A Step-By-Step Guide to Safe Dog Air Travel

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A Step-By-Step Guide to Safe Dog Air Travel

Planning a trip with your pooch? Over two million animals fly safely every year, and our friends at PuppySpot.com, the trusted service that helps place healthy puppies into happy homes, have some travel tips to keep you at ease and prepared before flying precious Fido on a plane. Our step-by-step guide to safe pet air travel will help you plan and navigate through the whole process.

  1. Make Sure Your Dog is Healthy Enough to Fly
    A dog with known health issues or of senior age is more likely to respond negatively to the stresses of flying and is at greater risk for injury. In fact, many airlines such as Delta require a health certificate within 10 days of departure and have age limitations on flying pets. Not only is a health check often required, but it’s wise as a responsible pet owner to get your dog examined by a licensed veterinarian and current on all vaccinations prior to travel.
  1. Get Your Pup Accustomed to The Crate
    Every pup that goes on an airplane (whether as carry-on or cargo) is required to be contained within an appropriately-sized kennel. For this reason, it’s important to acclimate your dog to the crate well in advance of her trip. To ease your pup’s feeling of staying within a confined space for a period of time, purchase the kennel as far in advance of your trip as possible and follow the rules of crate trainingsuch as leaving the door open and encouraging entry with a chew toy or treat in order to get your pup as used to the crate. Also, be sure to pay attention to your airline’s specific rules for kennels, as each varies slightly. For example, United has a page dedicated to kennel guidelines. You don’t want any surprises at check-in.
  2. Be Aware of Airline Restrictions
    All major airlines have strict weather restrictions when it comes to flying pets, as animals can be extra sensitive to extreme heat or cold. So, to avoid any surprises, check with your preferred airline prior to travel, as your dog will be unable to fly in very high or very low temperatures.
  3. Be Aware of Breed Restrictions
    If you own a snub-nosed breed such as a PugBulldog or Boxer, you may not be able to fly your pooch on certain airlines. Due to the respiratory difficulties that some of these breeds experience due to the anatomy of their noses, some airlines such as Delta do not allow these breeds on their planes. Do your research ahead of time and make sure your chosen airline is the right fit for your dog.
  4. The Early Pooch Gets the Worm
    You know the old standard of arriving at the airport two hours ahead of your flight to leave enough time for security, checking baggage, etc.? Well the same, if not more of a conservative estimate applies to doggie travel. Give you and your pup plenty of time to get situated and address any issues with TSA well ahead of departure.
  5. Feed and Exercise Appropriately Prior to Travel
    Experts advise feeding your dog approximately 4-6 hours prior to flight time so she has enough time to digest properly and is full enough for the duration of the flight. However, feeding too much and too close to the flight could cause an upset stomach while in-flight. That said, you should continue to keep your dog well-hydrated and provide water right up until the time of travel. Just be sure to empty the dish before checking the dog. A full water bowl will spill or cause unnecessary messes and excessive urination during flight. Before heading to the airport, be sure to exercise your dog with a long walk and allow her ample time to relieve herself before takeoff. Plenty of exercise will afford your dog the opportunity to burn off excess energy and therefore, rest easier during the flight.
  6. Do Not Sedate Your PupUnder Any Circumstance
    Even the pet owner with the best intentions may think giving their pup something to “take the edge off” is a good idea. Please stand corrected. Under no circumstance is it advised to sedate or tranquilize your pup for air travel. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that sedating pets for air travel can be fatal. Sedation is the most frequent cause of animal incidents during transport as many animals react negatively/abnormally to sedation. Also, not much is known about the side effects of sedatives combined with high altitude and/or higher stress levels.
  7. Stay Calm and Give Your Pup the Comforts of Home
    Remember, your dog feeds off your energy, so if you’re positive and carefree about the flying experience, those feelings will rub off on her and put her more at ease. To give her some extra comfort during the flight, include a familiar toy or blanket with the smells from home inside her carrier. Before she knows it, she’ll have arrived safely at her destination and be reunited with (or meet) her loving owner.

We hope these guidelines will help you feel comfortable and confident flying your pet. In addition, all major airlines offer additional measures to give you that extra peace of mind. For example, United’s PetSafe Program provides the ability to track your pets from origin to destination, and Delta‘s Variation Live Program offers temperature-controlled vans and holding areas as well as specially trained ground handlers for personalized care on the go.


About PuppySpot

Based upon a fundamental belief that finding a puppy online does not have to come with so many x-factors, PuppySpot is a service committed to connecting responsible breeders with caring individuals and families. But, more than just a service, PuppySpot is a community of dog lovers, where dogs are celebrated and where trust, confidence and transparency are paramount. With a screened and vetted network of responsible breeders, PuppySpot makes fetching your new best friend a simple, high quality, enjoyable experience.


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