When I made the move to North Carolina from New York last year, I was thrilled to bring my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Logan, with me on the plane. He wasn’t a huge fan of the plane ride and cried a bit, but mostly kept it together for the quick flight and received compliments from our seat mates. While I probably won’t be taking him around the world with me (he’s more of a homebody), I’m glad I prepared ahead of time to ensure we both had a comfortable trip. If you’re planning on flying with a small dog, here’s my advice to you!
Check that your carrier meets TSA and your airline’s standards.
Your pet carrier will need to fit under the seat in front of you. Make sure to check your individual airline’s size restrictions. The carrier should also be big enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down.
I used a Sherpa pet carrier (affiliate link) that worked wonderfully. It has breathable mesh sides and comes with a plush removable floor. It’s compliant with most airline’s standards, too!
Get your dog used to the carrier before your flight.
Your dog is much more likely to stay calm during your flight if he has already been introduced to the carrier. It’s important to build a positive association with the carrier, so lure him in with his favorite treats. Don’t close him in right away; instead leave the carrier open and let him come and go as he pleases.
Find out what the fees are for bringing your dog along.
Taking your dog in the cabin with you isn’t cheap – it can run you $100 or more depending on the airline. Find out what the charges are ahead of time and be prepared to pay when you check in. Better yet, factor in the cost of flying with your dog when you are shopping for your plane ticket.
Bring copies of your dog’s health and vaccine records, just in case.
This is especially important if you are traveling overseas, as every country will have its own procedures and requirements for animals. Find out what the requirements are for your destination as soon as possible. Some countries, like Japan, need you to start the process months in advance to avoid getting your pets quarantined. Get your dog updated on her shots and bring copies of her vaccination records along with your other travel documents. Better safe than sorry!
Make sure your dog is relaxed for the flight.
Nobody wants to be that person on a plane – take steps to keep your dog calm for the flight so you and your seat mates can travel in peace. One easy way to help with this is to give your dog something with your scent, like an old t-shirt, to hold onto in his carrier.
If your dog’s anxiety raises bigger concerns for you, talk to your vet to see if there are any other steps you can take. For example, your vet may recommend giving your dog some Benadryl to make him drowsy during the flight. Always check with your vet before giving your dog medication!
Bring something to keep your dog entertained, like a chew toy.
Airlines require your dog to stay inside the carrier for the entirety of the flight, meaning you won’t be able to take her out to play. To keep her entertained (and less likely to be disruptive) bring along one of her favorite toys. Avoid squeaky toys so that fellow flyers won’t be bothered by the noise.
If it’s a long flight, line your carrier with pee pads.
Even if your dog is housebroken, you never know when an emergency might strike. Putting pee pads at the bottom of the carrier will make for an easy clean-up in case anything does happen. Just wrap the pad up and toss it in the garbage, and you’ll save yourself the hassle of getting your carrier dirty or smelly.
Don’t forget to pack food and water!
If you’re on a shorter flight, you can get away with not packing food and feeding your dog beforehand. But you definitely should bring some water in a travel-friendly container. We love this spillproof water bowl by Lixit (affiliate link). While it’s not small enough to fit in a small carrier, you could offer your dog a drink right before you board and keep it with you for after you get off the plane. Remember to leave it empty as you go through security!
Look up your airport’s pet relief stations ahead of time.
Give your dog a chance to relieve himself immediately before and after your flight. Look up the location of your airports’ pet relief stations while you’re planning your trip, so you’re not left wandering around the airport looking for them. It’ll be one less thing for you to stress about!
Have you flown with your dog before?
Share your flying secrets in the comments!
Don’t forget to share this post with anyone who’s planning on flying with their dog soon!