10 Things To Know Before Taking Your Pet On A Plane

With more and more people opting to travel with their pets, it's important to know the ins and outs of traveling by plane with your furry friend.


Listed below are 10 issues to remember earlier than taking your pet on a airplane:

  1. 1 Talk to your vet


    When you want to take your pet with you on a trip, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your vet. You should make sure that your animal friend is healthy enough to travel. If your vet says it's okay to travel, make a follow-up appointment with them not too far away from when you want to leave. The next step is to find out what papers you'll need by getting in touch with the state veterinarian and the airline at your destination. It is not unusual for an airline to ask a passenger to show a health certificate that was issued within the last 10 days before their trip.

  2. 2 Get a uniquely sized carrier

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    The second thing to do is get a carrier that meets the specific requirements of the airline you will be flying. Each airline has different rules, but all require that the carrier fit under the seat in front of you. This means that your pet must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably inside their travel home. 

    The general rule of thumb is that carriers should be no more than 19 inches long, 13 inches wide and 9 inches tall, but again, it's best to check with your airline to make sure. That being said, it's also important not override common sense- if your animal looks like they won't fit well in the carrier or will be too cramped, opt for a bigger size.

  3. 3 Purchase an approved harness


    If you're flying with a dog, most airlines will require that they wear an approved restraint during takeoff and landing. These are typically called "harnesses" and can be purchased at most pet stores. It's important to make sure that the harness is approved by your airline- some may have specific requirements like only allowing certain brands or types. Again, it's always best to err on the side of caution and get something that you know for sure will work rather than take any chances at the airport.

  4. 4 Don't wait until the last minute to book

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    While you may be able to get away with booking your own ticket last minute, this definitely isn't the case when traveling with your pet. You need to book your animal's spot on the plane as soon as you know your travel dates. This will ensure that there is space for your pet on the aircraft, and it will also give you time to get all of the necessary paperwork in order.

  5. 5 Don’t give your pet a sedative

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    Although it might be tempting to give your pet a sedative to ensure they sleep through the flight, this is actually not recommended. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “The use of drugs to calm pets during travel should always be done under the supervision and direction of a licensed veterinarian familiar with the animal’s health history and personality.”

    The AVMA also notes that “Animals affected by tranquilizers can exhibit atypical behavior such as panting, drooling, restlessness, anxiety, and increased vocalization. These signs may be interpreted as aggression by airline personnel and could result in problems during boarding or while your animal is in transit."

  6. 6 Put an identity tag on your pet


    You should put an ID tag on your pet that has both your name and contact information (phone number, email address) on it. It's also a good idea to make sure your pet is microchipped so that if they do happen to get lost, there's a better chance of them being returned to you.

  7. 7 Make sure your pet isn’t too cold or hot during their flight

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    You’ll want to make sure that your pet is comfortable during their flight, and unfortunately, this can be tricky. The cargo area of an airplane tends to be quite cold, so if you have a small animal or one with short fur, they may get chilly. On the other hand, if you're traveling to a hot destination, the cargo area might get too warm for your pet. Talk to your vet about how to keep your animal friend comfortable and what type of carrier you should use.

  8. 8 Watch for age and breed restrictions

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    Most airlines don't let certain breeds of dogs travel with them. This includes bulldogs, pugs, and other breeds with short noses that are more likely to have breathing problems like bulldogs. There may also be rules about certain kinds of cats. For example, you can't bring Burmese, exotic shorthair, Himalayan, or Persian cats on United flights, so you should read the company's rules carefully. Federal rules say that pets have to be at least eight weeks old before they can fly, but each airline may have other rules. For example, United wants puppies and kittens to be at least 4 months old, while Delta wants them to be at least 10 weeks old.

  9. 9 Feed your pet hours before the trip

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    It might be uncomfortable for a dog to travel with a full stomach. However, "you can and should continue to give them water right up until the time of the flight." Let your pet go to the bathroom in an airport relief area before you get on the plane (according to federal laws, airports with more than 10,000 passengers must offer a pet rest area in each terminal.). The American Kennel Club says that Denver International Airport is the most pet-friendly airport in the United States because it has so many bathrooms for pets.

  10. 10 Provide a pre-flight exercise

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    Exercise is an important part of any animal's life, but it becomes even more crucial when they're going to be cooped up in a small space for an extended period of time. A good rule of thumb is to take your pet for a long walk or run at least two hours before your flight. This will help them burn off some energy and hopefully make the experience less stressful for them.

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