Our dogs Dolce Vita and Reddington - two Morkies

5 Tips to Prepare You for Traveling with a Dog on a Plane

Traveling with a dog can always be a little bit stressful. Whether you are in a car or on a plane there are a different set of problems.  When you are in your car at least you have control over the environment. Whereas when you go on a plane it’s an entirely different set of rules. Travel enthusiasts or first-time fliers face the same set of problems. How can you be better prepared when you travel? Below we list 5 tips to prepare you for traveling with your dog on a plane.

Get a Check-up

Before you travel on any long trip with your dog, you should stop by your vet. Getting a check-up to make sure that they are healthy to fly is important. You also want to grab a copy of your pet’s immunization records. Most airlines require a health certificate that is issued 7-10 days before you fly. Airlines vary in their pet policies, so you will need to check directly with the airline you’ll be using.

There are also a lot of breeds that have difficulty in the air, specifically those that are short-nosed. In fact, in 2010 the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that short-nosed dogs have a higher risk of dying on airplanes. So, many airlines are refusing to accept brachycephalic breeds. Some of which include boxers, Boston terriers, and pugs. United, American, and Delta airlines banned snub-nosed breeds on flights due to the numerous health issues.

Selecting an Airline

As we mentioned earlier, many airlines don’t allow certain breeds on their flights. There are also other airlines that refuse to ship dogs in their cargo. So, unless your dog is a smaller size they won’t be able to travel. It will take a little bit of research on your part, but you should be able to find some solution for your dog’s travel. If you choose to fly by private charter you can fly with your pet in the cabin, regardless of the breed or size. However, these flights can be very expensive.

Our dog Reddington, golden Morkie
Our dog Reddington, golden Morkie

How will your dog be traveling?

When you travel with your dog it’s recommended that you fly with your pet in the cabin of the plane. However, for a dog to be able to ride in the cabin they must be under 20 pounds with the ability to fit under the seat in front of you. Airlines also limit the number of pets that are allowed to ride in the cabin. You will be riding with other passengers that could have pet allergies. To eliminate any potential conflicts, there are only a certain number of pet slots that are available.

When dogs do ride in the cargo they are exposed to more extreme temperatures and conditions. Airlines will also refuse to fly pets in the cargo if the temperatures fall too low or are too high during a flight. The number one concern is the safety and health of your dog as well as the other passengers.

If you decide to travel with your dog in the cabin, then we recommend having a dog sling carrier in your pet bag. Suitable for small dogs, this is a way to hold your dog close to you to comfort them and relieve their anxiety. You generally can’t have your dog out of their carrier on the plane or in the airport, but when you can a sling will come in handy.  

Preparing your dog for travel

Now that you have selected your airline, you need to prepare your dog for travel. When flying your dog in cargo they need to have an IATA-compliant dog carrier. These crates should be large enough for your pet to stand in and turn around comfortably, have metal nuts and bolts, secured food and water bowls, air holes, visible paperwork, and absorbent lining.

Once you select your crate, make sure to practice crating your dog before a flight. If your pet is already crate trained this will be an easier process than a dog that’s not used to a crate. It’s also a good idea to have a water bottle clipped to the inside of the crate to ensure your pet doesn’t get dehydrated during the flight.  

Morkie dressed to travel
Dolce Vita dressed to travel
Reddington my Morkie dog and me
Redding and me

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What to do on travel day

With your pet secured in its crate, you need to go through the checkpoints in the airport. If your dog is flying in the cabin you will check the crate in with your luggage at the counter. When your dog is flying in the cargo you will need to ask your airline where to drop off your dog. You might end up heading to the cargo terminal to drop off and pick up your dog.

Finally, try to alleviate your pet’s stress by booking flights that have no layovers. Remember, you can always talk to any flight personnel if you’re having an issue with your dog. If something doesn’t feel right, you should say something! With these tips you can improve your pet’s experience while they fly on any airplane.

  • Jordan F.

Jordan started Natural Dog Owner, a website dedicated to eliminating the headache that comes with developing a healthy and loving relationship between you and your dog. His main goal is to help give your four-legged family member the best quality of life imaginable. When he’s not in front of a computer he loves to spend time outdoors with his Goldendoodle, Carl, sharing stories and interacting with other dog lovers.


It can be stressful traveling with your pet.  So here are 5 tips to prepare you for traveling with a dog on a plane. Find out what you need; crate, carry on bag, food, water.  Everything to help make your dog feel safe and both of you not so stressed in the airport and on the plane.  #dogtravel #dogonplane

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