A Guide to Flying with a Dog

  • 01/07/2021
can-dogs-fly.jpgIt can be fun for everyone to take your dog abroad – things are not going to be the same without the whole family.

Whether you're traveling to chillier climes or heading off to the beach, your dog is going to have a great time exploring new environments and seeing new places with you.

There are times when a holiday is going to involve getting on a plan. This doesn’t mean you cannot bring along your canine friend – they can be international jet-setters too. If you are going to do this, it is important to plan a lot in advance to make sure the traveling is smooth and stress-free.

Before you take the dog on a plane, you need to organize several things before getting to the airport. The good thing is most of the things involved with flying with a dog can be easily addressed, provided you do it in advance. It is a good idea to start preparing for the travel seven to eight months before the day. You have to visit a vet even if your dog is healthy. There are countries that are going to require health checks, vaccinations, or certificates before your dog can be allowed to get in.

Preparing when flying with a dog

Pet owners are always looking for a way of traveling with their dog on a plane and not deal with the hassle. Every journey requires some preparation.

If you start planning everything in advance, you don’t have much to worry about. Have a checklist to make sure you got everything covered, then be ready to enjoy your vacation with your travel companion.

Things to organize in advance

Contact the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) before you get started with your preparations.

DEFRA is going to tell you about the requirements you need to travel with your dog to the destination you are going to. Check out their website and know what you need.

When booking the flight, make sure you let the airline know you are going to travel with your dog. They are going to advise you on what you need to do. Visit the IATA website to find useful information that will help you when traveling with your pets.

The crate has to meet regulations before being allowed on the flight, make sure you sour it out. Don’t be stressed trying to find one at the last minute!

You also need to think about water bowls and food that are going to be attached to the front of the basket. You should choose something that is easy to top up from the outside and less likely to spill. The earlier you do this, the better everything is.

You should be familiar with the airline’s regulations. For example, be ready not to see your friend the entire journey because they don’t allow them in the cabin.

Go to your vet at least 7-8 months before the day of travel because there might be a specific vaccine or certificate requirements for the destination you are going to.

There are destinations that are going to ask for a health certificate 24 to 48 hours before the flight. Get your pet appointment early so you don’t have to do it last minute.

When you get a new crate, make sure to acclimatize your pet before the day of flying. This is going to reduce stress. Have the crate in your home environment with treats and a nice bed until your dog likes it there.

On the day

Before the day of the flight, make sure you put a small luggage tag on the collar to show your temporary residence you are going to stay in – you never know.

Ensure the information on the dog’s ticket is matching with yours. The last thing you want is to end up in different places.

Before you take your dog on the plane, inspect the tag attached to the container to make sure the information of your flight and dog is accurate.

Make sure you include water and food packs with the container -this sounds simple, but you put a huge dent in your plans if you forget. Dogs can get thirsty.

Make sure you have attached a24-hour feeding schedule and other important information. The travel carrier is going to need the information because you never know what might happen in the process.

Make sure you get to the airport on time, having done everything needed. Your dog should be fed earlier in the day, comfortable, well exercised, and relieved – minimize stress.

It is a good idea to avoid feeding the dog two to four hours before the journey because you don’t want them to deal with travel sickness. The dog is not going to be ill once you have gotten on the plane.

Flying with a guidance/assistance dog

Assistance or guide dogs can be allowed in the cabin with you on the majority of your flight. You and your canine friend are going to be placed on the front row, which will leave enough space for your dog to lie down. There is no paying any kind of fee to have your guide dogs with you.

If you are going to travel with your guide dog, make sure that you let the travel provider about this. Such requests are not usually dealt with online, which is why you need to have a lot of time before the flight to deal with them.

Check out the CAA website to learn more about traveling with a guide or assistance dog on a plane.

Other things to consider when you want to fly with a dog

Chat with the vet if you are concerned about the dog getting stressed during the journey. They can give you tips on keeping them more relaxed.

If you are renting a car the far end make sure you will be covered for a dog. Most  car hire excess insurance in Europe often covers this but it is best to check.

An option is a sedation, but there are drugs that can affect how the dog copes with changes in temperature; it can result in increased agitation. The vet is going to advise you on what can be done.

If sedation is considered before your travel, then it is important to test the protocol before the day of travel to make sure the dog is not going to face any serious effects.

It isn’t advised to travel with a dog under three months, an old, or ill dog (this might not be permitted). Think about how they are going to cope.

If you are traveling with more than one dog, get a crate for each (the carrier might ask you to do this). It is common for friends to be agitated with each other when traveling a long distance.

You should try your best to make the travel simple. Try to get a direct flight or minimize the connecting flights because it is not fun to move them between planes.

The timing of your flight is also important because you want to avoid getting to the destination when it is too cold or very hot. You don’t want the dog to be surprised when you arrive.

If you are traveling with your pet to Europe, The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) can help you out. Visit their website to learn more about traveling with a pet and how you can make things easier for yourself.

Not all flights can carry pets, which can sometimes mean having to travel on a different flight to your pet.

When you check the airline policies about flying with a dog, it is important to document all the conversations because they might be needed. Cover yourself by doing that because you never know what might happen.

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