What to Know When Flying with Your Dog


Being Patient With His Humans In Poland

Being Patient With His Humans In Poland

What To Know When Flying With Your Dog

Flying with your animal is a stressful experience for everyone involved. It is best to prepare for your trip as early as possible, and use common sense when deciding if your pet is capable of flying. It is not recommended for some animals so consult with your veterinarian if you have any doubts. However, sometimes its inevitable, such as in the case of moving overseas – which I did twice with two different dogs. 

 - Make your flight reservations as early as possible. Airlines only have a limited amount of room in the pet cargo area, and they only allow a certain number in the cabin on each flight. Also be aware that there are embargo periods depending on the weather (i.e. no summer travel in hot areas, no winter travel in very cold areas).

- Have the following information ready when making a reservation with an airline: Dog Breed, Age and Weight; Size of Kennel (L x W x H); Combined Weight of Kennel and Dog.

- Research your destination(s) and make sure you have the proper documentation for your pet. Most countries require a Health Certificate dated within 24-48 hours before departure. Some countries also require a USDA stamp from your state’s USDA department. Make sure you know the return destinations requirements also.

- Get your dog used to the kennel that he will be flying in. And make sure he/she can stand fully and have room to turn around or you could be denied boarding at the airport. Put blankets, toys, treats, and any other familiar items in the kennel to get the dog used to going in it. During the flight, put comfy pillows/blankets in the kennel along with any other security-blanket type items (but only if you are sure your pet won’t choke on them). Keep treats handy for giving to your pet at the airport.

-Get 2 bowls that will clip onto the inside of the kennel – one for food and one for water. Don’t fill the water bowl until they come to take your pet onboard (some people also suggest freezing the water in the bowl overnight so it will melt during travel). The water will spill so try to find a deep bowl (I also put a washcloth down under the bowls to soak up the spills so it doesn’t get on my dog’s blankets). It’s recommended to not feed your pet within 24 hours of departure (especially for long-haul flights), but to put a bit of food in the bowl. Also attach a ziploc bag to the top of the kennel with extra food and feeding instructions in case of delays, etc.

- Put clear labels on all sides of the kennel with your contact information including the pet’s name and type, destination address, phone number(s), and flight information including your flight and  reservation numbers. Also put signs on the outside (writing should be a minimum of 2 inches high) with an arrow up and “Live Animal”. Some airlines have their own stickers, but its good to be prepared just in case.

- Once onboard, if your pet is flying in cargo, ask the flight attendant to confirm your pet is onboard. They will call the captain who can call the ground crew to confirm. Live animals are the last items loaded, and it’s always a relief to know your pet is onboard.

With a little preparation, a lot of the stress of flying with your dog can be eliminated. The first time is always the worst, but just try to remain calm for the sake of yourself and your pet. The flight will be over soon enough, and you can once again enjoy one another’s company! 

Happy Travels!

If you have any questions about flying with your pet, please don’t hesitate to email Leila@worldclasstvl.com. I have flown with my dog multiple times and can answer any questions you have, plus help you book your flight and vacation.

Print This Post Print This Post

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Shibani at 4:26 pm

Hi there….

Thanks for the helpful info. here….I am travelling with my 1.5 yr old labrador from Bangalore, India to Toronto, Canada. He suffers from separation anxiety – and I am unsure of whether he should be sedated on the long haul flight. Also, I called the Animal Import department in Canada and was told that ALL I need is a anti-rabies certificate from a licensed vet. I was told this verbally and do not have anything in writing. The official Canadian Immigration website does not have any info. reg. pet quarantine requirement.

Having read the stringent US requirements, I am not sure if what I was told for Canada is correct. I do not want to be stuck at the Toronto airport with my poor little pet. I have 2 questions:
1. What is the longest flight your dog(s) have been on?
2. Have you sedated them? Do any of them suffer from separation anxiety?

Any advise that you can give me would be greatly appreciated….

Thanks & regards,

Shibani at 4:27 pm

Hi there….

One more question – do you have any knowledge of what the pet requirements (vaccinations, quarantine etc) in Canada are?


leila coe at 11:35 am

Hi Shibani,

Thank you for your messages!

To answer your first questions:
1. The longest flight my dog has been on was about 10-11 hours (in the air).
2. He has separation anxiety – very much so – but we did not sedate him. There are alternatives to sedation, such as herbal remedies, but I am not sure if they would be available in India.

Besides looking into the pet import rules for Canada, you also need to check the pet export rules for India. I would highly recommend contacting http://www.PetRelocation.com as they deal with moving pets from/to India all the time and are very helpful. Please let them know that I have referred you to them. I will also send you their email privately.

Thank you and I hope you have a safe journey!

Dena at 2:00 pm

Thank you SO much for this helpful article.

I am anticipating acceptance to a veterinary school in Grenada and my dog will be coming with me. I’m an early planner and want to make sure that everything is in order months in advance. My boy is a 67 lb Shepherd/Husky/Terrier mix that absolutely *abhors* closed confinement in any form. He’s a rescue dog (I volunteer with a rescue here in NYC as a foster caretaker) and fellow rescuers have called it “shelter syndrome” or “crate craze.” True to his Husky traits, he is an escape artist of the most elaborate form and I had to install special locks in my home as he had learned how to open 2 bolt locks and use a handle door to let himself out.

He has broken out of 3 crates and I am utterly terrified of him doing the same with an airplane crate. He froths and throws his entire body weight against the front of the crate until it gives, even after a long run or bike ride before being placed in one. Do you have any tips as to how I could make the trip a bit easier for him? I’ve started sitting with him in the crate that I have now and giving him treats once he lies down and letting him out after he relaxes and yawns. But when I’m not in there with him, he panics.

If I could drive, I would. I will be driving down to Florida and flying out of an airport there to minimize the time he spends in the crate, but am such a control freak and nervous Nelly when it comes to him (as he is extremely sensitive and not the easiest to handle – he’s not aggressive, just very strong (I’ve worked with dogs three times his size and none compare to his strength) and very vocal). I would be ever so appreciative for some of your insight.

Thanks so very much and have a beautiful day!

Leave a Comment

Previous post: The Five Most Pet-Friendly Domestic Airlines of 2009 – from Petfinder.com

Next post: What Do I Know About Traveling With Small Dogs?