Nearly 40% of dog owners have chosen not to travel so they could stay home with their dog, according to one report from the pet sitter and dog walker network Rover.
With the report based on a survey of 500 dog owners also finding that 38% of respondents have driven instead of flown to their destination to bring their pup along on vacation, there’s no question as to the lengths people will go for their furry friend.
For those looking to plan a trip anytime soon, it’s essential to realize that Fido can often join you on your flight — and preparing for such a trip doesn’t have to be overwhelming, either.
Understand the requirements involved
When planning to take your dog on a plane, it’s essential to realize that the regulations will differ based on a few factors — such as the size of your pup.
Regarding small dogs, People.com notes that “Most domesticated dogs weighing 20 pounds or less are allowed to travel with their owners in the cabin of the plane.”
However, it’s further mentioned that owners can’t simply bring their pup on board, as dog owners must follow various rules and restrictions. This typically includes registration, fees, pre-flight paperwork (including health/vaccination records), and age restrictions (some airlines have specific regulations for younger dogs), to name just a few.
And, if you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need to prepare to meet additional requirements (like a pet passport).
When looking to travel with larger dogs, People states that “Dogs over 20 pounds, unless they are emotional support or service dogs, will have to travel in the cargo hold of the plane.”
However, it’s further noted that not all airlines offer this option, making it imperative to research the airline of your choice beforehand. Condé Nast Traveler also elaborates on additional dog restrictions when planning air travel, with one article noting that some breeds may be banned from traveling altogether — this typically applies to brachycephalic breeds with short or snubbed noses — due to the breathing concerns involved.
The importance of the right crate or carrier
A carrier or crate will likely be involved when planning to travel by air, whether you’re traveling with a smaller dog in the cabin or a larger dog flying in the cargo hold.
While the specific details regarding precisely what you need vary based on the airline, guidelines typically require that your pet must be able to rotate freely inside. Your pet must be able to stand with its head up and unrestricted by the container — both of which will help ensure your pup is comfortable throughout the flight.
Other must-have features for your pet’s container include good ventilation, a water bowl to attach to the container, escape-proof hinges/latches, a strong and sturdy build, and an absorbent lining to prevent leaks.
Where specific airline requirements are concerned, Condé Nast also notes that most only allow a few dogs per flight (typically two to six, depending on the type of plane), so calling ahead are a must before booking travel.
Preparing your pup for travel stress
Traveling is well known to be a stressful event for people, and the same can easily be said for pets, too. With that in mind, crate training can be a great way to prepare your dog for a flight, as it can help them get used to their crate/carrier beforehand.
“Flying on planes is stressful for people and stressful for dogs or any animal,” Derek Huntington, a former president of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) and the managing director of Capital Pet Movers, tells The Washington Post. “Crate training is vital, because that’s going to be the dog’s safe space during the travel time.”
When it comes to medication, The Washington Post article goes on to note that it’s not recommended to tranquilize your dog before a flight (and that airlines will not accept a tranquilized animal due to safety concerns on board, anyway) and that your vet is always the best source for managing your dog’s anxiety via medication or supplements.
Final thoughts on your dog’s first flight
Bringing Fido on a plane for the first time can seem like an overwhelming experience. However, by preparing by speaking with your chosen airline and your vet ahead of time, you can ensure that your pup is ready to go.