Can you imagine flying with a dog as a fun experience for both of you? With proper preparation, it’s possible.
That said, it’s often a stressful experience for owners and pups, which is why you should do your research.
Keep in mind that bigger dogs and other pets pose a bit of a challenge. We’ll explain why soon.
Below you’ll find the most relevant information to help you and your furry pal go sky-high in no time.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- How to Travel With a Dog on a Plane
- What You Need to Do Before Flying With Your Pet
- How Much Does It Cost to Take a Dog on a Plane?
- Pet Friendly Airlines
- Dog Baggage Tips
Our Best Tips on How to Travel With a Dog
Before jetting off, here’s what you should know.
First, learn all the airline regulations. They’ll differ depending on whether you’re flying domestic or international.
Most US airlines allow a small pup on board, as long as it’s in a carrier that fits under the seat in front. If your furry buddy is bigger, it’ll have to travel in the cargo hold. The only exception to the rule is support animals, but they’ll need all their paperwork.
Flying With Your Dog in the Cabin
Overall, small dogs are easier since they can fly with you. Well, at least on domestic flights, but it’s a lot of responsibility. Here’s how to fly with a dog in the cabin:
- Take your pup to the vet. It needs to have all vaccinations up to date.
- Get all the paperwork ready — for the vaccines, microchip number, and pet passport.
- Find the right carrier — domestic differs from international. The former requires a crate that fits under the seat in front.
- Although your pet will be with you, mark the carrier to show they’re inside and add your contact details.
Flying With Dogs in the Cargo Hold
It’s usually for bigger doggos or international flights. Let’s have a look at how to fly with a dog as cargo:
- Again, take your pup to the vet. It’ll need vaccines, such as rabies and kennel cough, a dewormer, tick and flea treatments, government paperwork, and possibly a rabies titer test. It varies from country to country, so check all export requirements.
- Your pet’s cage needs to be IATA-approved for its size. You’ll also need a food and water bowl that can attach to the door for easy access.
- Just in case, line the carrier with puppy pads.
- Restrictions to most international destinations will differ. Do your research to make sure you have everything necessary for entry.
Flying With My Dog: Service Animals
Service animals help people with disabilities. Read more about them in our dog facts article.
Recently, regulations changed to take emotional support animals off the approved list for disabilities, meaning these pups can’t fly for free and, if they’re bigger, they’ll need to go in the cargo hold. Call the airline ahead of time to check their regulations.
Flying With a Dog in 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are restrictions for bringing dogs on a plane.
First, there aren’t many international flights at the moment. If you need to relocate, there’s a high chance you’ll have to leave your beloved animals behind. Airlines are doing what they can to fly a backlog of pets to their owners, so you can’t count on any space.
Second, many companies allow carry-on animals but not cargo hold flyers. It’s best to check with the airline before booking. You don’t want to get your plans ruined at the last minute if Buster can’t come along with you.
Before Flying With a Dog
Most of the work happens before the flight. Crate training your pup is very important and will lower anxiety. Take your dog for a good walk before the flight and allow them to do their business. Also, puppy pads come in handy, and some airports even have pet relief stations.
Call the company as many times as you want. Don’t be afraid to ask questions since you’re entrusting them with your furry friend — it’s normal to be anxious. Weather conditions, especially in the heart of winter or summer, will affect whether your pet can fly or not. That’s why you should call at least a month before the date.
How Much Does It Cost to Fly a Dog?
It’s not just the flight that costs money. Vet visits, microchips, and carriers will set you back at least $100, and that’s for a small pup.
Cabin travel for a one-way domestic trip can cost between $50-$250, depending on the airline. Additionally, they may charge you for the extra bag. It’s expensive because of the extra work that goes in. The price depends on the animal’s weight and size, but for a 75-pound dog, it can be anywhere between $200–$400 for a one-way domestic flight.
Flying With a Puppy
As tempting as it is, don’t open the kennel during the flight. Your pup might get a fright and go running down the aisle.
We recommend you pad train your pet for traveling. If it’s your first time flying with it, go over the puppy checklist, and try to be understanding of its whimpers and cries. Ignore the other passengers if they look at you funny.
Dog Baggage Tips
Oh, the dreaded thought of your baggage getting lost. Still, it’s part of traveling.
Now, having your dogs on planes is already stressful. You don’t want to be stuck at your destination with none of your pet things. To avoid this, pack enough food, puppy pads, blankets, and food bowls to last you on the plane for a few days at least.
How Stressful Is Flying for Dogs?
Airports can be scary, so avoid overstimulation by spending less time there and keeping your pup in the carrier.
The actual flight is the most stressful part. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to help. At least cargo holds are temperature and air pressure regulated, so you shouldn’t worry too much about that.
Dogs rely on smell. That’s why adding one of your t-shirts to the kennel could help keep them calm. Also, consider rewarding your pet with a tasty calming treat afterwards.
Pet Friendly Airlines
How to fly with a dog? Pick the right airline. Here are a few of your best options:
Delta Airlines: You can travel with your dog, cat, and birds in the cabin if the carrier meets regulations. All other animals need to travel in the cargo hold. Unfortunately, snub-nosed pups can’t fly with most airlines because of breathing issues. Your dog needs to be ten weeks old for domestic travel and 15 weeks for international.
American Airlines: Your puppy can fly domestic as long as it’s eight weeks old, but it must be at least sixteen weeks old when traveling into the US. Again, snub-nosed cats and dogs aren’t permitted on flights. Bigger animals need to travel in cargo, and they even allow certain primates.
United Airlines: Flying with dogs is fine if they’re at least 16 weeks old and have all the necessary documentation. Be sure to make a reservation for your dog, and head to an airline agent before the flight to receive your bright colored tags for the carriers.
How Hard Is It to Travel With a Dog?
Most owners think that traveling with a pup is near impossible, but it doesn’t have to be.
Preparation is key. Do your research, double or even triple check with the airline that they know you’re traveling with an animal. Research different companies to check their regulations, as that might be the deciding factor. Flying with a dog can be stressful, but your pupper is much more resilient than you think.
Flying with pets can be stressful, especially since you’re entrusting your pup to someone else. You need to weigh the pros and cons of taking your pet on the plane. If they’re generally nervous, it might be best to leave them at home.
So, if you have a social, friendly, and adaptable pup, flying shouldn’t be much of an issue. Be sure to take all the required paperwork with you and get a kennel that meets the regulations.
We hope this article shows you that flying with a dog is not that bad, as long as you come prepared and know how to take care of your furry pal.