How to Fly With Your Dog – Check List

How to Prepare Your Dog for a Flight: Pet parents who frequently relocate have a hard time to not only adjust with the new locations but have a hard time relocating their pet pals. Relocating a pooch within the country is an easier process as not many enforcements hinder the process. On the other hand, relocating a pet overseas each time is a new experience as every country has their own set of rules and regulations one needs to follow. This article will give a full insight into considerations and preparations one can take while flying with a pet internationally or locally.

Travel arrangements for pet flying 

This section will explain the prearrangements one needs to make when one plans to take its pet overseas.

Research and zero on pet-friendly airlines 

Many airlines have size restrictions that dictate pet travel. 

Small dog breeds can fly along with the parents in the cabin in a carrier that will fit under the seat. Larger dogs will likely have to be checked in as baggage or cargo.

One needs to train the dog to stay for long hours in its carrier separated from its owners and in new conditions. This is a stressful situation for both the pet as well as its parents.

Book pet tickets in advance of the departure date 

Airlines have a limit to the number of pets they allow per flight, so one needs to block their tickets in advance. If one purchases the ticket through the phone make sure to inform the customer care about the pet travel and if one book the tickets online, please contact the customer care post the booking.

Note: The airlines will notify the traveler of the pet fee over the phone post advance booking and one will only need to pay the fee on the travel date during the check-in.

Check for carrier compliance of the pet-friendly airline

Calvin goes to Australia !

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Different airlines will have specified requirements for small carriers in-cabin or check-in travel. Call the airline or check on their website to get the knowledge of the carrier requirement and see if the carrier you have suited it or invest in a new one.


# Generally, all airlines ask for carriers wherein a dog at a minimum, should be able to stand up, sit down, and turn around completely inside the carrier, regardless of whether it’s being checked or carried on.

#Soft-sided carriers are generally permissible only for in-cabin travel. Checked carriers need to be made of hard material such as plastic or metal and should also have adequate ventilation built in.

# Some airlines sell pet carriers through their catalogs or online stores that are generally pre-checked for compliance by them. 

# One carrier may or may not suit all airlines as different airlines have different requirements.

Prepare the dog for flying

This section explains the various steps that one needs to check on while preparing one’s pooch for flying.

Check if the dog fits the air travel considerations

Not all dogs are given a green signal to fly in airlines. In general, air travel is not recommended for puppies under eight weeks, elderly dogs, or sick dogs fly both in-cabin or as cargo. 

Bulldogs and pugs are not good candidates for cargo travel of the airplane as they are short-nosed dogs and are also seen to run the risk of overheating. Refrain from risking the dog’s health and safety when it is not fit for air travel.

Note: Unfriendly dogs toward strangers should not be air shipped as the dog will be handled by airport security or the crew loading the checked bags during the travel. A minute bruising or bite will not only land the pet in trouble but will put a pet parent also in big trouble.

Pet carrier introduction and training prior to the travel 

Plan the travel only after the pet is carrier or crate trained or in short time notice make the pet comfortable with its carrier at least a week before. 

Crate trained dogs just need to get used to the feel and smell of the carrier if one decides to invest in a new one. Practice the crate training procedure of leaving the dog locked in a crate for longer periods. 

If the dog is not crate trained, initiate the training process. As the pet needs to be comfortable being left alone in its crate without panicking or frequently going to the bathroom.

Note:  Even dogs flying with their pet pals in the cabin need to stay under the seat, hence training it to be comfortable in its carrier is an utmost priority.

Practice the dog to be comfortable to be carrier handled

Once the fido is comfortable in its crate, one needs to train it to adjust to new sounds and motions. This can be done by taking the dog for a car ride while it is in its carrier. This journey or action is seen to help it get used to the motion of transport. 

Note: One can take the help of their friends and family to carry the dog in its carrier so that it will get used to other people handling it. 

Habituate with recordings of airport sound

Practice the dog to the normal noises one can hear at the airport by playing recordings of people bustling, announcements, and planes taking off and landing. Play these tracks twice or thrice a week leading up to the travel date. One can find recordings of crowds and airport noises by browsing the internet.

Note: Getting the pet pal acquainted with new sounds will help the dog to not panic while traveling a long distance.

Collection of the required pet documents for travel

Obtain a health certificate for the pal

Procure a health certificate of the pet from a vet stating it is free from infectious disease and healthy enough to travel. The certificate should contain details of its vaccination and any country-specific vaccine if needed. This certificate is valid for a week from the date of issue. Hence plan accordingly an obtain one prior to the travel date. This certificate will be reviewed and stamped by an official when the pet enters the country intended to

Note: This health certificate is valid for four months if one’s pet is traveling within the UK. 

Procure a pet passport for the pet

Many vets have the right to provide a pet passport. Contact one such vet and get a pet passport issued for the dog. One should check that the vet has entered the following information in the passport correctly and clearly: 

  • The details of ownership, including the full owner’s name(s);
  •  A full description of the pet;
  • Microchip information; 
  • Confirmation of vaccination (any special vaccines prescribed by the country intended for entry), if applicable.


# The vet check needs to be performed at the time specified by the travel certificate, doing it prior to that will be waste as the certificate will turn invalid. The rabies vaccine takes 30 days to take effect, so performing a rabies blood test during this period will provide a negative result.

# Make at least two copies of the dog’s paperwork to take with one during the travel. Retain one copy with self, while boarding documents and tape another one on the dog’s carrier.

Check with the vet for sedation if the pet doesn’t like to travel 

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Un sedated dogs are safer travelers as their senses are still sharp. If the dog struggles traveling and is a good candidate for a sedative the vet will prescribe a right dose of sedative for the pet.


