Although not always the most convenient way to travel with pets, from time to time some of us cannot avoid air travel with our dogs. Most airlines make allowances for traveling with dogs but as an owner you should understand that it takes time to prepare to travel by plane with dogs. There are special considerations to be made, such as how to travel with your dog, and also some extra steps for traveling by air with a dog.
First of all, owners must choose whether to travel with their dog as a carry on or as cargo. Most airlines will allow small dogs in travel carriers to enter the plane. In this case, your dog would be held in a small carry-on carrier and stowed under the seat in front of you. Traveling with your dog on the flight is certainly the best option because you can regularly check on your dog and ensure he has food and water.
On the other hand, large dogs will need to travel in the cargo section of the plane. There are a number of reasons why dogs as cargo is not ideal. Firstly, if your dog becomes anxious there is nobody around to help him. Furthermore, the air temperature in the cargo hold can be extreme. Dogs have actually died of heat exhaustion and even hypothermia during transport; as a result, airlines will often restrict certain times of the year for dog cargo travel. And finally, as luggage can sometimes disappear so can dogs and this can obviously be dangerous for your pet’s health.
Nevertheless, if you must travel by air with dogs be prepared. You’ll need to purchase a USDA approved travel carrier and you must notify the airline when booking your flight that you plan to travel with a dog. Always try to book direct flights to prevent mix-ups with transfers and to make the trip as simple as possible for your dog. You will also need to acquire a health certificate that indicates your dog is in good health and properly vaccinated; this is required by all airlines.
Some final tips for air travel with your dog:
- Do not feed your dog for 12 hours before a flight to reduce the risk of air sickness.
- Make sure to provide water for your dog during the flight.
- Line the bottom of the carrier with shredded paper as it will absorb urine.
- Mark the travel carrier with all relevant information: your home address, airport of origin, and your destination.
- Make sure your dog is wearing and ID collar.
- If your dog is on medication, make sure you pack enough medication to last through the holiday because the medication may not be available at your destination.
- If your dog is on medication, put half of the medications in your checked luggage and the other half in your carry on in case either gets lost.