Air Traveling with Dogs

Orville and Wilbur Wright they’re not. The closest most dogs want to get to the speed of sound is the low level flying they do as they tear across the park, leaping small creeks in a single bound. For some dogs, even that’s a bit too racy.

Dogs are happiest with four feet planted firmly on the ground. Air travel is stressful, and if your dog is traveling in the cargo hold, which is where most dogs are placed, you won’t have access to him. So you won’t be able to comfort him if he starts to feel a little queasy. At least make sure he has familiar blanket for both comfort and warmth.

As a rule, experts try to dissuade owners from taking their pets on airplanes. If it’s not possible to avoid flying, it is important that you prepare him for the air up there with all possible care.

Crate First:
An airline-approved pet crate is a must for taking your dog on the plane. Start preparing your dog at least a month before your trip, suggests John Hamil, D.V.M., a veterinarian in Laguna Beach, California. If he’s not already crate-trained, get him used to the crate he’ll be riding in by feeding him in it and encouraging him to sleep in it.

Health Check:
You will need to take your dog to the vet for a checkup and health certificate, says Dr. Hamil. Health certificates, says Dr. Hamil. Health certificates are required for all pets that are transported by air, and are usually valid for can interfere with your dog’s ability to cope with changes of temperature.

Ticket to Ride:
Be sure to make your reservations well ahead of time. A possible bonus of booking early is that your dog may be able to fly in the cabin with you, provided his carrier is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Since only one or two pets are usually allowed in the cabin on a flight, the earlier you make your reservation, the more likely you’ll be to secure one of these spots.

Book a nonstop flight, if possible and fly at a time of year and time of day when there is less likelihood of outdoor temperatures being hot. “For dogs in the cargo hold of a plane stuck on a runway, heat can be a killer,” says Dr. Hamil. By booking a direct flight, there is less likelihood that your dog will end up in this situation.
Flying Time:
Your dog should have nothing to eat for eight hours before the flight, and nothing to drink for two hours before. Get to the airport early. “Dogs are usually shipped as freight, which means you should check in two hours before you fly,” says Dr. Hamil. Make sure that he has a familiar cushion in his airline crate. Your name, address and your phone number should be written clearly on the crate, including your destination address in case there’s a mix-up
Once you’re on the plane, Dr. Hamil suggests that you advise the crew that there is a dog in the cargo hold and insist that they tell the pilot. Then, if something happens that could endanger your pet’s well being, such as the plane being held for some time on a hot runway, the pilot can arrange for your dog to be cared for.

If such a situation arises and you are worried about your friend below, don’t be afraid to speak up, says Dr. Hamil. Let the crew know that your dog’s safety is of the utmost importance to you.