Air Travel

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 Transportation Comments
Air Travel

FAA regulations require a dog, that is not a service dog, be restrained in a carrier underneath the seat in front of you.  If you are planning to travel with a large dog, you’ll have to crate your dog and pay cargo fare for him to fly with the luggage.  Make sure to follow the regulations and requirements of the airline.  There are some airlines with a far better process for transporting pets in cargo than others.  To help a dog prepare for the plane’s movements, drive him around the neighborhood while he is in his crate.  You can drive over some bumps and irregular pavement to get your dog used to different movements and sounds.  Practice this a few times over the course of a few weeks prior to your trip.

  • Check with your airline well in advance.  Each airline has their own specific rules and regulations.  Follow them precisely.
  • Try to book a direct flight whenever possible, this will be less stressful for your dog than taking off and landing and making transfers.
  • Purchase a crate that is large enough.  Your dog needs to be able to stand comfortably without his head touching the top of the crate and be able to turn completely around without his sides touching the sides of the crate.  This is accepted practice in the airline industry but always check with your carrier for any discrepancies.
  • The crate must be an approved airline crate.
  • Make sure you let your airline know the size of your dog carrier, often they only have enough space for certain sizes per flight and they may not let you fly if you get to the airport and your carrier is too big to fit underneath.
  • Put a towel on the bottom of the crate
  • Attach a small metal food and water bowl to the side of the crate – check with your airline for specific directions.
  • Use the right fixtures for your crate – some airlines require metal and some require plastic.
  • Crate train your dog prior to travel: place your dog in the carrier for a few seconds or minutes at first and then build up over time to several hours
  • Practice feeding him inside the crate to get him comfortable with the surrounding.
  • Go to a pet store, or another pet friendly location, with your dog in the carrier to prepare your dog.  Don’t assume your dog will be the only one in the airport, get them used to being in the carrier around other dogs, such as service dogs, who are outside on leashes.
  • If your pet is upset by loud noises you may try and get them more used to noises by traveling with them on a train or bus.
  • Don’t take your dog if they’re aggressive.  It can take months for a dog to be non-reactive in tight quarters so please contact a behaviorist and plan ahead.
  • Visit you vet and get a checkup before travel.  Airlines will require certain paperwork that includes a health check, vaccinations records, etc.
  • Airlines don’t allow a dog to be sedated or tranquilized during the flights, as it can affect their respiration.  Medication can be administered after the flight if your dog is still stressed.
  • Try out all medications BEFORE a trip to make sure your dog does not have any adverse reactions.
  • Be mindful of when you’re feeding your dog, if they may get motion sickness during the flight consider holding off on feeding until you land.
  • Always allow extra time before departing for the airport to let your dog go to the bathroom and drink water.
  • Make sure your dog gets the chance to go to the bathroom right before and after the flight.
  • Buy sanitizing wipes in case your dog has an accident during the flight so you can clean it up right when you land.
  • Bring extra food and water – you may want to consider shipping a bag of food to your destination because it can be expensive to include food in your luggage.
  • If there’s an alternative way to travel, consider it – air travel is very stressful for dogs and it may be a better alternative to leave them at home with a petsitter.
  • Prepare for the weather on both ends of travel – if it is cooler where you’re landing, consider bringing a sweater, a blanket or booties or bring a cooling mat for warmer locations.



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