Air travel is different for every dog, breed, and owner. Knowing how to prepare for your next trip and what to look for in an airline will be key in having a safe and successful journey. Follow these tips and share your own experiences below to help fellow dog owners and jet-setters have a great flying experience.
Consult Your Vet Before Traveling
Not all dog breeds travel well or can handle the stress and air pressure changes when flying. Dog breeds with short noses or snub-noses, also called brachycephalic breeds, struggle on airplanes. Their shorter snouts account for common respiratory problems, compared to other breeds with longer snouts. Because of this abnormality, it is important to take precautionary measures before flying on an airplane. If you have a brachycephalic breed dog, such as a Pug, Boxer, Boston Terrier, Shih tzu, or Bulldog, consult your vet before a trip. Be sure to discuss how your pup will handle flying based on his or her breed, age, and overall health.
Know Your Airline
For a nice extra fee, you can choose to have your dog fly with you. If your dog is small enough, they may even be allowed in the cabin. Whiles airlines will post size restrictions of dogs and carriers online, the most important thing for you to do as a responsible dog owner before purchasing a plane ticket is additional research. Check to see if an airline is specific about carrier model and make, then call the airline directly to confirm.
Airlines may say they are dog friendly and will take care of your pup, but use intuition and a strong network of fellow dog-owners to verify this. Chances are if you own a dog, you likely have a lot of friends with dogs, too. Plan a dog walking date or dog-friendly gathering to discuss the best flying options and best experiences everyone has had. If nothing comes of that, get in touch with airlines on the phone and ask them what the flight will be like. Know the airline and exactly what the experience will be like before selecting your flight – your dog will thank you.
Back in 2011, United and other airlines actually banned brachycephalic breeds from flying with them for a short period of time. Airlines are constantly changing their breed, dog weight, and carrier policies. Stay in tune with the latest changes. If you plan on venturing abroad, check out these tips on Traveling Through Europe with Your Dog.
Use A Proper ID
When you travel, you often have to juggle many things at once. From checking your bag at the gate, to going through security, and handling luggage as you wait – there is a lot for you and your dog to be distracted by. If you dog is flying with you in the cabin, and will be with you at the airport the whole time, make sure he or she is properly tagged and has a collar with an ID. Dogs are required to go through security at the airport, either in their owner’s arms or walking through the checkpoint on a leash. For large dogs, make sure to use a harness and a short lead, as this will allow for more control. In this new and exciting environment, keep your dog close at all times. Not only will you be terrified if your dog is lost in the airport, your dog will definitely be frightened by the intimidating environment, too.
Bring the Right Accessories
If your dog is flying in the cabin with you, make sure that he or she will be comfortable in their mode of transportation. Brining favorite toys is a good idea for added comfort. However, be careful with items like a favorite blanket or plush stuffed animal. If toys are too big, they could add extra stress and anxiety to your dog in their carrier, since the space is pretty small. Refrain from too many toys and comfort items, as you want your dog to be able to move around without fear of suffocation.
Traveling with your dog is a great adventure and bonding experience. Plan and research ahead of time to allow for a safe, fun, and dog-friendly trip. If you’re staying in a hotel while traveling, read more about How to Keep Your Dog Comfortable in Hotels.