Flying with a Dog | How to Travel with a Dog on a Plane

Flying with a Dog or Taking your dog on vacation can be fun for both of you, but plan ahead to keep him safe and comfortable. Bring your dog’s usual food to help prevent stomach upsets.

Only give him water that you would drink yourself—don’t let him drink from ponds, streams, or dubious water sources.

Make sure he wears his collar at all times, and attach an additional temporary tag that gives a local phone number, contact, or location.

Flying with a Large Dog

flying with a large dog

Traveling by plane: This involves a different set of risks because unless your dog is very small and will fit in an airline-approved carrier under the seat in front of you, you won’t be able to directly supervise him and ensure that he’s safe throughout the trip.

For that reason, air travel with a do shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Consider whether your dog would be better off being boarded at home while you’re away, and check the specific airline’s rules and fees for carrying a dog before you make your decision.

Dog Safety Tips: How to Keep Your Dog Safe

Puppy-Proofing Your Home

So, If you must fly with your dog, take the following precautions: Unless you have no other choice, and even if it’s more expensive, take a nonstop flight. This sharply reduces the risk that your dog will escape while being loaded and unloaded or wind up on the wrong plane.

If you must change planes or take a flight with a layover, make sure the airline will let you claim and then recheck your dog yourself, and schedule a long enough layover to take your dog for a walk.

If the airline permits dogs to fly in the summer (many don’t), travel only early or late in the day to avoid high temperatures while your dog is being loaded onto the plane and before it takes off.

In very cold weather, travel in the middle of the day. The live-cargo compartments of planes are pressurized and kept between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but your dog’s crate might be on the runway or in another exposed area for a while before being loaded, especially if there’s a flight delay.

4 Mistakes to Avoid when Traveling with Your Dog

tips on boarding your dog

  1. Don’t give your dog food or water for four hours before he’s crated for the flight. This will help keep him from vomiting or needing to urinate or defecate while he’s in the crate.
  2. Don’t give your dog a tranquilizer before a flight unless he’s likely to injure himself trying to break out of the crate. A groggy, sedated dog is less able to adapt to changes in temperature and other environmental conditions than an un-tranquilized dog would be.
  3. To avoid extra delays and confusion, don’t fly when the rest of the world is trying to get away on a holiday. Leave at least one day earlier or later than the masses.
  4. Remember: Don’t leave anything in the crate your dog might tear up or choke on.

How to Prepare your Dog for a Flight

Clearly mark your dog’s crate, using stickers or permanent markers, with the following information:

  1. your dog’s name, age, breed, special medical concerns, special behavior concerns (for example, “Bites when frightened!” or “Very friendly”), and a physical description (size, color, hair length) or photograph;
  2. the travel date, airline, and flight number;
  3. your name, home address and phone number, and cell phone or pager number;
  4. the names and phone numbers of other people to contact in case of an emergency—one in your departure city and one in your arrival city.

Make sure your kennel closes tightly and securely. If your dog somehow got out of his kennel, he could be lost forever. Just above the kennel door, write: “Do not open this door without the permission of the owner or a veterinarian.”

Rules for Flying with a Dog

flying with a dog

Arrive at the airport early and check-in, but keep your dog with you until the last possible moment (usually 30 minutes before departure). If there’s time, take your dog for a quick walk outside the terminal to urinate or defecate.

Once you’re at the gate, watch out the window for your dog’s crate to be loaded into the live-cargo hold. If you don’t see the crate being put on the plane before the last call for boarding, ask the gate attendant to call the baggage area to make sure your dog is on board.

Usually, a gate attendant will do this happily, reporting back that, yes, your dog is on board. If you get any flak, refuse to board until someone confirms that your dog is on the plane.