Flying with Your Dog

Pet Insurance  •   Mary Shaughney  •   Apr 11, 2018

Traveling with your dog can be exciting, but learning how to fly with a dog can be a little stressful. The first hurdle to cross is all the preparation that comes with reserving a space in the cabin for your pup, knowing what carrier will work on your flight, and obtaining a health certificate. Successfully preparing to fly with your dog can make the day of travel less of a hassle. Here are some things to know about heading to airport with your dog!

The First Stop: Checking In

Most airlines advise that people traveling with pets arrive two hours before their flight. There are a few extra steps involved when flying with a pet and you don’t want to feel rushed or miss your flight. When you get to the airport, give your pup a potty break before entering. You’ll have to check in at the ticket counter so the airlines can confirm that your dog has his health certificate and is flying in an approved carrier.

Navigating Security

Security may seem like a daunting task now that you are responsible for you and your dog and there’s a long line of stressed out travelers behind you. Take your time and everything will be fine! Remove your own coat, shoes, etc. before removing your pup from his carrier. The carrier goes through the X-ray machine You can carry or lead your dog on a leash through the metal detector.

Keep Your Receipt

Once you’ve paid your pet-fee, it helps to keep the receipt handy. While some airlines will ask for proof that you’ve paid only when checking-in, others may ask when boarding the plane or at other times throughout your trip. Knowing where you’ve stored your receipt can help reduce the stress you face while flying with a pet.

Know Your Bathroom Options

Thanks for a new airport terminal rule, airports serving 10,000 passengers or more per year have to dedicate an area in each terminal for a pet relief area. If you’re lucky enough to fly into or out of such an airport, you may be surprised by the creative measures taken for your dog’s bathroom. Newer pet facilities often include an area of turf grass with a hose for spraying down the grass after use. Some even provide a fire hydrant or fake tree!

If the airport you fly into doesn’t have a pet relief area, you still have options to provide your pet with a place to go. If you have a long layover or are finished with your trip, you can sometimes find grassy pet relief areas close to the outside of the airport. These areas should also be used before entering the airport for a flight. Be sure to leave yourself enough time to go back through security if you leave the airport during a layover for a pet potty break!

Teaching your dog to do his business on pee-pads can also help. Try to use the pee-pad somewhere discreet and clean up any mess immediately after it occurs.

How Much Is Too Much: Food and Water

There are varying opinions about the amount and timing for feeding your dog before a flight. The general guideline is to feed around 4 hours prior to flying. Water should be provided throughout the trip, however you might want to limit the amount to prevent accidents. Ensure your dog drinks enough to remain hydrated and have a food/water dish handy so you can offer your pet water while in the terminal and during the flight.

Boarding the Plane

Some airlines will allow people flying with pets to get in their priority line and board with one of the first groups on the plane. Boarding early will give you a little more time and space to get your pup settled. Remember, your dog should remain in his carrier underneath the seat in front of you. Luggage bins are not an acceptable place to put an animal in a carrier and may cause harm to your dog.

Temperatures May Vary

While the temperature inside the terminal should be comfortable for your pup, once you board the plane it could be a different story. Since your dog is located beneath the seat in front of you, when air begins to circulate on the floor of the plane it can get cold for your pet. If the flight attendants choose not to circulate the air on the cabin’s floor, this area can become hot for a dog. If your dog is temperature sensitive, bring along an extra blanket and a cooling pad to cover all your bases. 

On to Adventure!

Flying with your dog for the first time may seem like a lot to handle, but soon the two of you will be old pros. Travelling with your pup in the cabin is a much safer way to fly for him and will give you peace of mind!

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Mary Shaughney

About the Author
Mary Shaughney

Mary comes to AKC Pet Insurance with an extensive background in animal care. As a lifelong animal lover, she has a passion for promoting pet health and wellness. Mary lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her orange kitty, "Cat" and her dog, " Wubbi".