10 Tips for Taking a Dog on a Plane

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Planning a trip with your pet? Will you by flying? If you are getting ready to take a vacation with your pet and will be traveling on an airplane, there are 10 tips you need to bear in mind to keep your pet safe and comfortable when traveling by airline.

Book Your Flight Early

What you may not realize is that airlines oftentimes only allow one or two dogs (or other pets) on board a particular flight. Therefore, if you are planning on traveling with your dog via airplane, you need to book your flight early. Before you book a ticket, call the airline directly and make certain that there is space for your pet on a flight. You are best served by reserving your seat, or seats, while you are on the phone with the agent who verified that there was an open space for a pet on a particular flight.

You are even better served if you request an email in writing confirming that you have been advised that there is pet availability on the flight on which you booked a ticket. Make sure that email is available on your day of travel in the event any issue comes up regarding a space on a flight for your pet.

Take a Direct Flight

If you will be traveling by air with your pet, book a direct flight, if at all possible. If your pet will be traveling on board the plane with you, you will make your trip far easier if you do not need to switch flights on the way to your final destination.

If your pet needs to travel in the cargo hold of the plane, a direct flight becomes even more important. You don’t want to run the risk of your pet being misdirected or delayed somehow because of a plane change when travel is not via a direct flight.

10 Tips for How to Travel with a Dog on a Plane

Visit the Vet

Make an appointment for your pet to see the vet. Make sure your pet is in good health and that vaccinations are current. You will also want to obtain what is called a health certificate that confirms your pet’s fitness. Make sure you obtain this verification no more than 10 days before you begin your trip.

Purchase an Appropriate Carrier

Make sure you have a suitable carrier for your pet to travel by air. The carrier needs to be large enough to permit your pet to stand up and turn around with ease. There are carriers that specifically are designed for air travel. You can consider a soft-sided carrier if your pet will be traveling on board with you. However, if your pet will be traveling in the cargo hold, it must be a hard plastic one to optimize your pet’s safety and comfort.

Proper Identification

Write your pet’s name and your basic contact information directly on the carrier. Include identification tags on the carrier as well. The tags need to include your pet’s name and your full contact information.

Also include the contact information for an alternate individual. For example, you might include contact information for a person at your final destination.

Introduce Your Pet to the Carrier

Before you depart on your trip, get your pet used to the carrier. You might want to place your pet into the carrier and take rides in the car. This will familiarize your pet with the carrier on all levels.

Feed Before Flight

You do not want your pet to travel on a full stomach. This can prove to be uncomfortable for your pet. Feed your furry friend about four hours before the flight. This provides time for your pet to have a healthy meal, digest it, and relieve his or her self before the scheduled flight.

Arrive at the Airport Early

Most airlines recommend arriving a couple hours before your flight to check-in if you are traveling with a pet. More often than not, airlines do not let passengers with pets to check in more than four hours before a scheduled flight, so you don’t need to arrive inordinately early.

Avoid Sedatives

If at all possible, avoid giving your pet a sedative prior to a flight. A sedative can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems with the pressure changes associated with flying by air.

When You Arrive

Spend time with your pet when you arrive, particularly if he or she traveled in a plane cargo hold. Exercise your pet as well. For example, if you travel with a dog, take your pooch for a long walk upon arrival.


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Jessica Kane

by Jessica Kane

Jessica Kane is a writer for Handicapped Pets, your most trusted source for dog wheelchairs and harnesses.

2 Responses to “10 Tips for Taking a Dog on a Plane”



Great advice. It certainly timely after what United Airlines did to the poor Frenchie.



Thank you so much for the advise, I will take my pet with me next time when ill go for vacations.

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