Flying the Friendly Skies with your Pet: Worth the Risk?

November 9, 2017 at 2:00 AM by Nikki Wardle

airplane travel with your dog

The holidays are fast approaching, and it's the season to visit grandma, your parents or whoever you've promised you'll be home for Christmas. Is Rover hopping on an airplane with you as well this year? If so, it's crucial that you plan ahead and factor your furry carry-on into your travel plans. Here's how to make sure things go smoothly on your first flight with Fido.

Flying With a Dog

The last thing you want is for your dog's first flight to be overly traumatic for both of you. Some forethought can make your trip simpler and avoid unnecessary anxiety. Here's how.

  1. Book your flights early: Don't wait until the last minute to book your reservation. Reserve your dog's "seat" and yours at the same time: call the airline to be sure there's room for your dog before finalizing your ticket.
  2. Buy the right carrier: No matter how big or small your dog is, they'll need a pet carrier. Find a pet carrier that fits your travel needs: soft-sided carriers tend to be best for carry-on passengers, while hard-sided ones are best when your dog will be flying in the cargo hold. Make sure your carrier fits the airline's size restrictions and that it's comfortably big enough for your dog to turn around and lounge in.
  3. Identify your dog: Take precautions to be sure that your dog will end up reunited with you, no matter how hectic the airport may be. Mistakes happen in air travel, and if your dog is lost during your trip, you want to be sure she'll be returned to you easily. Tape a tag with your dog's name, your name, and your phone number on it to the outside of your carrier. Be sure your dog is wearing his or her collar, and consider getting your dog microchipped before you leave.
  4. Make a veterinarian appointment: Before you go, be sure that your dog is in good health and all vaccinations are up-to-date. Your dog may come into contact with illnesses like kennel cough on your trip, and immunizations could be the difference between good health and a miserable sickness.
  5. Avoid sedatives: Some pet owners are tempted to give their dogs a tranquilizer or sedative before a flight, assuming it'll put their pup at ease and thus make them less anxious. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that in most cases this is unnecessary and even harmful, causing respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Sedatives can even increase your dog's chance of injury by compromising their equilibrium, making it hard for them to stay safe while their carrier is moved around. Talk to your vet before choosing to use a sedative or tranquilizer.
  6. Move around first: Give your dog ample time to get energy out before the flight. Go on a long walk beforehand and spend some time playing with your dog. Don't give food for four hours beforehand, so your dog doesn't need to go during the flight.

If you think that your canine won't do well traveling on a plane, consider taking advantage of our lodge. We can take care of your your pooch while your are away with family. We also give your the added piece of mind that there are veterinarian technicians that check on your fur-baby daily.

As always, we're happy to answer your questions about traveling with your pet. Feel free contact us to learn more.

Topics: Dog Boarding

Nikki Wardle

Written by Nikki Wardle

Nikki has been writing for Intermountain Pet Hospital since 2014.