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9 Tips for Flying With A Pet

If you’re faced with flying with a pet, chances are you feel scared. Arranging your pet’s reservation and getting all the required documents can be nerve-wracking. And then there are the concerns for your pet’s safety during the flight. Perhaps you’ve even considered driving to your destination instead. But if time is a factor, or you’re relocating to another part world, flying may be your only option.

If that’s the case, keep in mind that millions of animals fly each year in the United States alone. We hear about the tragedies and mishaps in the media, but the vast majority of pets arrive safely. Part of safe flying with a pet starts with you. Be sure to research the airline and talk to staff before and during your flight to help calm your fears. And, by following the tips below, you will feel more prepared for your flight so you can both fly with a bit less stress.

9 Tips for Flying with a Pet |


Tips for Flying With A Pet Safely

1. Talk to Your Vet

The first step when flying with a pet is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. You want to ensure that your pet is in good health to fly. If you get the go-ahead from your vet to travel, make a second appointment close to your date of departure. Then check with the airline and state veterinarian at your destination to determine what documentation you’ll need. It’s not unusual for airlines to require a health certificate issued within 10 days of your flight.

2. Make Sure Your Pet’s Breed Isn’t Restricted

More than ever, airlines are putting restrictions on dog and cat breeds, namely Brachycephalic or “short-nosed” breed like Boston terriers, boxers, and bull dogs, among several others. Some airlines will allow you to fly with your short-nosed pet in cabin, provided they fit within the size and weight guidelines, but always check with your airline before hand.

READ MORE ⇒  US Airline Pet Polices

Tips for Flying with a Pet


3. Book in Advance

Airlines allow a limited number of pets per flight, so book early to ensure you get your desired flight. Especially when you fly with your pet in cargo or internationally, be sure to make your reservations well in advance because the requirements can take months to prepare.

4. Acclimate Your Pet to the Kennel

Purchase your kennel well in advance and start getting your pet used to being in the space. Similar to crate training, your goal is for your pet to think of the kennel as a den – a safe, comfortable place they like hanging out.

To help your pet develop a positive association with the kennel, feed her in it for several weeks leading up to your flight. Put her bed and a few favorite toys inside to show her that it is her space to play, sleep, and retreat.

9 Tips for Flying with a Pet |

For the flight, line the kennel with a dog travel bed and top it with with puppy pads, just in case of an accident during the flight.

9 Tips for Flying with a Pet |

5. Don’t Give Your Pet a Sedative

Tranquilizers are not recommended for pets during flight as they can interfere with a dog’s ability to control body heat at high altitude. If you’re concerned you pet may be anxious, consider CBD oil or treats (be sure to check regulations about flying with CBD oil), calming drops, or a vest designed to calm you pet.


6. Ask to Board Early

Flying with a pet may make you eligible for early boarding – just ask. Getting yourself and your pet situated before your flight can take some time, and having a few extra minutes can help you both remain calm.

READ MORE ⇒  Barking Dogs in Hotel Rooms – Tips for a Quiet Stay

7. Keep Your Pet’s Health Documents Handy

Each airline sets their own requirements for pets flying in the cabin and in cargo. Determine which documents your airline requires and keep them handy, so when you’re asked by various staff members, you can easily provide them.

8. Seek out the Pet Relief Areas Before You Fly

Most airports are now required to offer pet relief areas. Before your flight, map out the closest one to your terminal for efficient pet potty breaks during layovers. To help located pet relief areas, Alaska Airlines put together this comprehensive list in airports they service, or ask the staff at the airline gate.

Keep in mind that your pet may not want to go, since the locations are often indoors and on astroturf. Have a puppy pad handy in case your pet decides to eliminate somewhere outside of the pet relief area.

9. Bring a Chew Toy for Take Off and Landing

Like humans, pressure will build up in your pet’s ears during take off and landing. You may notice your pet batting at her ears or shaking her head frequently. Give her a chew toy or hard, chewy treats to help them relieve any discomfort.


Follow these tips, and you and your pet can have a safe, comfortable flight.


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  • Janet Lloyd says:

    I have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
    I’m in chicago and want to take to UK.
    Worried since she’s terrified of people when I take her to pet store she shaking.
    I rescued her from back yard breeders 8 years ago.
    Worried about cargo hold. Shes q emotional therapy dog. Janet

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Janet. I’m sorry to hear that your dogs is so afraid. I’d be worried about putting her in a cargo hold, too. Unfortunately, unless there is someone you can leave her with, I don’t know what option you have. Also, you should know there is a pit bull ban in the UK. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are legal, but look similar to Pit Bulls, so you might need to prove that your dog isn’t a Pit Bull to take her to the UK. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. I wish you the best of luck with her.

  • Adam says:

    Great tips, Jen.

    I hadn’t heard the bit about avoiding sedatives.

    We moved 1000 miles and were too nervous to let our dog fly 3 hours to our new home. We made the 16 hour drive instead. This was during summertime so we would have probably done it either way. One day, we might work up the courage to fly them but the idea of a dog in cargo hold freaks us out!

  • Rick Mejia says:

    And a wonderful bath, good body condition, emotionally stable and a proper grooming before flying are some other things that helps them feel comfortable and safe. Many of my friends did that. :)

  • Just the tought of flying with Ty and Buster makes me break out in a cold sweat, Pamela! I’m also glad Jen addressed the human stress in this post, because it can be reduced with proper preparation.

  • Such a good post. So many people write about flying with pets and don’t even mention how scary it can be for the humans. In truth, at least some of the motivation for learning to sail was because I wanted to travel overseas with my dog and fear flying with a large dog. But it looks like things went well for Sora thanks to all the preparation in advance.

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