Dog owners who have to go somewhere far and travel by air often choose to leave their pups behind with a relative, friend, dog sitter, or at a pet boarding facility. By doing so, they can be sure their furry friends are safe and under the best care. They can also be certain their canines won’t get stressed out and feel anxious during the flight.
However, for many other fur parents, leaving their dogs behind is not an option due to several reasons. If the owners are relocating to another state or country, then there’s no question that they would be making the move with their canines.
Fur parents who can’ t bear to be away from their pets for weeks would prefer to bring their dogs when they travel as well, whether they are going on a business trip or holiday.
If you are also travelling soon and want to bring your dog, know that you have your work cut out for you. Although you will only be parted from your dog during the flight (which could be anywhere from less than 60 minutes or several hours) depending on your destination, you still have a lot of things to do to prepare for the journey.
Getting Ready for Your Pup’s First Flight
To help you and your dog prepare for your first flight together, take note of these vet-approved tips:
Choose your airline carefully.
Not all airlines take pets, and the ones that do have limits on the number of animals allowed on each flight, even in cargo.
Because of this, you have to do research on which airlines you and your dog can take. And while doing so, look into the other essential details as well. Some carriers won’t transport pets during the warmer months, for example.
Some countries and states also prevent flying with animals on board when the ground temperature is too high or low.
Studying your options also means asking about the cost. Be prepared to pay an amount higher than the price of your seat in the cabin (and this can be higher still if you have a large dog).
Once you are sure that your preferred carrier can accommodate you and your dog on your target date, book your tickets.
Ensure you have the right carrier or cage.
Even if you have already purchased tickets for you and your dog, if his carrier, crate, or cage does not meet the airline’s regulations, your pet won’t be allowed to board the plane.
If you are buying a dog carrier or cage for air travel, make sure your pup will be able to stand up inside, turn around, and lie down inside it comfortably. Most airlines require these mobile pet homes to have a width between 16 and 19 inches, or 40.64 and 48.26 cm. Maximum height, on the other hand, is often between 10 and 12 inches or 25.4 and 30.48 cm.
Check this with the airline before buying your pet’s carrier, cage, or crate to ensure you will get one that meets their requirements.
Find out if there are other regulations regarding this accessory. Some airlines, for instance, have a pet policy that states the combined weight of the animal and its carrier should be less than 20 lb or 9 kg.
Schedule a visit to your veterinarian.
If you are travelling overseas, you need to get a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of your departure. You may also be asked to show other requirements from your vet during your flight as well.
Because of this, you will do well to find out what health requirements you need to present during your flight beforehand from your carrier.
You can also contact the foreign office of your destination for additional information. You may be asked to show documents regarding your dog’s canine parvovirus and rabies vaccinations, which are required by some countries.
Aside from getting the necessary certificates and shots, a visit to the clinic allows your specialist to check if your dog is up for the flight.
Crate train your dog.
Preparing your pup for his first flight is an essential part of the entire prep process. Like humans, dogs will also feel anxious when their paws leave the ground.
Spending several hours preparing and practising your pup for air travel can help him deal with his anxieties and fears.
Start by making sure your dog is crate trained. He should be able to move and sleep inside it comfortably even if you are not around.
If your pup is not used to loud sounds and crowds, you also need to desensitise him to these sensations. If not, your dog can suffer from a sensory overload, which will make him anxious and afraid throughout the flight.
Give your pup some exercises that will help him stay calm in the crowd. Moreover, make sure he can be comfortable around strangers.
Lastly, to help your pet be desensitised to the noise during the flight, play some sounds of aeroplanes taking off or loud noises over the PA system in your house at least two weeks before your departure.
Complete your dog’s packing checklist.
All journeys with your pet require plenty of planning and preparation. This means creating a list of things you need to bring for the trip to make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Food should be the first item on your dog’s packing checklist. Make sure you have enough for the round-trip flight and the duration of your stay in your destination.
If you think you don’t have enough for your trip, order your dog food online and make sure it will be delivered to you days before your flight.
Your pup’s travel bag should also include water and feeding bowls, pet wipes, paper towels, and poop bags. Don’t forget to bring his supplements and medications, if he has any, and a first aid kit.
Make sure you pack your pup’s health certificates, vet book, and his latest photo, which you will need in case your dog gets lost.
Prepare your dog’s mobile home.
Finally, days before your flight, make your pet’s crate, carrier, or cage travel-ready. Start by ensuring all the bolts securing the halves of his mobile house are in place and tight.
Put an ID tag on your pet’s housing. Ensure the contact information can be read clearly and easily so that the reader won’t have difficulties understanding what is on it and can get in touch with you quickly.
To make your dog’s mobile home comfortable and easy to clean, put shredded newsprint inside as bedding.
Attach food and water bowls inside the door grate and a supply of kibbles on top of the carrier so that the airline personnel can feed your dog without opening the door.
There are plenty of challenges that you may have to deal with when you travel by air with your dog. However, by following these tips, you will be able to avoid or minimise them and enjoy the whole trip with your furry friend.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear, and Rogz.