16 Tips For Flying With Your Dog
As we reach the peak of summertime, many families take time to travel around the world and explore something new. While most families find temporary care for their furry friends, some bring their pals along for the adventure. Wherever my dad goes, he takes our French Bulldog Spielman. This has included trips from a flight to Las Vegas to a day on the boat in Miami. However, with recent news tragedies involving dogs on flights, my dad has become weary of where he flies with our beloved pet. While I am not protesting the idea of traveling with your dog, I advise caution to the situation. If you decide to take your loved one with you, consider the following in your travels!
1. Evaluate Your Dog’s Temperament
Some dogs get stressed very easily. For example, my boyfriend and I have a ten-year old Schnauzer named Shadow whom we love him dearly but requires tons of attention. His separation anxiety has become too intense to make him a good candidate for flying because unless we are constantly holding him, he continues to shake. If your dog has a tendency to get stressed out easily, consider alternatives to flying.
2. Research Your Pup’s Breed
Some breeds handle fling better than others. While some have the capability to be stored in cargo, this is not feasible for all. Pugs for example, a breed with short-noses, are likely to experience breathing issues in high altitudes. Therefore, vets recommend not taking pugs on flights.
3. Call the Airline in Advance
It only takes a few minutes, but this step is important! Complications while travelling are already hard enough, your pet does not need trouble too. Sometimes, airlines require booking space ahead of time, so make sure your pet has a spot on your flight well in advance of your travel dates.
4. Budget Extra Time at the Airport
Consider travelling with your dog like travelling with a child. You are now responsible for not one, but two! A dog won’t be able to complete check-in or security by themselves, so this may take you some extra time. To ensure a smooth travel day, account for the extra time.
5. Have Appropriate Documentation
Many states require health certificates for your pet when bringing it in from another state or if you are travelling with a service dog or Emotional Support Animal (read more about ESA’s here), you will need to have documentation to verify their certifications. Without these papers, you may not be allowed to travel with your pet. Double check to ensure you have the appropriate documentation for your pet packed and easily accessible before you head to the airport to avoid any issues.
6. Account for Extra Expenses
We all know that airlines will do everything in their power to charge an arm and a leg. While you are already paying for your own ticket and luggage, you must also account for pet carrying fees. Most airlines average at about $125 to bring your pet aboard. Sometimes this is more expensive than your own ticket!
7. Proper ID
If you make sure to put your name and address on your luggage, why wouldn’t you do the same for your beloved pet? Securely attach tags to your pet’s carrier or crate and make sure he or she is wearing their collar and ID tag. Also, if you haven’t done so already, have your pet microchipped. It’s possible for pets to slip out of their collars and sometimes a microchip is the only way for a third party to identify and return your furry loved one to you.
8. Pack ALL the Necessities
One of the simplest mistakes to be made when traveling is to forget a necessity at home. While you can always manage to find something in the airport for your needs, your animals’ needs may not be so simple to find. Double check for food, a water dish and any item your pet uses daily. Keeping these in your carry on will make layovers significantly easier!
9. Comfort! Comfort! Comfort!
If you are anything like me, days in the airport usually include a long sweater and leggings. I don’t dress to impress; I dress to sit in an aircraft for a few hours. Since most of us strive for comfort, don’t think your pooch is any different! A comfortable animal carrier can make a world of a difference. The more comfortable your pet feels, the better the day goes for you.
10. Tire Your Pup Out Before the Flight
By taking your dog on a long walk before leaving to the airport, your dog will most likely want to sleep for the remainder of traveling. A sleeping pup is a happy pup! As an added bonus, the long walk will ensure your dog gets the proper amount of exercise for the day!
11. Only Use Sedatives if Necessary
While it may seem like a good idea to give your pet a little medicated stress relief for the flight, the use of sedatives on a plane can be dangerous for animals. Sedatives can reduce a pet’s heart rate, impact body temperature regulation, and reduce their respiratory rate. These can be life threatening, so only use sedatives if absolutely necessary.
12. Combat Motion Sickness and Accidents
The airline may provide you with a barf bag, but this won’t help your dog. Turbulence is unavoidable on airlines and may cause motion sickness. Try your best to not feed your pet the day of your flight. Doing this will reduce the odds they’ll need to go number 2 and help avoid accidental sickness on the flight!
13. Give Water Sparingly
Similar to taking away food, water should be given with caution. Long travels may lead to dehydration, so cutting out water completely is not a good idea. However, by limiting the amount of water intake, your pup is less likely to have an accident.
14. Use Potty Pads
No matter how well-trained your dog is or how careful you are with food and water intake before the flight, there is a chance they may have to relieve themselves on the flight. By lining the bottom of your animal carrier with Potty Pads, you are less likely to have a mess to clean up. Many pads also include an odor-eliminating agent to prevent a smell.
15. Be Aware of People
Within an average airport, multiple terminals include multiple airlines running multiple flights on multiple runways. This adds up to a high population of people in a contained area. Keep in mind how busy airports are when traveling with your pet and do your best to keep them in calmer areas of the airport to reduce their stress levels.
16. Use Common Sense
We’ve all heard the horror stories of pets dying on planes. If the weather is too hot or too cold and your pup will be traveling in cargo, rethink taking them on your trip. If a flight attendant asks you to put your pup in an overhead bin or another location of the plane that you don’t feel is safe, say no. You are your dog’s only advocate, so use common sense to keep them safe when traveling by plane and don’t be afraid to stand up for them when something seems wrong. Additionally, when in doubt, hire a pet sitter to keep them safe at home.
To travel with your pet or keep them at home, the choice is yours. In the end, consider all the factors that come into play when catching that fight. Most importantly, if you decide to fly with your pet, enjoy the journey and exploration that is to come!