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Your Go-To Guide on Flying With Pets

Dog sitting next to airplane at airport.

Traveling is fun, and it can be even better when you bring your pet along for the adventure. However, there’s a lot you need to prepare for if you’re thinking about adding your furry friend to the trip. It’s best to be proactive and start the process well in advance before your travels to ensure your trip is a success. This process can be tricky and confusing, so we’ve constructed a go-to guide to make it easier!

Cargo Traveling

When bringing your pet on your trip, one traveling option is for your pet to travel in the cargo area of the plane. If opting for this option, you’ll want to ensure the kennel is well prepared for takeoff. For larger dogs, it could be tempting to get a kennel with wheels for easier transportation, but we recommend against this as we don’t want your dog to roll off an inclined conveyor belt in transit.

You’ll also want to make sure the crate has water and food bowls attached to the door where the airline crew will have easy access for refills. To be extra cautious, you can provide extra dry food in a freezer bag and attach it to the side of the crate just in case.

If your dog or cat isn’t well adjusted to their crate yet, we recommend getting them comfortable with it weeks before your flight. This helps decrease any anxiety or stress they may have during the flight. You can keep the kennel open for them, add some treats inside, or put in some familiar smells like one of your worn T-shirts.

In-Cabin & Service Pets

Every airline will have different restrictions and regulations for traveling in-cabin with your pet. Please check ahead of time with your airline of choice to ensure you make the proper arrangements.

Having the proper crate to fly in the cabin is crucial. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in while also fitting under your seat. You’ll need a maximum size for hard-sided kennels of 17.5 inches long by 12 inches wide by 7.5 inches high, or 18 inches long by 11 inches wide by 11 inches high for a soft-sided kennel.

Service and emotional support pets will need proper documentation to be allowed in the cabin as such. They will need a letter from your physician submitted to the airline no later than 48 hours before your flight. Check with your airline, but for the most part, this letter should state the reason for the service pet and provide the medical license of the animal. Such pets will be allowed on your lap or by your feet.

Health & Safety Precautions

Some airlines will require proper documentation of your pet’s vaccination record or a certificate of good health. As mentioned above, contact your airline to confirm what documentation you’ll need. Regardless, you might want to have these documents on hand just in case.

You’ll also need to check out the entrance regulations for the country or city you’ll be entering. You may need to quarantine your pet or provide specific documentation upon entry to certain international flights. The sooner you find out these details, the sooner you can schedule any appointments with your local vet.

Make sure your pet has any medication they need before the flight, and if they suffer from anxiety, you may want to provide them with anxiety medication.

Remember to go on a long walk with your furry friend so that they can do their “business” before the flight. Some airports have pet elimination areas where you can take them in-between flights. If possible, select flights with no stops to make it easier on your pet.

You know what’s best for your pet, so if at any point you feel you’re being forced to do something that doesn’t feel right by a crew member or gate agent, ask to speak to a supervisor immediately.

Finally, make sure to pack all of your furry pal’s essentials, including food, water, treats, and favorite toys.

Want more information or need a professional vet to help with vaccinations? Give Germantown Vet a call at (240) 252-7467 to schedule an appointment!


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