your veterinarian before you book your travel. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is healthy enough to fly.

Before flying with a pet overseas

When traveling overseas, your pet will probably need a passport. Some countries also require your pet to be quarantined for a certain period of time. Before taking your pet to another country, make sure you understand the requirements for coming back into the U.S. as well.

3. Booking your flight

When you’re ready to book your flight, try to make your reservation early for yourself and your pet as many airlines limit the number of pets allowed on each flight. If you can, book a non-stop flight to avoid having to change planes.

Consider the temperature

Before you book your flight, consider the season and know the airline minimum and maximum temperature guidelines. During warm months, select early morning or late evening flight times. In cooler months, choose mid-day flights. Try to avoid flying with a dog during extreme temperatures.

4. How to fly with a dog

It’s also a good idea to get your pet used to a travel carrier or crate before your flight. If your pet isn’t used to busy places like airports, you may want to take them out to get used to crowds before you put your dog on a plane. Make sure your travel carrier has updated contact information on it.

Day of the Flight

The day of the flight can run smoothly for both of you if you make a checklist of everything you need to do before flying with pets:

  • Take your dog on a walk before the flight.
  • Play with your cat to help tire her out before being crated.
  • Keep your pet’s stomach empty or nearly empty.
  • Be sure your pet is wearing an I.D. tag.
  • Pack a pet supplies bag that includes food, bowls, medication and a leash or harness.
  • Let all airline personnel (including flight attendants and pilots) know that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold.
  • Keep a recent photo of your pet with you at all times.
  • Relax knowing you have fully prepared you and your pet for a safe flight. Your vacation together awaits!
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