#Factors that can make a dog travel uncomfortable include motion sickness, separation anxiety, or panicking when meeting new folks.

# Some dogs also can be calmed by using the over-the-counter calming supplement. Experts recommend consulting the vet prior to administering any new medications or supplements to the pooch.

# Test the new sedative that is going to be induced while traveling in advance. This will give an idea for any adverse reactions that might occur during traveling.

Get the dog microchipped 

Implanting a microchip is one of the safest ways to trace the dog in case it gets misplaced or escapes away. 

When the dog escapes the airport authorities or vets will be able to scan the microchip and get information to contact the microchip’s registry, where they can get access to the pet parent’s contact information.

Pet air travel

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This section provides insights on what an owner should do before the pet begins its air travel in cargo or with you in the cabin.

Walk the dog before departing to the airport

A dog is going to be in its carrier for a long time period hence one should allow the pet to stretch and burn off its maximum energy before it goes into the carrier. Workouts like long walks run, jogs, or long play sessions will help to exhaust the dog easily.

Stick to the dog’s regular scheduled mealtimes 

As closely as possible, feed the dog its meals on the time. If the dog is traveling along with the pet parents in the cabin experts recommend carrying a dish and a day’s worth of food with them. Check to see if the dog eats on time prior to and after checking in.


#Refrain from feeding the dog at least three hours prior to travel unless a vet prescribes to. This will enhance the digestion process and will also help in eliminating accidents too during the travel.

#For checked in dogs, one will need to provide a food dish clipped onto the carrier door and a bag of food taped to the outside of the crate. This will help the airline employees to feed the dog without opening the crate.

# Frequent travelers are advised to invest in a collapsible dog dish as these are weightless, easy to clean on-the-go and occupies less space.

Provide easy access to water and check if the dog drinks enough water 

The dog should have access to clean, freshwater during the day of travel. One can clip a water bowl to the inside of the carrier or hold the bowl for the dog so that it drinks water every 30 minutes prior to the travel.

Checked carriers will be required to have a water bowl or bottle attached. The bowl may be empty during the ride to the airport and in transit, but it needs to be full the rest of the time.

Note: Attach a note on the carrier to check for water in the bowl in cases where the dog is traveling in the check-in.

Check in the furry friend at the airline’s ticket counter at the airport

Though online check-in can be done prior to the flight, yet one will still need to check in the pet at the ticket counter for attaching tags on the pet’s carrier for its clearance past the security or to be dropped at the cargo. One needs to pay the pooch travel fee at this point.

Note: To minimize last moment check-in stress experts recommend reaching the airport at least one hour earlier than the airline recommended time

Take the pet for a final elimination break before security 

Take the pet pal to the airport pet relief area prior to going through the security or over to cargo. This gives it a chance to take one last pee and poo break. Do this after the check-in and before the security checks as this the closest check before the takeoff.

Note: An airport employee will guide any owner or a traveler with a pet to locate the designated pet relief area at any airport. 

Upon arrival at the destination

Prior to the dog’s arrival in check-in and pickup, one should enquire about the pet elimination area as the pet will require one as soon as it is received. For dogs traveling in the cabin consider taking care of the dog immediately before collecting the luggage and arranging for a ride from the airport.

Arrange or look for a ride that is pet friendly. Many local, as well as renowned cab companies, are pet-friendly but with some exceptions.

Post a long journey the pet requires extensive workouts to stretch its muscles, hence get ready to train hard or higher a dog walker for this purpose. Stock in pet food until one finds the specific dog food brand of an individual’s choice or order some online and ship to the destination prior to arriving.

Tips for a safe pet air travel

1. One can take a recent picture of their dog along with them and post a picture of the dog with its details on the top of the carrier. As in cases of emergency, this will help one to easily identify its pet.

2.  Try to take direct flights and avoid connecting flights if possible as there are higher chances of the dog being left behind. If one has a connecting flight, alert all flight attendants to the situation so that one can have an expedited exit.

3. If the worst cases where the connecting time is less one can take the dog to the restrooms in the airplane to save time.

Pet Travel FAQs

Q. Should one quarantine a dog breed while relocating it to a new country?

A. It depends on the country from which the dog is arriving, each country has different rules and regulations. Please check with the respective countries.

Q. Is it necessary to use a travel service or can one ship the pet by themselves? 

A. One can ship the pet by themselves, but a lot of research and time needs to be spent on it. A pet travel service will make the process easier and hassle free but at a cost that one should be ready to bear.

Q. Can one authorize someone else to take their dog to another country?

A. Yes, one can authorize someone else to bring their dog overseas. Many pet travel services work this way.

Q. Can one register the pet as emotional support animals during air travels?

A. To avoid the fee and inconvenience of checking an animal, airline passengers often register their pets as “emotional support animals or ESAs”. For this, passengers require to furnish a letter from a mental health professional saying the pet performs a necessary function for its owner. Nowadays many online service providers also help to get an ESA.

Q. Is one allowed to bring another pet and a dog in an economy- or first-class cabin?

A. Yes it is permitted, but every airline has different rules and regulations about pet travel, so enquire about these before blocking the ticket for travel.



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Yeshwanthi Kamalraj
Yeshwanthi Kamalraj is a freelance copy editor, Pet sitter, and content writer who mainly focuses on scientific journals and health-related web pages. Before becoming a freelance content writer Yeshwanthi worked for Cenveo publishers as document analyst for various science journals published by Taylor and Francis Journals and later continued as a freelance copyeditor for the same publishers. Post marriage in 2009 Yeshwanthi developed a keen interest in pets after her husband and she brought a labrador puppy home. This interest helped her to explore a new niche of the pet sitting world whose journey is still on. Yeshwanthi is a dog lover who in her freetime enjoys listening to music, cooking, and meeting new people.


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