It is not ideal to travel by air with your dog, but sometimes there is no other option. You’ll need to consider transport dog crates, and the key is to make the trip as stress free for your dog as you can.
Airplane travel for dogs is fraught with problems, and most pet owners who have made any enquiries about transporting animals by air are aware of dogs being injured or worse on such trips. Don’t misunderstand me, most dog air travel is incident free, but because things can go wrong, planning ahead can mean the difference between a smooth journey for your dog or one with mishaps.
Prior to looking at transport dog crates or buying your airline tickets, the first thing you should do is to call the airline to ascertain their current policies in relation to pet travel. If you plan to transport a puppy, you also need to bear in mind the federal regulations that provide that a dog cannot be less than 8 weeks old as at date of travel, and must have been weaned for at least 5 days before the flight date.
Puppies and small dogs (usually less than 15 pounds in weight) can sometimes travel with you, in transport dog crates or other pet carriers, underneath your seat. If traveling with a small dog in this way, then, it is imperative that you ensure that the transport dog crate or other pet carrier’s dimensions are such that the crate or carrier will fit underneath the seat. Large dogs obviously cannot be slid under seats, and need to go in the cargo compartment of the airplane. It is still essential that the transport dog crates are of a suitable size for the dog, so as to minimize any distress caused to the dog. They need to be big enough so the dog is not completely confined, but not so big that the dog can be injured if the crate is handled carelessly.
These are some steps you can take to ensure a less stressful trip for your pet if you need to transport them by airplane:
– book a direct, non-stop flight wherever possible. Avoid plane transfers and stop-overs.
– confirm your flight before you leave home, to ensure that there have been no changes to your flight schedule.
– take your dog for a walk shortly before you leave for the airport.
– will your dog need food during the flight? Ask your vet well in advance. Generally pet owners are advised to ensure that their dog starts the flight with an empty stomach, but with long flights food may be required, and it will vary depending upon your dog’s usual feeding schedule, your dog’s usual food, and your dog’s size and age.
– make sure your dog will have a good supply of water during the flight in order to keep him properly hydrated.
– arrive at the airport in plenty of time.
– toilet your dog just before you place him in the transport dog crate if at all possible. Enquire in advance whether there are facilities for your dog to toilet at the airport. If not, get your dog to go immediately prior to leaving for the airport, or stop enroute to the airport just before you get there.
– before boarding your dog, stay with him for as long as the airport staff will allow you to. And ask whether it is possible for you to personally deliver your dog to the gate.
– notify the flight staff once you board the plane that your dog is flying with you and that he is traveling in the cargo compartment (unless he’s with you in the passenger compartment, that is).
– upon arrival at your destination, go immediately to the baggage area to welcome your dog.