Flying With A Dog

Dog owners who go on business trips or take vacations have to decide whether to board their dog in a kennel or take the dog with them.

For many dog owners, leaving their animals behind is not an option; they want the animal to accompany them, even if it means flying with a dog.

The key element when flying with a dog on an airplane is to make plans and work out the specifics in advance of the flight. The following is a list of details to consider before flying with your dog.

If you are flying with your dog you will want to plan a direct flight to their destination, if possible. This will shorten flight time and help to reduce your dog's time in the animal-transportation carrier.

You should call the airline as soon as the itinerary has been finalized. The airline may have rules, regulations, and policies that must be followed.

If an overseas trip has been planned, there may be quarantine regulations that must be considered. You'll need to bring a certificate showing the dates of the shots your dog has had. Ask the airline what their requirements are.

Calling the airline in advance will enable you to discuss any requests or requirements that you may have.

If you're sending your dog by cargo, it is imperative to make sure that the cargo compartment of the airplane is pressurized, so that the animal will have oxygen and be warm enough while traveling. Read cargo compartment dangers

If your dog is small, most airlines will allow your dog in the passengers cabin secured in a carrier. Ask the airlines what their weight limit is and if their "quota" has been met for your flight.
Pet Carriers
There are different types of pet carriers used by the various airlines. Contact the airline and ask them if they have a carrier for your dog.If not, inquire what the regulations are from the airline you are traveling on, pertaining to the carriers dimensions you will be providing.

Having the carrier at home before the flight will allow the dog owner to help the dog get used to being confined. This will help reduce some of the fear or anxiety that the dog may experience on the day of the flight.

Some dogs need mild tranquilizers to help them remain calm while flying. Discuss this with your vet.
Departure Day

When the flight day arrives, you should plan to start the day early. This will give you enough time to exercise the dog, allow the animal to 'go potty,' and help your dog become comfortable in the carrier.

Before your dog enters the carrier, you need to place your dog's identifying information on the carrier and make sure it is on your dog as well.

Food And Meds In Flight

Feed at least 5 hours in advance of travel and avoid water for your dog within 1 hour of flight. (Water may be advisable for dogs traveling in cargo on long flights.) 

For dogs traveling in the passengers cabin, you may offer ice cubes or a sip of water toward the end of the flight as needed. 

Avoid giving a rawhide chew stick as it could get stuck in your dog's throat and assistance would be difficult. If your dog is on medication, schedule it accordingly.

A good idea is to bring along your dogs favorite toy, or surprise him with a new one,  a soft blanket to be put in the carrier, some treats and of course his food, given to him after arrival.
Identification Tags
Write your pets name on the carrier in large letters, along with your name and contact information. You need to make sure that this information is securely attached to your dog's carrier as well as on his tag on his collar.

An implanted ID (microchip) is also a good idea, but must be obtained via a veterinarian prior to the trip. After you release the dog and carrier to the airline, you need to request confirmation your dog has been securely and safely loaded onto the plane. Then you also need to verify, with an airline representative, that your dog is on the right plane.
Instructions at Time of Arrival

After you arrive at the intended destination, you should immediately tell a flight attendant and an airline representative in the airport that your dog is on board.

You can request that the dog's removal from the plane be given immediate priority. Finally, you need to ask for the exact point of removal. Some airlines have a separate office or facility where passengers pick up cargo, including animals, from a flight.

Dog owners who follow the above guidelines will be well-prepared when they are flying with their dog. They will ensure the dog's safety. In addition, the dog will be more at ease and less likely to experience fear or anxiety during an airline flight.

Flying with a dog can be a great experience if precautions are taken to prepare ahead of time.

Additional Information:
Pet Airlines
Pet Air Line/Pet Shipping/Animal Transportation

Providing a list of pet friendly airlines

TheHumane Society of the US: Why Pets Shouldn't Travel By Air
Be aware of the risks, and explore all your options before booking your pet's flight.

If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, you can increase the chances of a safe flight for your pet by following these tips
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is now tracking the numbers of animals that died or were lost or injured during transport. Complete monthly reports are published in DOT's Air Travel Consumer Report.

Kennel size and weight requirements, fees.'s annual review of pet-friendly airlines which outlines the best options for traveling in-cabin with animal companions.

For an Extensive List of "No Kill" Shelters and Animal Shelters click here