If you are planning on taking a vacation that requires flying with your dog, think twice about taking him. Traveling by air with your dog should only be contemplated if absolutely necessary and you’ll be going away for an extended period of time or you are re-locating. Air travel is extremely stressful on dogs and the conditions they must fly in are by no means comfortable. Unless your dog is small enough to fly in the cabin with you, he will be happier and safer if you leave him at home.
Air Travel is Dangerous
Every year hundreds of animals are injured, lost or even killed while in transit on commercial passenger airlines. Animals are subjected to excessive hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, low oxygen and rough handling.
Most Dogs Travel as Cargo
If you have a small or miniature dog and the carrier you will be taking your dog in is no larger than a piece of carry-on luggage (approximately 10” x 15” x 20” and less than 40 lbs), you may be okay as you can bring her on board, in the cabin with you. You must be able to stow the carrier under your seat. You will not be allowed to take your dog out of the carrier. Any dog larger than that is going to have to travel in Cargo. This will not a comfortable trip for your pet.
Cargo is stored under the plane and is not temperature controlled, which means depending on the time of year, your dog will be subjected to extreme heat or cold. Your dog will need to be in a crate or kennel for the duration of the trip. This is where crate training comes in handy. See our pages on Crate Training in the Training Section of the website.
Flight Times are Restricted
Airlines will not carry pets in cargo at certain times of the year. In winter, the cargo area of the plane can fall well below freezing. If the ground temperature is below a certain point (for example 45° F or 7°C, each airline is different – consult with your individual airline’s regulations) at any location the plane stops, they will not take your pet. Same thing with summer and high temperatures.
No Drugs While Flying
Do not sedate or tranquilize your dog before flying with him. Many breeds with short nasal passages such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Pekingese can have respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Changes in altitude and air pressure can compound the issue.
Quarantine on Pets
Some countries and areas quarantine animals, therefore not making it worth the trouble of taking your dog with you. The state of Hawaii has a 120-day quarantine in effect for animals brought to the islands, although in certain conditions it can be reduced.
Consult with the airline you are planning on traveling with to find out full details and the requirements on taking your pet with you.
Flying with an Older Dog
You should definitely not contemplate air travel with an older dog. Absolutely not for vacation. If you must relocate and you can’t get to your new location any other way than by flying, don’t take him. Aside from the stress of flying, the conditions dogs must fly in could potentially kill your older dog. The kindest thing you can do for your older dog is to find a family member or friend who would be willing to look after your dog while you’re gone.
Leave Fido at Home if You’re Flying
Traveling on a plane is not a pleasant experience and can be dangerous for your pet. The conditions that most dogs have to travel in and the stress it causes them is not worth having your dog with you while on vacation. Also, every year air travel results in the loss of many pets. Think of how many bags they lose all the time, they lose pets too. Air travel has also caused the deaths of many others.
The best advice is to leave your dog at home. Don’t feel bad about leaving your pet behind to go on vacation. He’ll be happier, healthier and safer if you do. Of course there are times when long distance travel with your dog is unavoidable due to relocation or extended stays away from your current home. The Humane Society has many helpful tips if you are unable to avoid traveling by plane with your dog: Humane Society Travel Tips
What You Will Need for Your Dog:
If despite everything, you decide that you must fly with your dog, here is a checklist of things you will need to have for your dog. It is best to check with your airline regarding rules and restrictions before flying.
- A crate or kennel to keep your dog in. It must be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in.
- Two dishes that attach to the crate, one for food and one for water.
- Pre-packaged food to attach to the crate.
- Collar & Leash with ID tags.
- Litter to absorb any messes.
- Blankets for comfort.
- A toy or two to help relieve boredom
You may also want to include a t-shirt that you’ve worn (and not washed) so that he will have something with your scent on it to comfort him.
See the previous article Traveling with Your Dog for additional items you will need to have for your dog while traveling.
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