Flying With Your Dog

Flying With Your Dog

Bringing your canine companion along for a flight isn’t as strange as it used to be. Nowadays, it’s as normal as bringing a baby on board. Except with your dog might have a higher approval rating among your fellow passengers. Even though flying with your furry friend has become a regular occurrence, it doesn’t mean it’s something you can just wing. From booking the flight to departing from the ground – here is what you need to know.

Research, Research, Research

Research and planning will be your best friends during this process. It might be a pain and hassles at first, but you and your dog will thank you later if you take the time to do so. First, you’ll want to look for non-stop flights if possible and try to avoid flying when airports and airlines are busier than usual (as in during the holidays). Following through on both of those will make your flight significantly less stressful for both you and your pup. It’ll also help decrease the chances of something going wrong.

If Fido has to fly in cargo, then the time of day and year are also important. If you’re leaving a warm-weather destination, try to book a flight early in the morning or late at night to help keep things cool. In departing locations that have a colder climate, try to leave in the middle of the day when it’ll be the warmest.

Call the Airline Beforehand

When flying with your canine, booking online isn’t usually an option. A majority of the airlines out their only reserve a few dogs per flight. Therefore, it’s vital that you call ahead and make sure the plane has space for you and your furry friend. This is especially important before making any final bookings. You should also know that airlines can charge you anywhere between $100-$500 each way for a pet on board. But each airline carries a different policy. So depending on your budget, this is a crucial detail to look into ahead of time. Here are the pet policy pages for American, Delta, JetBlue, United, Southwest, and Alaska Airways.

Get the “OK” From Fido’s Vet

Once you have secured both you and Fido’s tickets, it’s time to set up a vet appointment. You’ll need to make sure you leave with a health certificate stating your pup is healthy enough to fly as well as that they’re up to date on their immunizations. But keep in mind, this certificate is only good for 30 days, and you’ll need it for both your departure and return flight. So if you’re planning a trip that will be over a month, then you’ll need to anticipate getting a second vet visit done while on vacation.

While you’re at the vet, that’s also a perfect time to ask about a feeding schedule for the day-of take off. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs should fly on an empty or nearly empty stomach.

Your Choice in Crate is Important

Typically the rule is that if your pup’s crate can fit under the seat in front of you, then you can bring them on board. But the carrier needs to be large enough for your pooch to be able to not only stand up but also move around. Usually, if the crate is larger than 19″ by 10″ by 12″, then your dog will have to fly in the hold. If this is the case, then you should check your furry friend in as late as possible. This will help eliminate the time they have to wait in the terminal.

You can also find a list of pet carrier requirements made by the International Air Transportation Association that most airlines tend to follow.

Prepping Your Dog for Flying

No matter how worried you are about how your dog will react to flying, you should not sedate them. Sedatives during air travel can increase the risk of heart or respiratory issues typically caused by changing altitudes and atmospheric pressures. It’s also essential to familiarize your canine with their crate or carrier before take off. This is especially important if you bought a new one for the trip. Let them explore the space and put them in there for a few hours at a time. This will allow them to adjust to being complacent for more extended periods.

Steps to Follow When You Get to the Airport

When it’s finally the day of travel here steps that you should follow at the airport:

  • When you check-in, have your dog’s health certificate ready. It’ll be the first thing that the desk agent asks for
  • At that time, the desk agent will also determine and inform you about whether your pup can come on board or if they’ll have to be checked into the cargo hold.

If it’s determined that your dog & their crate are small enough to board with you:

  1. Next, you’ll head to security.
  2. Once at security, deal with your shoes, laptop, etc. before tending to your pup
  3. Then remove your dog from their kennel and carry them through security while their crate goes through the X-ray.
  4. Removing your pet’s collar and letting that run through the machine with your other things can also help speed things along.

If it’s determined that your dog will have to be checked into the cargo hold:

  1. Make sure you attach a current photo of your pup to their crate, as well as a small bag of food so the airline personnel can feed them if there ends up being a long delay.
  2. Make sure you also have a current photo of your dog on you or your phone. It’ll make it easier to identify your pup in case the airline “misplaces” your dog (which is highly unlikely but you should always come prepared)

The process of flying with your canine companion is undoubtedly not a simple one. But as soon as you both make it safely to your destination and are reunited, it’ll all be worth it.

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