How to Fly With a Dog: Everything You Need To Know

Planning to fly with your dog? Is it complicated? Well, it might be if you are not well prepared. Unlike traveling with a dog in the car, air travel has many hurdles that might frustrate any dog owner. And with the rise of the pandemic, many airlines have tightened the rules of traveling with a pet.

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How to travel with a dog on an airplane

First, as a responsible dog owner, check whether the airline allows pet traveling. You have to consider the laws of your destination.

So, how do you travel with a dog on an airplane?

Before You Book Your Flight


1. Check Whether Your Dog Is Eligible For Air Travel

Did you know not all dogs are allowed to travel by air? Yes, dogs with short snouts like the French bulldog, Boston terriers, Shih Tzu are prohibited in certain airlines.

It's because of their nasal passage structure, which makes them sensitive to changes in air quality and temperatures in the plane. 

These dog breeds can struggle to breathe during altitude changes.

Various airlines also have their own rules on the age of dogs allowed inside the plane.

For example, Delta allows dogs above 10 weeks old if it's a domestic flight. However, it allows pets over 16 weeks if traveling internationally. This information is always available on the airline's website you intend to use.

2. Talk to the Vet

The vet will be an important person to consult before traveling with a dog on a plane.

So why is the vet important?

The vet will check whether your dog is a good flight candidate. Your dog will be reviewed if he has any underlying condition or injury that might make it difficult to travel.

The vet will help verify your dog's health certificates. According to most airlines, all these certified health certificates should be less than 10 days old.

The vet will check whether your dog has had all his immunization shots.

You can also check on the centers for disease control and prevention (CDC's) website about air travel with your pet. Here, you will learn about the needful pet health certificates.

3. Check the Airline Rules

Every airline has its rules of traveling with a pet locally or internationally. Familiarizing yourself with these rules will be vital.

Check how many dogs are allowed in a plane. Do they allow pets in the cabin area, or do they have to travel in the cargo area?

Has the airport set aside a pet-friendly section? Check if there is an area your dog can potty.

That's the information you should have beforehand to ensure a seamless travel experience with your dog.

4. Check the Rules of Your Destination

Are you traveling to another state? What are the rules of that state regarding pet import?

You need to understand the entry requirement not to be frustrated once you arrive.

You will find certain states will request a recent rabies vaccine certificate.

In some states, your pet might have to be quarantined for 10-14 days. That's the rule in Hawaii since this is a rabies-free state.

Thus you need to figure out whether that might be an inconvenience.

Nevertheless, sites like and are great resources where you can get the information you need about various airlines on traveling with your pet.

However, don't rely on these sites alone. Check on the respective airline you will use before you travel.

5. Book a Ticket

After having the right information, it's time to book your flight. You will most airlines don't permit lots of pets on a plane. So the earlier you book, the better. This way, the airline can reserve a seat for your dog.

While here, you can inquire whether they will take your dog's weight combined with the carrier, or the dog and carrier will be weighted separately.

Most airlines request you pay for your dog's air ticket during your traveling day.

After booking the ticket—

Now that you have reserved a seat on the plane and are sure your pet is allowed to travel, you can go into the next step.

6. Get the Right Pet Carrier

Your dog should be in a crate or kennel while inside a plane. Whether it's a long or short ride, ensure this carrier is spacious for your dog. According to the AKC, this pet carrier should allow your dog to stand, sit, and turn easily.

This carrier should have a leak-proof bottom - That's important as you don't want your dog's pee to disrupt other travelers' comfort.

There should also be good ventilation on the sideways.

Don't buy any air travel pet carrier you find on craigslist or newspaper ADs; you might be frustrated.

Check the airline's specification on the best carrier to use on a plane.

Furthermore, the international air transport association (IATA) has the right information you need to know on the pet carrier's requirements.

Your Dog Should Be Comfortable Staying In a Pet Carrier

This carrier should create a positive feeling for your dog. If you only use a carrier when taking your dog to a vet, he might be scared of getting inside when it's time to travel.

Before you travel, acclimate your furry friend to the carrier.

Let the dog explore the carrier and reward him if he accepts to come close to it. 2- 3 weeks before traveling, use the carrier when traveling to places your dog likes. For example, let your dog be in the carrier when you go to the pet shop to fetch his favorite treats.

You can also use this carrier when taking your dog to a dog park. Your dog will be excited anytime he spots you picking up the carrier.

Important Tips When Using a Carrier during Traveling

  • Label your dog's carrier with your contacts
  • On top of the carrier, ensure you have the words' live animal inside'.
  • Have a clear sign showing the top side-. You never know; you might meet airline staff who are not keen on keeping your dog comfortable and might put the carrier upside down if not well labeled. So, being extra cautious won't cause any harm.
  • Put your dog's familiar items inside- your dog might be anxious with the roaring sounds or sights of other dogs and people. Get your old t-shirt and put it inside to calm your dog's jittery nerves. You can also get your dog's familiar bed and put it inside.
  • Put some new and old toys that will occupy your dog while traveling.
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7. Pack Your Dog's Essentials

Don't forget to pack all your dog's essentials in his traveling bag.

