Many pet parents are nervous when they think of flying with a dog. There’s the cost of the ticket, there’s the lack of space in airplane cabins, and then there are all those other people around you who probably don’t want to deal with an excitable dog running up and down their aisle! The thought of their dog flying in the cargo hold also is unsettling, but traveling with a dog is something that many people have to do at some point or other. This article will tell you what are the 5 things you need to do before flying with a dog and that will make it a little easier for both of you!

1. Ask yourself if it’s really necessary to take your dog along

Flying can be very stressful for a dog. Think of all the unfamiliar sounds, smells, and people a dog is exposed to while flying. Not to mention the changes in air pressure, temperature, and all this accompanied by a limited possibility to go to the bathroom.

Unless you’re moving permanently or taking a really long trip, avoid taking your dog along with you. Think about hiring a pet sitter, asking someone you trust to take care of your dog, or boarding your dog in a facility you trust.

There’s a big chance that your dog will have to fly in the cargo hold with the luggage and freight. Usually, only small breeds are allowed to travel in the cabin and not all airlines or destinations allow this option. Flying in the cargo hold means that, besides your dog being in a strange and possibly frightening place, it will be away from you. This only adds up to its stress.

If you’re traveling internationally, there may be some animal importation laws that may require some complicated procedures and quarantine periods. This can you’ll need to be apart from your dog for a while after landing. So look into the destination you picked so you don’t get any nasty surprises.

2. Check if there are any fees for flying with a dog

Flying with a dog also adds up to the trip costs. Most airlines charge a fee that can range from $75 to $200 each way. This fee may depend on the combined weight of your dog and the crate as well as the travel distance. Some airlines can have fees as high as several hundred dollars for large breeds.

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3. Preparing the equipment you’ll need

Whether your dog is flying in the cabin or traveling in the cargo hold, you’ll need to get an appropriate dog carrier. It needs to be durable, have plenty of ventilation, strong handles, and a leak-proof bottom.

By crate training your dog before flying, you’ll help reduce your dog’s stress levels during your trip. Most airlines have maximum size requirements for the crate so be sure to ask for that information from the airline company you pick. However, the crate should be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around inside it.

To help ensure your dog’s safety and well-being, mark the crate with the words “live animal” and arrows showing which way is up. It’s also a good idea to attach a current photo of your dog to it along with a label with your name, phone number, address, and destination contact information.

Pack things like food, bowls, toys, treats, poop bags, any medication your dog may need, and a mini first aid kit. You won’t need these on the plane but it’s good to have them around before and after the flight, just in case.

4. Get a health check-up at the vet

You’ll want to make sure that your dog is healthy enough to fly and most airlines also require a clean bill of health in order to allow your dog to travel by plane. Also ask your vet about how should you proceed regarding food, water, and medication immediately before flying with a dog. 

There is some controversy about whether or not a dog should be sedated or tranquilized before flying. Weigh the pros and cons of each option with the help of your vet. He’ll be able to inform you of any health risks associated with sedation.

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5. Pick an appropriate airline and flight

Don’t pick an airline or flight without first reading through the airline’s rules and guidelines for flying with a dog. You don’t want to risk paying for a flight only for your dog to be turned away during boarding.

Some airlines also ban specific breeds from flying. Typically this ban is applied to brachycephalic breeds as their facial structure can make it hard for dogs to breed normally and a variation in air pressure can become a hazard. Some also ban bully breeds, like pit bulls and bull terries, from flying.

Whenever possible, book flights without transfers and during the off-peak seasons to minimize the risk of anything going wrong. If you’re traveling somewhere warm, book flights that are early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid exposing your dog to high temperatures. If you’re traveling somewhere cold, book the flight in the middle of the day when the weather is warmer.

Most airlines also have restrictions on the number of dogs allowed to fly per flight. To avoid any problems, call the airline and ask if they have enough space for you and your dog on the flight you’re looking at before booking.

Making sense of it all

There may come a time when you’ll really need to fly with your dog. It may seem scary but it’s manageable and there’s nothing like being well prepared beforehand. Hopefully, these 5 steps will help you have a smooth trip with your best bud.

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