Why Flying With Your Dog Takes Planning
You can't just hop on a plane with your dog.... it takes some planning.
Traveling by air with your dog is definitely doable, but takes some planning on your part.
While there are general rules and guidelines for flying with dogs, you need to check on your specific airline to determine their regulations. Just because you travel a certain way with your dog on one airline, does not mean you can on any airline.
Many airlines have restrictions as to the total number of kennels as cargo they will allow per flight, and the total number of in-cabin kennels they allow per flight. This means you need to start your planning and make your reservations early to ensure you get these spots as they are typically first come first serve.
Certain destinations have particular restrictions – make sure you research thoroughly. For example, if flying to Hawaii, health and rabies certification may only be dated 10 days prior and your dog must be quarantined in Hawaii for anywhere from 30 to 120 days. International travel can be even more strict.
As a general rule, all airlines require a recent full physical examination before air travel. They must also be tested for all major diseases, including rabies. You will need to provide an exam certificate and recent vaccinations to your airline. These must be recent and current - check with your airline for how recent.
If your dog is flying as cargo, there are certain restrictions as to when they can travel. Many airlines will not allow live cargo if the arrival or departure city temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is enforced for the health safety of the pets.
Dogs Traveling In The Cabin
If your dog is small enough, airlines are now permitting them to be transported with you in the cabin. This typically ends up being cheaper for the passenger, and less stressful for the dog.
However, your dog must be able to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you. This ends up being approximately 9 inches high by 22 inches long, but you must check with your airline and find out the particular aircraft you will be flying on and that aircraft’s under seat dimension.
If your dog cannot fit in that size kennel, then they must be transported as cargo. Only one pet is allowed per passenger. If you have two small dogs, you must travel with another person.
Dogs Traveling in Checked Baggage or Cargo
Depending upon where you are traveling, and what time of year (see weather considerations above), your dog may have to be cargo.
Regardless of whether checked baggage or cargo, your dog should be placed in a hard sided, airline approved dog carrier.
Never leave the leash in the crate with the dog, but rather secure it to the outside of the crate.
Also, never leave a choke-collar on a dog in a crate.
For the majority of dogs, if traveling in cargo or baggage, a sedative from your vet is recommended to make the travel less stressful.
Before checking in your crate, make sure you take your dog for a walk and allow them to relieve themselves. This is going to be stressful for them, and having a full bladder on top of that is not fun.
Customs laws differ greatly depending upon with country you are flying to.
However, international flying with pets is generally VERY restricted. If you need to fly international with your pet, make sure you start checking with the airlines and nation you are flying to months in advance.