How to Fly With Your Dog

Posted May 2, 2017 in Tips

With summer time around the corner, traveling is more common than ever. You probably don’t want to leave your dog at home when you head out on your adventure. But flying with a dog can be challenging and possibly traumatic if not done right. Here are some tips to make your pup’s first flight run smoothly, from start to finish.

Book Sooner Rather than Later

Unfortunately, there are usually restrictions on how many dogs are allowed on each flight. Only one or dogs can fly at once, so you need to book early to get your dog a spot. Before you book your ticket, call your airline to check that their is availability for your dog. When they give you the okay, purchase your ticket and reserve your dog’s “seat” while you’re on the phone.

Choosing a Flight

Obviously we all would prefer flying direct rather than having a layover. But when you’re with a dog, it will make things a whole lot easier. You should also consider flying on a weekday because the airports are less crowded.

Make an Appointment With Your Vet

It is important to check in with your pet’s vet before you go on your trip. They need to be up to date on all their vaccinations and receive a health certificate that is dated no more than 10 days before your departure. Check out the USDA’s website to find out what the specific restrictions are for your trip, whether that be international or in the U.S. You should discuss whether or not your dog needs any medication for the flight. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs usually should not be given sedatives or tranquilizers prior to flying. But you can discuss this beforehand with your vet if your dog has had prior issues with traveling.

Choose a Carrier

Getting the right carrier for your type of dog is very important. The first choice you will make is whether you want a hard-sided or soft sided carrier. If you will be taking your dog as a carry on for under your set, choose a soft-sided option. If your dog will be in the cargo hold, go for a hard-sided carrier. Look at the size restrictions for your airline before you purchase your carrier. You want your dog to have enough space to be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Write your dog’s name and identification on the carrier, along with your address and phone number.

Practice Makes Perfect

If your dog has experienced traveling in their carrier before, it will make the flight much less stressful. A few weeks before your trip, put them in the carrier and drive around town. Increase the length of the trips little by little to get them accustomed to the feeling of spending a long time in their carrier.

Before the Trip

The night before or day that you leave, make sure your dog has gotten a lot of exercise. If they are tired, they will be less hyper on the flight. As for food, feed your dog 4 hours before the flight. Too full of a stomach could cause discomfort. Give them water up until right before the flight. If you are checking your pet, leave a water dish in the carrier in case of a long delay. This allows the airline employees to give your dog water or food if it were going to be a long wait. Let your dog go to the bathroom right before you enter the airport or in the airport if they have “doggy stations” and allow pets to be out of their carriers.

What to Pack

  • Health certificate and medical records
  • Contact information for your regular veterinarian and an emergency contact at your destination
  • Comb, brush, and flea control products
  • Medication for your dog
  • Spare collar with id tag
  • Paper towels and stain remover- This is good if your dog makes an accident on the flight.
  • Dog food and treats for the entire trip- Dogs will want to eat their own food on the trip, not something new.
  • Bottled water- This water can be given to your dog when on the flight if they need it.
  • Food and water dishes
  • Leash and poop bags
  • Your dog’s favorite toy and blanket

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