How to Travel with a Dog on a Plane…Successfully

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Written By Brenda Leary

Going on a trip with your family pet is an exhilarating experience, but it also calls for extra caution in planning to ensure that everything goes well. Here are some proven tips on how to travel with a dog on a plane.

dog suitcase

Book your tickets early

If you wish to bring your furry friend on the next trip across the country, you need to start planning the journey a sooner than if you were just traveling alone. Start by finding out if your preferred airline allows passengers to travel with their pets and the charges you will incur.

Do not be surprised to find that your regular carrier has a no-tolerance policy against domestic pets; not all airlines allow animals into their cabins. In such a scenario, be prepared to make the compromise and try another carrier.

Find out how much you would have to pay and if there are any additional charges for the pet. You can get this information on the airline’s website, or you can opt to call the help desk. Most airlines limit the number of animals allowed in the cabin so book the seats immediately the travel agent confirms their availability.

dog airplaine

Direct flights

Ardent travelers will attest to the fact that taking a direct flight is much more convenient than having to connect with different flights. Direct flights take less time than connecting flights, and you do not have to worry about missing a flight upon landing at the next airport.

When traveling with your family dog, layovers in foreign airports can be a nightmare especially if your dog is temperamental or feeling sick.

Aim to spend the least amount of time spent queuing at the security desk or waiting for luggage to come through the belt. Ask your travel agent to find a direct flight for you or the next best option available.

Find the right carrier

Airlines that allow pets on the plane require that their owners hold them in a carrier for the entire duration of the flight. The luxury of carrying your dog on the lap amid flight is only accorded to passengers using a private jet.

Locking your dog in a cage until you reach your destination may sound cruel, but it comes with the territory. Make it easier by finding a carrier that your dog approves. When selecting the perfect carrier, bring the dog to test it out and see if he can move around comfortably and stand straight.

Once you settle on the most suitable carrier, let the dog practice being in it in the days leading up to the trip. This practice will help the dog familiarize himself with the cage and not fuss up during the flight.

dog doctor

Visit the veterinarian

Similar to humans, your dog needs to be in the best shape to fly. Take the dog for a full medical checkup and update his vaccinations and shots as deemed necessary. If your dog has not flown before, the vet may prescribe a valium to keep the dog calm during the flight.

Avoid administering a sedative or tranquilizer as they are likely to trigger respiratory problems at high altitudes and impair the animal’s ability to balance when you move the carrier. If you must give your dog a tranquilizer, remember to indicate the name of the drug and the dosage on the carrier.

Dog’s checklist

The last step in preparing to travel with your dog is packing the dog’s luggage or suitcase. So what does your furry friend need? The response lies in the dog’s kennel or crate and the dog’s routine at home.

The puppy will need the same care and attention that it is accustomed to back home. Carry dog treats, food and water utensils, collar, leash, flea control products, poop bag, etc.

Make sure to bring your dog’s health certificate and any medications they are taking. You will be asked to present this before boarding and upon landing at your destination.

Exercise the pet

Do some exercise with your dog before the flight to help him relax and relieve himself. Avoid feeding the dog in the hours leading up to boarding as a full stomach will make him uncomfortable, but continue to replenish his water.

Some carriers will require you to check in the dog as opposed to bringing him to the cabin. In such an event, leave the god utensils for food and water in the carrier so that the airline attendant can feed it in the case of delays before the flight or upon landing.


With these guidelines on how to travel with a dog on a plane, you are sure to have a seamless vacation with your family dog.

Brenda Leary is the Editor of Cuddle Your Dog, a site full of great doggie advice

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