What You Need to Know About Flying With Your Dog


Your dog is a member of your family. And, if you’ve learned anything in the corps, you know that you never leave anyone behind, cadet or otherwise. Therefore, when you plan a trip, you may find yourself making travel accommodations for your pet, too. 

When it comes to air travel, things can feel a little complicated – especially if it is your first time. 

Take a deep breath. Flying with your dog doesn’t have to be tough. We’ve got everything you need to know for a smooth, hassle-free experience.

Cargo vs. Carry-On

One of the choices you will have to make when it comes to flying with your dog is whether he will travel as a carry-on or as part of the cargo. Though, a lot of this is going to depend on size. For instance, as a carry-on, your dog will have to be small enough to fit underneath the seat in front of you. If your pup is too big, then cargo it is. 

The cargo hold will definitely get your pup to the destination, but it does not always provide the most pleasant experience. This means flying underneath the cabin with all the luggage. Things can move and shift during travel, there are often loud sounds, and for those dogs who have never flown before – unfamiliar sensations, too. Many dogs find this experience quite upsetting. 

The Need for a Pet Carrier

Each airline will have a list of requirements when it comes to the pet carrier/crate you travel with. Some are more particular than others so this is definitely something you will want to check out in advance before you head to the airport.

Common basic requirements include holes for ventilation, a leakproof bottom, and durable handles. You will want to mark which way is up, clearly state that it contains a live animal, and put your contact information as well as the destination on the crate. 

The guidelines will apply to dogs traveling via the cargo hold and as a carry-on. 

Cost of Pet Travel

You will want to check out your airline’s charges for flying with your dog. For example, just because your fur pup goes under the seat in front of you as a carry-on doesn’t mean he travels for free. In fact, the difference between putting your backpack under the seat or putting Fido could be about $125.00 – or more!

There is a cost for cargo, too, which is often based on weight. 

Flying Private

While flying a private charter may not be in everyone’s budget, it is worth noting that most will allow your dog to fly right in the cabin with you – and without having to be under the seat. Your dog will be able to roam freely and comfortably. 

Before you knock this option, check into it. You may be surprised at the cost of charter jets – especially if you are traveling with friends or family. Empty leg specials and other discounts, when split amongst others, could be much more affordable than you think. And one look with puppy dog eyes could be all you need to make the purchase.

Make an Appointment with Your Vet

Just before flying with your dog, it is important to make an appointment with the vet. A routine checkup will give you confirmation that your dog is healthy enough to fly and will allow you to make sure your pup is up to date on all vaccinations. 

Don’t leave your vet’s office without a certificate of health showing that your dog is immunized and healthy for travel. This is required by many airlines before your pet will be able to board the flight. Note that these are often only good for 30 days so plan your vet visit accordingly. 

Finally, this visit is a great opportunity to discuss any concerns about traveling and any methods of sedation that could make the experience more pleasant. 

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