By Leslie Simpson, DVM
Everyone dreams of bringing their four-legged companion on holiday trips with them. However, it is not always the case that they get to do so. Sometimes it just isn’t possible for owners to bring their pets, especially dogs, on long flights. But when it is possible, fear shouldn’t be part of the equation. With these simple steps, you can ensure the safety of your beloved canine on all your trips and family getaways.
Visit the Vet first
The most important step is to ensure that your dog is in the best of health to fly with you. Make an appointment with the veterinarian close to the departure date. Most airports will ask you for a certificate from the vet issued within ten days of the flight. This is an important document without which you may not be allowed to bring your furry pal with you on the flight.
Get A Non-Stop Flight
Try as much as you can to get a non-stop flight to your destination. Additionally, it is best to avoid traveling with your pet during the holiday season since the airports are quite busy during this time. For warm-weather destinations, a morning or evening flight is ideal since the temperature during these times isn’t as high. For colder climates, mid-day flights are the best.
Get A Good Crate
The rule of thumb that must be followed here is that if your dog is small enough to fit in a crate that can be placed under your seat, you can get it on board. It ought to be big enough for your dog to stand up and move around. The exact dimensions may vary depending on the airline. If your dog isn’t small enough to fit in the crate, then it will have to ride in the cargo hold.
Ensure that the crate has the following:
• Strong handles on top and on the side
• A leak-proof bottom that is padded with absorbent material
• Proper ventilation on at least two sides
• A sign that says “live animal” and arrows showing which way is up.
• Label with the owner’s name, address, and contact info.
It is important to note that you should check in as late as possible. This is of great importance, especially when the dog is flying in the cargo hold, as this will minimize the waiting time at the terminal.
Don’t Drug Your Dog
It can be tempting to administer a sedative to your dog before the flight, so it doesn’t create a ruckus. But this is not only inhumane but will also affect your dog’s ability to control the heat at higher altitudes. If you believe that your dog may get anxious, CBD oil is an excellent alternative to give. Additionally, you could provide calming drops or a vest that can help calm the pet down. 7 Natural Remedies For Anxiety, Nervousness Or Fear In Dogs offers additional ways to keep your dog calm during the trip.
Things To Do At The Airport
If you are bringing the dog on board, you will have to go through security with your dog. Remove the dog from its crate, remove its collar and carry it through security as the crate goes through X-ray. Ensure that you have a current photo of your dog on your phone and on the crate. Get a small bag of dog food to ensure that your dog doesn’t go hungry in cases of delay.
Play With Your Dog Before Leaving For The Airport
A tired dog is a happy dog. Play or train with your dog before leaving so he can ease into the flight without any hiccups. The tiredness will make your dog sleep through the journey, which will make for a smoother flight for the dog. Make sure that you don’t train it excessively. A few more minutes of play is enough to get your dog tired enough to sleep.
Limit Water Intake Before The Flight
Once you have played with your dog, give him some food and water. However, be strategic in this aspect and do not give too much water since you won’t be able to relieve your dog on the flight. Some airports have designated areas where the dog can relieve himself. Give your dog food and water no more than once every four hours until landing. Consult with your Veterinarian to ensure this schedule will be OK for your particular dog. Vets suggest that healthy dogs can keep control of their bladder for as long as 10 hours. To prepare for any contingencies, ensure that there is a pee pad in the crate.
Be Ready To Pay Extra
Getting your dog to accompany you on flights is not a cheap affair. Most airlines will charge an additional $100 flying one way to allow you to get your furry friend on board. Ensure that you have made room for it in your budget; otherwise, you may have to leave your dog with a friend or relative.
Prepare For The Plane’s Environment
There are floor air conditioners installed in some planes that can make your dog very cold during the flight. To combat this, make sure you pack enough blankets to keep your dog warm. One could just as easily stow the inner lining of the crate with T-shirts to get the same effect. The smell of the owner will keep the dog calm and comfortable.
Get A Chew Toy For Your Dog
The discomforts that humans feel due to pressure build-up in their ears are also felt by dogs. This is most prominent during takeoff and landing. One can witness this in dogs in the batting of the ears and the shaking of the head. To relieve this discomfort, give your dog a sturdy chew toy on flights.
Upon Reaching The Destination
As soon as you arrive, the first thing that you must do is to take your dog someplace outside. The dog has been cramped in a room for the entirety of the flight and needs fresh air and a place where it can stretch its legs and relieve itself. If you are traveling with someone, ensure that one of you gets the dog outside while the other takes care of collecting the luggage. Consider taking a taxi or a rented car from the airport that allows dogs.
Though it may seem like a lot of work to get your dog to travel on flights with you, the whole ordeal is worth the trouble. It will ensure that your entire family is together for the vacation. Dogs also make amazing companions when exploring new destinations. With a little effort, you can ensure that your dog’s journey is safe and comfortable, and you remain worry-free.
We hope that through this article, you have been well apprised of the precautions that you must take when taking your dog on board. Do you follow a set routine when traveling with your dog? Do let us know in the comments below and share your experience of traveling with your dog on flights. We would love to hear from you and answer any queries that you may have.
Leslie Simpson from Homemaker Guide grew up on a farm in southern Arizona and has always been surrounded by animals. She became a vet and opened a small clinic in California at the age of 40. She currently writes as a hobby and continues to run her business.
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