A whopping 95% of pet owners consider their furry friends to be part of the family. So, if you need to move across the country or go on an extended trip, the thought of leaving Fluffy or Fido behind can be unbearable.
Luckily, flying with pets has become more commonplace over the years. But that doesn’t mean your dog is ready for the journey.
Before you leave, make sure you take the proper steps to prepare for your first dog on a plane experience.
Do you want to know how? Keep reading to learn more!
Get the Right Crate
While it’s tempting to use whatever crate you already have at home to transport your pooch, you may want to consider upgrading.
Make sure you read your airline’s rules about pet carriers. You may need to downsize a bit, if possible, so your dog can travel with you as a carryon instead of alone in cargo.
There are also special TSA-approved carriers that can help ensure you get through security without any problems.
Of course, you also want your pet to be comfortable. So, make sure the crate is big enough to allow your dog to move around a little. If you have a hard crate, consider putting your pet’s favorite blanket on the bottom to add some cushion and help them feel comforted.
If you haven’t already, you’ll want to make sure your dog is crate trained. Since they’ll need to stay in their cage for a few hours during the flight, do a test run by crating them at home for the length of the flight. Be sure to give them treats during this time to keep them happy and avoid making them feel anxious or trapped.
You’ll also want to make sure your dog is trained not to bark or whine.
Most importantly, you’ll want to ensure they can relieve themselves on command and hold their bladder for several hours. The airport’s pet relief area will likely be equipped with fake grass, so make sure your pet is able to go on different surfaces.
Play Airplane Sounds
If you’ve ever flown before, you know how loud it can be during takeoff and landing. Get your pup used to these sounds beforehand by playing a recording of airplane sounds for them. Consider playing this recording while crate training, so they get used to the whole experience.
Get Your Paperwork in Order
You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the airline’s pet policy as well as any necessary paperwork that needs to be filled out. Depending on where you’re flying, you may need to obtain a pet passport or a health certificate.
Since pet policies are rapidly changing, make sure you verify with the airline that you have all the required paperwork a couple of weeks before the flight. You could also hire a pet transportation company to help you with this process.
Go to the Vet
It’s important to make an appointment with your vet to give your dog a checkup before you leave. This ensures that your dog is healthy and able to fly without posing any major concerns.
This is also a good opportunity to make sure their vaccinations are up to date and to get them microchipped. If your pup suffers from anxiety or you don’t think they would handle air travel very well, you can also ask about sedatives that will help them sleep during the flight.
Tire Them Out
Is your dog always ready to play? Unfortunately, that means they’ll have a ton of pent up energy when sitting in a crate all day.
Make sure you give them plenty of exercise by jogging or going on an extra-long walk before you leave for the airport. Not only does this let them release their energy, but it can help tire them out so they’ll sleep while on the plane.
Don’t Feed Them Too Much
What goes in, must come out. To prevent accidents from occurring on the plane, make sure you monitor your dog’s food and water intake.
If you have a late flight, feed them like normal during the day so they don’t feel stressed before they even leave the house. But try not to feed your pup for at least three hours before your flight. This way, they’ll have plenty of time to digest their last mean and go potty before you board the plane.
You want your dog to stay hydrated, but you don’t want them to lap up an entire bowl of water right before you board. So, after you take your dog out to relieve themselves for the last time, try to limit their water intake.
The best way to ensure you and your pet get onto the plane with minimal stress is to arrive at the airport early. You’ll have to take your pet out of the carrier for the security screening, so you may want to request a private room if you think your dog will try and bolt as soon as the cage door opens.
Depending on how busy the airport is, getting a private room may take a little while. It may also take longer to check your pet’s paperwork.
You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to get through security and still have some time leftover before you board. This ensures you can take your pup on one last potty break at the airport’s pet relief area.
Taking Your Dog on a Plane
Flying is a scary experience for pets. But you can make this easier on them by following the above tips for taking your dog on a plane. From getting the right crate to arriving at the airport early, there are plenty of ways to reduce stress for your pup.
Do you need help organizing a big move with a pet? Check out our list of services to see how we can help transport your furry friend by air or land.