Some of the essential items you should not forget are—

  • Your dog's health certificates- ensure they are certified if that' the rule
  • Medication
  • Portable dog water bottle with an inbuilt bowl- hydrating your dog is vital; thus, when on the traveling yourself with a dog bottle with plenty of water. It will be easy to keep your dog quenched while waiting for the flight. Your dog will stay clear away from the health risks of drinking water from unhygienic sources.
  • Also, have a collapsible dog bowl that won't take lots of space.   This dog travel bowl will be vital if you want to feed your dog once you arrive at your destination. Furthermore, you can use a dog bowl to give your dog water if the inbuilt bowl on your dogs' water bottle is not convenient for the dog.
  • Clear and current photography of your dog- Even though the chances of losing your pet during traveling are minimal, it's good to have a recent picture of your dog. It can be easier to reconnect with your pet if it gets lost.

Traveling day

What's needed so that you and your dog can be happy and stress-free during traveling day?

8. Hydrating and Feeding Your Dog

Feeding your dog right before boarding the plane is not right. That's one way to have a flight candidate with severe tummy issues. Also, a full stomach might exacerbate travel sickness on your dog.

So, what is the right thing to do? Ensure your pet eats four to five hours before boarding the plane. And while at that, don't change your dog's routine diet the day you are traveling. The reason is that a sudden change in diet might cause diarrhea or constipation, making your dog uncomfortable.

Unlike feeding, you can give your dog water 30 minutes before traveling. If you are not comfortable with the airport water, carry some right from home.

9. Plenty of Exercise before Traveling

Ensure you exercise your dog before boarding the plane. However, don't overdo it.

Early in the morning, you can go for walks or play a game of fetch. That way, you will diminish all pent-up energy that can make your dog a nuisance while traveling.

When at the airport, leash your dog and walk him around- however, avoid areas with lots of traffic as your pet might get knocked down.

You will find a tired dog, will tend to sleep, and remain calm during all this traveling.

10. Arrive Early During Your Travel Day.

Be a responsible dog owner and arrive early at the airport. This way, your pet will familiarize himself with the scary surroundings. If you arrive early, you can map the airport well and have enough time to have your dog's documents checked. You will also have enough time to relax as you wait for the next flight.

Arriving late might make you anxious disorganized, which your dog might also pick up and mess up all the traveling.

Important Air Travel Tips with Your Dog

Having Your Dog on the Cabin Or The Cargo Area

Will your dog be carried on the cargo or cabin area?

Dogs under 20 pounds can be carried in the cabin area and won't be a bother. And often this option is always cheap. Your dog will also be less anxious or scared as it can see you.

Cargo area

Large dogs are not allowed in the cabin area. Instead, they have to travel while in the cargo area. The cargo area has a pressurized controlled enrollment with the right temperatures suitable for your dog's health.

However, the charges for carrying your dog in the cargo area are quite high compared to the cabin area.

Avoid Traveling During the Holidays

Traveling during the holidays can be hectic both for you and your dog - during this season, many people and pets are traveling.

Also, the flight attendants might mishandle your dog as they have lots of luggage to handle.

Traveling During Winter? Your Flight Should Be During Midday

Winter weather can be harsh for your furry friend. Ensure your dog is not affected by the cold temperatures by traveling when the temperatures are a bit favorable. The best time is midday.

Your dog won't freeze when in the cargo or cabin area.

Traveling During Summer? Your Flight Should Be Early Morning or Late Evenings

Temperatures will be high during summer. Thus it would be best to prioritize your dog's safety and comfort during such a season.

With that, travel with your pet when the temperatures are low. Do it early in the morning or late evenings.

Choose Your Flight Wisely

Always book a nonstop flight

Having layovers might destabilize you since you have a pet. These layovers might intensify the anxiety or stress your dog has.

Can I Sedate My Dog While Traveling?

Unless under special circumstances, you should not let a vet sedate your dog. Instead, look for other alternatives to calm your hyper dog.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), sedating your dog can increase the risk of heart and breathing problems.

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How Much Is It To Fly A Dog On An Airplane?

Flying a dog on an airplane can be expensive. It's even costly if you intend to use these renowned airlines.

You can be charged between 80 to 125 dollars if traveling between states. And this price is for one way.  If traveling internationally, the price can be higher than what is stated.

You can check on the airline's website you intend to use to confirm how much you will incur to travel.

Can I Take My Dog On A Plane?

Most airlines have made it easy to travel with a pet. Besides the fee you will pay for yourself, you will need to pay an extra fee to cater to your dog's travel expenses. However, be aware that air travel has lots of risks. Many pets have been maimed, lost, or killed while inside a plane. So, always weigh out whether the benefits of traveling with your dog outweigh the risks.

Is Flying Stressful For a Dog

Dogs who have traveled by air can be stressed. It can also be worse for those dogs who hate loud noise or enclosed space.

If you have such a dog, ensure you first deal with your dog's anxiety. Let your dog be comfortable staying in the crate. If traveling for long by plane, you can first have short flight sessions and watch your dog's reaction.

Final Thoughts

Flying with your pet is convenient; however, it poses many challenges. If there is no alternative, follow the above 10 tips for a seamless travel experience.

However, if it seems dangerous and stressful to fly with a dog, choose other means of transport.

If possible, leave your dog at home under the care of a pet sitter or trusted person— unlike traveling with your dog on a plane where safety and Comfortability for your pet are less of a guarantee.

The Family Pooch Portable Water Bottle products are the easiest way to keep your pup hydrated while traveling in a car, on a plane, or doing a hike!

Our collapsible feeding and water bowls are extremely convenient and easily transportable!  Perfect for air travel and any travel where packing is an issue.

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