Traveling with your dog on an airplane

Whether you’re heading to the beach or traveling to cooler areas, your dog will have plenty of time to explore new environments and see new sights with you.

Of course, vacation sometimes means getting on a plane. That doesn’t mean your canine lover can’t join you – dogs can be international jet setters too! However, this means there are many things you need to plan ahead for to ensure that traveling with your dog is a smooth one.

Before getting your dog on a plane, there are a few things that need to be organized before you even get to the airport. Fortunately, most of the things that are required while flying a dog can be done well in advance. It is best to start the preparations seven to eight months before your departure. In any case, even if your dog is healthy, consult the veterinarian before you leave. Some countries require vaccinations, health checks, or certificates before your dog can enter!

How to Prepare When Flying with a Dog

Many pet owners want to know how to easily travel on a plane with a dog, but the truth is that every trip requires a little preparation! However, if you organize things for your dog in advance, then there should be nothing to worry about. Read our checklist to make sure you’ve got it all covered, then prepare for a fun-filled vacation with the world’s best travel companion.

Dog and owner

Organize things in advance

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  • Contact the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs before the rest of the preparations begin (DEFRA) about your trip.
  • DEFRA can inform you about the travel requirements for dogs for your destination. You might want to check out www.defra.gov.uk to get started.
  • When booking your flight, make sure the airline knows that you want to take your dog on the plane. They are happy to give you advice. The IATA website also provides useful information about traveling with pets.
  • Your crate must comply with flight regulations. So make sure you have one sorted. Finding one at the last minute will be stressful!
  • Also, consider food and water bowls attached to the front of the basket that is less likely to spill and easier to refill from the outside. The sooner you get them, the better.
  • Make sure you are familiar with your airline’s regulations. For example, prepare yourself that you may not be petting the entire trip as they cannot be in the cabin with you.
  • Visit your veterinarian at least 7-8 months prior to travel as the country you are visiting may have special vaccination requirements or certificates.
  • Some destinations require a health certificate 24-48 hours before flying a dog. If so, book your vet appointment to avoid any last-minute stress!
  • Acclimate your pet to the crate well in advance of flying with a dog to relieve the stress. Set it in their home environment with a nice bed and goodies until they are happy to be there.

On that day

  • Before your flight, attach a small luggage tag to your dog’s collar that will display information about your destination’s temporary stay – in case something goes wrong.
  • Make sure the information on your dog’s ticket exactly matches the information on yours. You don’t want to end up in different places!
  • Before you take your dog on a plane, double-check each label affixed to your pet’s container and make sure it is tagged with both your dog’s information and your flight information.
  • Include a pack of food and water with the container – this sounds easy, but forgetting to do it can seriously affect your plans. Dogs on airplanes can get quite thirsty.
  • Include a 24-hour feeding schedule and other information for the tour operator in case your pet does not get to its final destination for any reason.
  • Arrive at the airport on time after making sure your dog has eaten earlier in the day, is relieved, well trained, and comfortable – keep stress to a minimum!
  • When considering how to fly with dogs, withhold food for at least 2 to 4 hours before travel to avoid motion sickness. This way, your dog shouldn’t be sick once they get on a plane and start traveling.
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Flying with an assistance/guide dog

Unlike most pets, assistance dogs or guide dogs can travel with you in the cabin on most flights. Usually, you and your dog will be placed in the front row so that your dog has plenty of room to lie down. You do not You will have to pay all kinds of fees to be able to take an assistance dog on an airplane.

If you would like to accompany an assistance dog in the cabin, please call and inform your travel provider as this type of request cannot normally be processed online and must be confirmed well in advance of the flight.

For more information on traveling with an assistance dog on an airplane, see the CAA website.

Other things to consider when flying with a dog

  • If you think your dog will be very stressed from the trip, speak to your veterinarian. They may be able to offer you tips on how to keep your pet more relaxed.
  • Sedation may be possible, but some medications will affect how your dog handles temperature changes. In the end, it could increase movement. Your vet will tell you more.
  • If sedation is considered prior to the dog’s travel, test the protocol before the big day to make sure your dog is not experiencing any adverse effects.
  • Traveling with a dog under 3 months old, or an older, pregnant, or sick dog is not a good idea (and may not be allowed). Think about how to handle it when you get your dog on the plane.
  • If you have more than one dog, consider crate at a time (the porter may ask for it anyway). Even friends can get excited together during a long trip
  • Make travel plans easy for your dog. Try to fly your dog as directly as possible to avoid being moved between planes which is not fun even for humans!
  • Think about the timing of your flight to avoid coming to very hot or cold times of the day. You want your dog to get used to the new climate and not be surprised upon arrival.
  • The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) helps you travel with your pet in Europe.
  • Not all flights are approved for the carriage of animals, so you may need to take a different flight than your dog.
  • When checking airline policies before flying with a dog, be sure to document all conversations. It’s safer than sorry to have your friend involved.

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