If you're flying with a dog for the first time,you'll want to be totally prepared to make the experience as seamless as possible for both you and your pooch. Here are a few tips to get you started on creating the best jet-setting pet ever.
Sizing it Up
First, you'll need to make sure your pup is small enough to travel alongside you in the airplane's cabin. Most airlines require that your dog and her carrier combined are no more than 20 pounds. Plus, your pup's carrier will have to fit under the seat in front of you, so be sure to choose an airline-approved bag. The airlines themselves often sell themand established carrier brands like Sherpa will indicate which of their products are ready to fly. If your dog requires one of the larger approved carriers, it's best to find one with a flexible structure so it fits under the seat in more aircrafts.
Beyond that, you'll want to make sure your dog is comfortable in her carrier. Be sure she has room to easily turn around and won't be trapped in one position the entire flight. It should also be comfortable enough for you to tote through an airport, so be sure to try before you buy and see if you're happiest with a backpack, duffel bag, or roller bag style.
Plan for Success
Planning for a successful experience when flying with a dog is not too hard once you know the steps. You'll want to make sure your pup is used to the carrier beforehand, so start giving all her treats inside the open bag and slowly work up to closing her inside it with you nearby. By the time your travel day comes up, she should be quite familiar with the routine.
Rather than just booking a flight with your dog, take into consideration flying time and layovers. Direct flights are obviously the easiest option, but they're not always available and could be way more expensive. Is your pup prepared to "hold it" for 8 hours at a time? If not, you may want to consider pee pad training her for overlay bathroom breaks, book a flight with a stop long enough to visit the pet relief area (usually in the international terminal), or leave the airport altogether for a break. Also, absorbent inserts can be purchased for your pet carrier if you're afraid your pet may have an accident in-flight.
Make a reservation with the appropriate airline and check with them about what documentation you may need to bring along (generally domestic flights do not require any sort of vaccination). Be prepared to pay about $100 each way for her to travel with you. Pack like a Pro
The best pup packing lists make sure you and your dog are prepared for anything!
These are some must-haves, but be sure to think hard about anything specific to your dog, too:
▢ Dog food! Pack enough for your full trip, plus a couple extra days. If you're checking a bag with most of her food inside, be sure to take at least a couple of days worth in the cabin in case your bag is lost or delayed. Freeze-dried raw food like Stella & Chewy's, Primal or Instinct are amazing lightweight options when flying with a dog.
▢ Toys. If Fido's not a toy-wrecker and has a favorite small toy, you can put it inside the carrier for comfort. Bring 2 or 3 total for maximum fun, and try to get some variation with options like a ball, rope toy, and stuffed animal. If you're like us, you'll be coming home with more dog stuff than you left with, anyway!
▢ Gear. Headed to a winter wonderland? Your pup might need a sweater or even some booties if that's her thing. Beach-bound? Doggy sunscreen and a life jacket could be in order. Off to the wooded wilderness? You guessed it! Wondercide's Flea & Tick Control for Pets + Home ought to be in that suitcase. Whatever your destination, do your best to think of the activities your pup may be joining in on, and pack accordingly!
▢ Treats & chews. Don't forget healthy treats & chews to keep your pup happy and busy during the flight and trip. Positive reinforcement with snacks can help your pet feel more secure in a new place. Also, be sure to always supervise your dog when she's gnawing down on any chew!
▢ Health stuff. Is your dog on vitamins or supplements? Sometimes need pain meds?Pack any extras she might need on the trip and put together a nice doggy first aid kit (we add some skin tonic spray in ours!), too. If you're worried about your dog being too rambunctious on the flight, you may also give an appropriate dose of Benadryl (make sure there are NO other ingredients) to help them rest: 1mg per pound of your dog's body weight. If you go that route, do make sure to do a test run before the flight, as some pups can actually getmore hyper on Benadryl!
Gearing up for Go-Time
The best ways to prepare for travel day include exercise and appropriate feeding schedules. If you're leaving at the crackof dawn, your pup may not need to eat until you arrive at your destination. Otherwise, be sure to time feedings to leave room for bathroom breaks before you head to the airport. Exercising before the flight with a nice game of fetch or a long walk will help your dog stay sleepy on the plane and ensure she's not too restless.
Just like you check for your own essentials – boarding pass, ID, keys & wallet – before leaving the house, make sure you have at least the necessities for Fido as well. Food, a bowl, a leash, and any paperwork would be enough to make it through the flight, and you could always visit a pet store at your destination if necessary!
Most of all, be prepared to have a lot of fun. Because traveling, like life, is so much better with a dog at your side!