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Is It Safe for Dogs to Fly? Concerns & FAQ Solved

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog in airport carrier

Is It Safe for Dogs to Fly? Concerns & FAQ Solved

VET APPROVED

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REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Yes, dogs can fly but you have to take into consideration a lot of facts. Flying with your dog can be a scary experience, but it doesn’t have to be! In this blog post, we will answer all of your questions about flying with dogs and provide you with all the information you need to make sure your pet has a safe and comfortable trip. We’ll cover everything from what kind of documentation is needed to what type of carrier is best for air travel. So, whether you’re planning on taking your dog on vacation or moving across the country, read on for tips that will help make air travel with your furry friend a breeze!

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Health Concerns for Dogs While Flying

While flying is generally safe for dogs, there are a few health concerns you should be aware of. One of the most common problems is motion sickness. Dogs who are prone to car sickness may also experience nausea and vomiting while in the air. To help prevent this, feed your dog a light meal a few hours before the flight and make sure they have water to drink. It’s also important to avoid giving your dog any sedatives or tranquilizers as these can increase the risk of respiratory problems. If your dog does become sick during the flight, don’t worry! There are many products on the market that can help ease their symptoms.

For more serious health concerns such as dogs with known heart or breathing difficulties consult with your veterinarian before planning to fly with them. Most airlines will not accept snub nosed- brachycephalic- breeds due to the increased risk of health problems while flying.

dachshund dog in pet carrier
Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

What Do I Need to Fly with My Dog?

1. Documentation

The first step in flying with your dog is to make sure you have all the necessary documentation. For domestic flights, you will need a recent health certificate from your veterinarian. This document must be dated within ten days of your flight and should state that your pet is healthy and fit to travel. You will also need to provide proof of rabies vaccination if your dog is over four months old. If you’re traveling internationally with your dog, you’ll need to check with the consulate of the country you’re visiting to find out what vaccinations are required. There will likely be other blood tests and requirements for international travel which will need to be complied with in advance. In addition to these documents, it’s always a good idea to bring along copies of your pet’s medical records in case of an emergency.


2. Carriers

Now that you have all the required paperwork, you’ll also need an appropriate carrier. When it comes to choosing a carrier for your dog, there are a few things you’ll need to take into consideration. First, make sure the carrier is large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around comfortably. It should also have adequate ventilation and be made from a sturdy material such as metal or hard plastic. You’ll also want to consider whether you want a soft-sided or hard-sided carrier. Soft-sided carriers are often more comfortable for dogs and easier to store, but they may not provide as much protection in the event of turbulence. Hard-sided carriers, on the other hand, are sturdier but can be difficult to fit in small spaces. The carrier will need to be approved by the airline you are traveling with, so check their requirements.

dog in a carrier
Image Credit: Tomasz_Mikolajczyk, Pixabay

3. Packing

Once you’ve chosen the perfect carrier, it’s time to start packing! You’ll want to include all the essentials such as food, water, toys, and a blanket. It’s also a good idea to pack any medications your dog is taking and copies of their medical records. If you’re traveling with a small dog, you may be able to bring them in the cabin with you. However, if your pet is too large to fly in the cabin, they will need to travel in the cargo hold. Be sure to check with your airline for their policies on traveling with pets before booking your flight.

FAQs About Flying with Your Dog and Safety

What are the rules for flying with a dog?

The rules for flying with a dog will vary depending on the airline you’re using, so it’s important to check with them in advance. Most airlines will allow you to fly with your dog as long as they are in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you or in the cargo hold. You will usually need to pay a pet fee, and your dog will need to be up to date on all their vaccinations. Some airlines also have breed restrictions, so it’s important to check with the airline before booking your flight.

cute dog in a carrier
Image Credit: Susan Schmitz, Shutterstock

Will the airline treat my dog roughly, like luggage?

The airline will not treat your dog roughly, like luggage. All pets are required to travel in a carrier that is placed either in the cargo hold or under the seat in front of you. The carrier must be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in, and it must have adequate ventilation. You should also label the carrier with your contact information.

What if my dog needs medication during the flight?

If your dog needs medication during the flight, you will need to contact the airline in advance to make arrangements. You will need to provide a letter from your vet stating that your pet is healthy enough to travel and that they are up to date on all their vaccinations. You will also need to bring enough of the medication with you to last the entire trip, as well as any syringes or pumps required for administration. Once you’re at the airport, make sure to tell the staff at check-in that your pet has medication so they can make a note of it. Don’t wait until the plane is in the air. Ask as soon as you board.

Dog In Airplane Carrier
Image Credit: Cameron Cross, Shutterstock

Is the cargo hold a dark and scary place for my dog?

The cargo hold is not a dark and scary place for your dog. In fact, it is pressurized, and temperature-controlled to make sure your pet has a safe and comfortable flight. However, if you are worried about your pet being in the cargo hold, there are a few steps you can take to ease your mind. First, choose an airline that allows you to track your pet’s location during the flight. Many airlines now offer this service so you can see exactly where your pet is at all times. You can also request a non-stop flight or one with a short layover to minimize the time your dog spends in the cargo hold. Finally, try to fly during cooler months as the cargo hold can get very hot during summer flights.

Will anyone check on my dog during the flight?

The airline staff will not check on your dog during the flight as they are not allowed in the cargo hold. However, you can request that a member of the cabin crew check on your pet during the flight but this is not always possible. If you’re concerned about your pet being in the cargo hold, make sure to choose an airline that offers tracking so you can see exactly where they are at all times.

Where will my dog go to the bathroom during the flight?

Your dog will not be able to go to the bathroom during the flight as they will be in a carrier for the duration of the trip. If you’re worried about your pet having an accident, make sure to take them out for a potty break before boarding and choose a carrier that has absorbent bedding. It’s also a good idea to feed your dog a light meal a few hours before the flight so they don’t have to go to the bathroom as often.

Dog traveling by airplane. Box with live animals at the airport
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

What should I do if my dog is lost or injured while flying?

If something happens to your dog while you’re flying, it’s important to remain calm and contact a member of the cabin crew immediately. They will be able to help you with any medical needs your pet may have and will also be able to contact the airline’s pet desk for assistance. The airline’s pet desk will then help you make any necessary arrangements, such as finding a vet or arranging for ground transportation. In most cases, airlines are required to provide financial compensation if your pet is injured or dies while in their care.

Where do I pick up my dog when I land?

You will need to pick up your dog from the cargo hold after the plane has landed and all the passengers have disembarked. You will need to show your ID and boarding pass to the staff, and they will bring your pet out to you. In some cases, you may be able to request that a member of the cabin crew bring your pet to you at the gate, but this is not always possible.

labradoodle dog and woman owner at the park
Image Credit: Lopolo, Shutterstock

Can I take my service dog with me on the plane?

Yes, you can take your service dog with you on the plane. Most airlines will allow you to bring your service dog in the cabin with you as long as they have all the necessary documentation. This includes a letter from your doctor outlining your need for a service animal, proof of vaccinations, and proof of training. Be sure to check with your airline before booking your flight to make sure they allow service animals onboard.

Final Thoughts

Flying with a dog can be a stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these tips and doing your research well in advance, you can make sure that both you and your furry friend have a safe and enjoyable flight. Bon voyage!

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Featured Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

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