Preparing for Air Travel With Dogs

Air travel can be stressful enough in this post-pandemic world of coronavirus revenge travel, but when combined with your pup it becomes even more so. If possible, book nonstop flights as it decreases the chances that they’ll be left on the tarmac during weather delays or mishandled by airline employees. Here’s what you should know about air travel with dogs.

Do Your Homework

Before flying with your pup, consult your veterinarian and fulfill all necessary paperwork. Just like you would do with your children in family travel. Your pup may require a health certificate and proof of vaccination; contact your airline to find out their specific requirements as these may differ. Also, find out the process for entering and leaving your destination country if necessary.

Some airlines impose restrictions on which breeds of dogs they allow into the passenger cabin, typically due to their anatomy and ability to breathe on planes. Snub-nosed breeds such as bulldogs are particularly prone to breathing issues as a result of their anatomical features.

If your dog fits under your seat in front, then a cargo hold may be an option for travel. When booking direct flights it will help minimize stress levels when traveling with pets.

Cargo: Before flying with your pup in the cargo hold, it’s essential that they become familiar with their carrier. Leave it open at home and reward your dog when he or she enters it – this will reinforce that this place is positive and safe! Adding treats or food inside may also help your dog remain calm during the flight.

Air travel for dogs poses unique hazards when transported as cargo holds are not pressurized and climate controlled, leading to extreme temperatures which could result in heat stroke, hypothermia, or other dangerous conditions; additionally, a lack of oxygen could contribute to respiratory difficulties including asphyxiation.

Considering your pup will be traveling via cargo hold, it is wise to research animal hospitals and veterinary clinics in their destination country, along with contact details. Also, have your veterinarian send over a letter detailing your pup’s medical history and current prescriptions just in case any unexpected issues arise at the airport.

Related Article:   Simple Tips To Have A Great Adventure Travel Experience When Traveling As A Small Group

Prepare Your Dog

Travel can be stressful for both humans and pets alike, but with some advance preparation, you can help make the journey less distressful for both. A little preparation could make their experience more pleasant.

As part of your preparations for travel with your dog, make sure he or she is comfortable in his carrier. Before your trip begins, leave it out where he can see it for several weeks – initially using treats as bait if necessary – then gradually coax him in until they willingly enter voluntarily. Additionally, practicing entering and exiting with treats at home may help create positive associations with being inside his carrier.

Before flying with your pet, ensure they have been examined and all vaccines are up-to-date. Your veterinarian can advise what documents need to be brought with them to the airport; ask for a health certificate with an expiration date, microchip ID number, and your contact info if possible.

When traveling with your pup in the cabin, make sure he or she has an appropriate leash and harness that are long enough to keep him under control. Freyer suggests choosing one with a flat buckle that can slide under their crate with less risk of getting caught on anything during flight; additionally, he advises purchasing an expandable collar that still meets airline requirements.

Many airlines require that dogs in cargo holds remain locked inside a crate during flight, so if you decide to ship your canine companion be sure to pack his or her own crate and water bottle, as well as inform airport staff and flight crew of this fact so they are more attentive during travel.

Be prepared for your dog to use the bathroom during his flight by providing him with puppy pads lining your crate for him to use during the flight. Make sure he stays active up until boarding time to reduce anxiety levels onboard or speak to your veterinarian about giving a mild sedative during his flight if you think it necessary.

Related Article:   Top 5 Places to Travel by Van

Bring a Travel Carrier

Airline-compliant carriers are an absolute necessity for air travel with dogs. Be sure to purchase and introduce one as early as possible so your pup associates traveling with it as something positive, keeping it accessible in your home so your pet can become acquainted with entering and exiting it more frequently and becoming used to entering and exiting as they feed in it as well. Feeding can help reinforce its place as a cozy, secure area.

Consider selecting a soft-sided carrier to make travel with your pet simpler. Check with each airline regarding its requirements for in-cabin pet travel as they vary; JetBlue counts a pet carrier as carry-on baggage and only allows one additional personal item; some carriers, like Sherpa, come equipped with an attached sleeve that secures to Away luggage for added peace of mind.

Traveling with a pet should ideally take place during less frantic travel periods, such as holidays and the summer. If necessary, book flights as far in advance as possible and try to avoid connecting flights which might add stressors for both of you.

Consider asking your veterinarian to prescribe a pheromone-calming collar or sedatives for your dog during air travel to help reduce anxiety. Trazodone (brand names Desyrel(r), Gabapentin(brand names Neurontin(r) and Alprazolam (Xanax(r) or Niravam(r) are popularly recommended by veterinarians to calm pets during air travel; request and fill your prescription well ahead of your trip so you have enough time to test dose your pet(s), assess how he/she reacts and determine the proper dosage before departing.

Domestic airlines generally allow small dogs flying domestically on domestic flights to travel in the cabin with them under your seat in front. When traveling internationally or to/from countries with high rates of rabies, however, most airlines require that your pet be shipped as cargo in a pressurized and temperature-controlled hold.

Know the Rules

Many airlines have their own specific rules regarding air travel with dogs, which may vary based on breed. Your veterinarian can be invaluable when it comes to helping navigate these requirements, but it’s wise to do your own research as well. Assuring your pet a smooth journey begins with finding an adequate travel carrier. These have come a long way since the plastic boxes of old. Today there are models with wheels, backpack straps, and purse designs. Cages or carriers that have been damaged should be carefully examined prior to flying as airlines often reject damaged crates or carriers; additionally, it would be wise to bring along an ID tag displaying your pet’s name, contact number, and destination address just in case their crate gets separated during transport or if their dog escapes while loading or unloading from a plane!

Related Article:   Slow Travel, Rich Experiences: Embracing The Beauty Of Train Holidays

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises travelers with dogs that travel internationally to make sure that they have all necessary vaccinations and boosters administered, as well as a valid rabies certificate for when traveling in high-risk regions. Airlines often require passengers with service animals to present a valid rabies certificate when flying; it’s wise to keep this in mind when planning your journey.

As part of your planning, be mindful of both weather and timing when flying your pet. Connecting flights should be avoided to reduce delays that could put their lives in jeopardy during transit; additionally, holidays or weekends tend to be highly busy times for airports, leading to additional stress for your animal companion.

At one time, many pet parents would sedate their dogs prior to flying; however, this practice is no longer recommended by experts such as the Humane Society or other groups. Sedation can cause breathing issues and an inability for your dog to respond appropriately when jostled during travel as well as having difficulty controlling its temperature. If you decide to use sedation with your pet before travel begins, always consult your vet first and administer a small test dose first.


About the author

Kristina Rodopska

Kristina Rodopska has been working for over 5 years as a Lean expert and engineer in the field of quality. Familiar with the implementation of improvements in the operations and processes within the different organizations and projects. Evaluates all continuous improvement activities and implements plans to optimize performance.