Flying with your dog

Are you planning a trip with your dog that involves airplanes?  You’ll need to plan ahead.

  • First, make sure your dog can fly with you:
    • Some airlines will not allow your dog to fly in the summer.  We had to reschedule a backpacking trip on the Appalachian trail so that both flights were in May as at the time, the airline wouldn’t let her fly in June.
    • Some breeds are not allowed on some airlines.  This is usually short nosed dogs during the summer.  Breeds like boxers and pugs may not be allowed to fly when the whether is warm.
    • Check the weather where you are and where you are going.  If it gets too hot or too cold, the airline will not let your dog fly as baggage or cargo because the kennel is outside for a time.
    • If you are going to Hawaii or to a foreign country, check to see if there are quaranteen times.
  • Before you go:
    • Get a vet certificate.  Your pet needs a certificate of health within 30 days of traveling.  You’ll need it both ways and it needs to be within 30 days so plan accordingly!  (If your dog is flying cargo, i.e. without you, it needs to be within 10 days.)
    • Make sure your dog is ok with the kennel, especially if your dog is not kennel trained.
    • Make sure you have a kennel that quailifies for air travel and that it is big enough for your dog.
    • Feed and water your dog within four hours of flying.
    • Get to the airport early!
  • Tips:
    • Book direct flights.  First, the dog spends less time in their kennel.  Two, you’ll suffer a lot less stress.  Some airlines bring you a tag when your dog makes it onto your flight.  (They bring the tag to your seat.)  Some airlines don’t and you have to wonder the whole trip if your dog made it or not.  I once had a really tight connection with no later flight and the airline employee at the gate could not tell me whether my dog was making the flight or not.  It was very frustrating because if my dog didn’t make the flight, I didn’t want to get on it.  The airlines are not allowed to take your dog out of the kennel so while they might get water they won’t get to relieve themselves or get fed!
    • Give your dog plenty of water beforehand.  If you want your dog to have water during the trip, try freezing it so it melts in transit.  I put water in the dish and it spilled as soon as the handlers picked up the kennel.
    • Do not give tranquilizers (even benadryl) unless your vet recommends otherwise.  You want your dog healthy and alert.
    • Take your dog for a long walk the morning of the trip.
    • Don’t put much in the kennel with the dog although you may want a mat or towel to soak up any spills or accidents.
    • Take a leash in your carry-on.
    • Your dog is not supposed to be out of the kennel in the airport.  However, my dog is too heavy for me to carry in the kennel, so I’ve always walked in with her on leash, put the kennel together while in line and then put her in it.  I’ve never had a problem but this is not the way you are supposed to do it.  (My dog is also really well behaved so one time I forgot to stand on the leash as I put together the kennel.  As I put the top on the kennel, she took one look at the kennel and took off running!  She ran out exactly the way we had come in – with me sprinting behind her! – and ran right to where my parents had dropped us off and was obviously looking for their car!  When I got back in the airport, I got lots of help putting the kennel together and checking in!)
    • Write your cell phone number directly on the kennel with a permanent marker.
    • Fly at night in the summer so it’s cooler.

Good luck and have fun with your dog!

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