Unlike in the past, airlines are no longer just getting more people onto flights. They are also taking in dogs. The thought of flying with your dog may sound great, but it is a lot more complicated and expensive than flying solo.

If you are flying with your dog for the first time, you want to keep it safe and happy without making others uncomfortable. 

 The recent death of Kokito, the French bulldog, has worried many pet parents. The dog died on a flight from Houston to New York City. Because of the airline’s regulations, it had to travel in an overhead bin.

Understanding the regulations of your plane could help you avoid such unfortunate instances. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when flying with your dog. 

Carry-On or Cargo?

The size of your dog will determine where it’ll spend the flight. It may also help you determine if it is safe to bring it with you. Although every airline has unique rules, there are a few general rules.

Usually, your dog can only fly as a carry-on if it can fit in a carrier under the seat in front of yours. If it is bigger, it has to travel in the cargo hold. Most airlines call this ‘shipping’ your pet. 

 Traveling in the cargo hold can be uncomfortable even though airlines say they try to make dogs as comfortable as possible. Being separated from you can make your pet uneasy. 

However, hundreds of dogs travel in cargo every year without any significant incidents. Think about the size of your dog and determine if you are making the right decision. 

Pick Your Flight Carefully

If possible, choose non-stop flights and avoid transfers. Don’t travel during the holidays or when airports are likely to have more activity than usual. This way, you can make the flight less stressful and reduce the risk of anything going wrong. 

If your dog is large and has to fly in cargo, be considerate of the weather at your destination. If your destination is warm, consider using a late night or an early morning flight. This way, the temperatures will be bearable when you get there. If the temperatures are too cold or too hot, airlines may deem it unsafe for your pet to fly. 

Contact Your Airline

Most airlines can only allow a few dogs for every flight. Get in touch with them to find out if they have space for you before booking a flight. When making reservations for yourself, make reservations for your pet at the same time. 

Use An Appropriate Carrier

You’ll need to bring a crate or carrier regardless of where your pet will spend the flight. The International Air Transport Association has specific guidelines for airlines to follow. Pet carriers have to meet certain requirements. 

First, your carrier has to be strong and well-ventilated. It should have a leak-proof bottom and strong handles. The carrier must be clearly marked as ‘Live Animal’ with arrows showing which way is up. There should be a label with your name, contact information, and destination. 

Prep Your Dog

Get your dog ready for the flight. Speak with a vet about the medication, food, and water requirements before the flight. Experts have different opinions about tranquilizing or sedating your pet before a flight. Make a decision that suits the specific needs of your pet. Some CBD oil helps ease anxiety and keep your dog happy during the flight. 

Understand that sedation may have a few health risks and that some airlines prohibit it unless you have a vet’s note. Get your dog familiar with its carrier or crate ahead of the trip. If possible, take a trip around the airport’s departure area so they can become comfortable with it. 

Consider the Cost

The cost of traveling with your pet is higher than flying solo. The typical pay for your pet is about $125 every way. However, it varies by airline. When shipping your dog in the cargo hold, the cost depends on the weight of your dog and how far you’ll be flying. 

Consider Your Destination

When traveling between states or internationally, you’d be wise to think about your destination. Look into the local animal importation guidelines to avoid getting into legal trouble. 

Many destinations have long and complicated quarantine periods and processes. Depending on where you want to go, you and your dog may be separated for most of your trip. In some destinations, pets can’t fly in the cabin, no matter how small they may be. 

Get a Health Check for Your Dog

After getting a ticket for your dog, visit a vet and get a health certificate as soon as possible. It should state that your dog is up to date with its immunizations and healthy enough to travel. Note that your certificate will only remain valid for about 30 days. You’ll need it for return and not just departure. All airlines have different regulations regarding health checks. 

Take the Right Steps at the Airport

Get to the airport as early as you can to avoid feeling rushed. If your dog will be flying cargo, you are typically required to arrive about five hours before your departure time for international flights and three hours earlier for domestic flights. 

If the dog is small enough to fly as a carry-on, an agent will review your paperwork at the passenger check-in desk. After clearing everything and paying the pet carry-on fee, you can head over to security. 

When checking the dog, attach its current photo and a little bag of food to the carrier. This way, airline personnel can feed it if necessary. 

Bringing your dog on your next flight is a significant decision. Think long and hard about it to ensure that you are making the right decision. Generally, it would be best if you only did it when necessary. If you choose to travel with your dog by plane, preparation is essential. Flying is stressful, and you should strive to make your little friend as comfortable as possible.


About the Author: Rupert Jones is a financial independence geek who strongly believes in the power of networking. He spends his time helping people leverage secrets of financial wealth and process to achieve financial freedom. He recently became a first-time pet parent and now is a proud owner of a ginger cat named Pumpkin.