Is flying with a pet making you nervous? Here are 9 tips from pet owners and experienced travelers to help you and your pet have a safe and enjoyable flight.

Dog sniffing papers.

Flying With A Pet Doesn’t Have To Be Scary

If you’re faced with flying with a pet, chances are you feel scared. Arranging your pet’s reservation and getting all the required documents can be nerve-wracking. And then there are the concerns for your pet’s safety during the flight, including an airline’s requirements. Perhaps you’ve even considered driving to your destination instead. But if time is a factor, or you’re relocating to another part of the world, flying may be your only option.

If that’s the case, keep in mind that millions of animals fly each year in the United States alone. We hear about the tragedies and mishaps in the media, but the vast majority of pets in cargo arrive safely. Part of safe flying with a pet starts with you. Be sure to research the airline and talk to staff before and during your flight to help calm your fears. And, by following the tips below, you will feel more prepared for your flight so you can both fly with a bit less stress.

Live Animals sticker on a plastic kennel on the tarmac at an airport

Tips for Flying With A Pet Safely

1. Talk to Your Vet

The first step when flying with a pet is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. You want to ensure that your pet is in good health to fly. If you get the go-ahead from your vet to travel, make a second appointment close to your date of departure. Then check with the airline and state veterinarian at your destination to determine what documentation you’ll need. It’s not unusual for airlines to have pet fees or require health certificates issued within 10 days of your flight.

Dog on airport floor with feet.

2. Make Sure Your Pet’s Breed Isn’t Restricted

More than ever, airlines are putting breed restrictions on dog and cat breeds, namely Brachycephalic or “short-nosed” breeds like Boston terriers, boxers, and bulldogs, among several others. Some airlines will allow you to fly with your short-nosed pet in a cabin, provided they fit within the size and weight guidelines, but always check in with your airline beforehand.

READ MORE ⇒  US Airline Pet Polices

airlines recommend arriving early then your dog can get use to the airport

3. Book in Advance

Airlines allow a limited number of pets per flight, so book early to ensure you get your desired flight. Especially when you fly with your pet in cargo or internationally, be sure to make your reservations well in advance because the requirements can take months to prepare.

4. Acclimate Your Pet to the Kennel

Purchase your pet travel carrier well in advance and start getting your pet used to being in the space. Similar to crate training, your goal is for your pet to think of the kennel as a den – a safe, comfortable place they like hanging out.

To help your pet develop a positive association with the kennel during air travel, feed her in it for several weeks leading up to your flight. Put her bed and a few favorite toys inside to show her that it is her space to play, sleep, and retreat.

9 Tips for Flying with a Pet |

For the flight, line the kennel with a dog travel bed and top it with puppy pads, just in case of an accident during the flight.

9 Tips for Flying with a Pet |

5. Don’t Give Your Pet a Sedative

Tranquilizers are not recommended for pets during flight as they can interfere with a dog’s ability to control body heat at high altitudes. If you’re concerned your pet may be anxious, consider CBD oil or treats (be sure to check regulations about flying with CBD oil), calming drops, or a vest designed to calm your pet.


6. Ask to Board Early

Flying with a pet may make you eligible for early boarding on most airlines – just ask one of the airline employees. Getting yourself and your pet situated before your flight can take some time, and having a few extra minutes can help you both remain calm, so arrive early.

READ MORE ⇒  Flying With Your Cat For the First Time

7. Keep Your Pet’s Health Documents Handy

Each airline sets its own requirements for pets flying in the cabin and in cargo. Determine which documents your airline requires and keep them handy so that when you’re asked by various staff members, you can easily provide them.


8. Seek out the Pet Relief Areas Before You Fly

Most airports are now required to offer pet relief areas. Before your flight, map out the closest one to your terminal for efficient pet potty breaks during layovers. To help locate pet relief areas, Alaska Airlines put together this comprehensive list in airports they service or ask the staff at the airline gate.

Keep in mind that your pet may not want to go since the locations are often indoors and on astroturf. Have a puppy pad handy in case your pet decides to eliminate somewhere outside of the pet relief area.


9. Bring a Chew Toy for Take Off and Landing

Like humans, pressure will build up in your pet’s ears during take off and landing. You may notice your pet batting at her ears or shaking her head frequently. Give her a chew toy or hard, chewy treats to help them relieve any discomfort.

Follow these tips, and you and your pet can have a safe, comfortable flight.

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Category: Travel Tips / Tagged with: Flying With Pets