Flying with a dog or in fact any other pet can be pretty stressful. It’s normal to feel scared and worried. 

Arranging all the necessary documentation, getting the right reservations, all the proper documentation, it’s a hassle. And that’s before you even start flying. Dealing with your pet on the plane, or accommodating its trip, is trouble too.  

Well, part of flying safe and having a stress-free trip is being prepared and having a good plan. For this reason, we have written up the article below. You can find some tips and tricks on how to make your flight as easy and as stress-free as possible.

Talk to the professionals

First  of all – always talk to your chosen vet. Whether it’s learning the best approach for lowering your dog’s anxiety or simply checking whether it’s ready to fly, you should speak to your vet. You need to get a professional’s approval that your dog (or whatever pet you have) can actually handle the trip, both in terms of its destination, and the flight itself. Visit a vet a month or two in advance, get his approval, and see if you need to get another check-up very close to your trip. Note that some airlines require direct authorization from the veterinarian if your pet is to travel.

Avoid sedatives

Don’t give your pet tranquilizers before a trip. Tranqs can mess with your pet’s ability to regulate body heat at high altitudes. Talk to your vet, see if they have something smoother or gentler as far as lowering your pet’s anxiety is concerned.

Book in advance

The golden rule for all travel, one that goes for pets as well. Namely, an airline can only accommodate a limited number of pets, either because of cargo limitations or international law. The sooner you do this, the better, otherwise you can pretty much cancel your trip.

Get it used to your carrier

We advise you get your pet used to its carrier. The sooner you do this, the better it will handle the trip and will get minimal stress. Get the appropriate one – you want a good kennel for your dog, the right rabbit carrier if you got a bunny… It’s always best to go with specialized pet equipment.

Do this well in advance. You want your pet to think of its carrier as a safe place, as a pace that they can relax and hang out in. Put its favorite toy there, give it treats in there, and soon it will associate the carrier with positive things.

Keep your papers with you at all times

Always keep your pet’s health documents by your side. Airline staff members might ask for your papers, and keeping them close by will make everybody’s lives that much easier.

Are there any pet relief areas?

For longer trips, with layoffs, you want to seek pet relief areas. This allows your pet to stretch its legs, take a potty break, and get out of the carrier. Note that not all airlines have this and that furthermore, these might be only restricted to dogs.

Do your homework

Do your research. Airlines are putting more and more restrictions on certain breeds, and you might not be able to travel with your pet at all. For example, boxers and bulldogs commonly face limits on airlines. Some can allow you to fly with your pet in the cabin, and others might need to move them in restricted areas.

There is also homework tied to your pet. For example, you need to learn how to take care of an older dog, and how it will handle a trip. Does your dog have any inner ear or pressure problems?

Of course, you also want to make sure that the airlines know what they are doing. Sadly too many of them do not know how to do their work and don’t take proper care of your pets. To avoid a tragedy and trauma to your dog, we suggest you ask around, check some online forums and reviews.

See if you can board early

One of the many benefits of traveling with your pet is that you can most likely board early, all you have to do is ask. Since it takes some extra work to situate yourself and your pet on the plane, you not only can, but you should ask to board early.


Flying with your dog, traveling the world with your best friend, there is nothing like it. But, you need to approach it correctly. Keep an eye on your documentation, and keep your papers with you at all times. Do the research you need before you start on your journey, see if there are any pet relief areas, and prepare your pet for the trip. Listen to your vet’s advice, and you should be good to go.


Image 1: Brianna Santellan on Unsplash

Image 2: Airpets Relocation Service

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About the author

Jackie Brown, pet expert, has spent 13 years following her passion for animals as a writer and editor in the pet publishing industry. She is contributing writer for National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness: The Veterinarian’s Approach to At-Home Animal Care (April 2019) and author of the book It’s Raining Cats and Dogs.