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Dog Ownership Etiquette Series Dog Friendly Flight Basics

Dog Ownership Etiquette Series Dog Friendly Flight Basics

The Dog Owner Etiquette Series Dog Friendly Flight Basics

Dogs have been flying on airplanes for years and many airlines have adopted pet-friendly policies to make travelling with pets easily accessible. Despite this, flying on an airplane with your dog is still a complicated and potentially daunting experience. Because travelling by plane can be quite stressful for your dog, its best to only bring them along when totally necessary.

The environment itself can negatively impact your dog due to the hundreds of random people, unrecognizable sounds, bright lights, air pressure and temperature changes and their inability to go outside to use the washroom. If you can, try leaving your pet with a loved one or check them into a dog-sitting facility. If not, flying with your pooch can be successful when you are prepared. To help, we’ve put together this article outlining the flight friendly basics when it comes to travelling with your dog and the things you should do to ensure you both have a smooth flight.

Picking the right flight & airline

When flying with your dog, you want to pick a non-stop flight if possible. This keeps your travel period short and uninterrupted, which will have less of an impact on your dog’s stress levels. Before booking your flight, you will also want to research your chosen airline’s flight policies when it comes to pets.

Air Canada and WestJet both allow pets on flights, but their guidelines are not identical. Next, you’ll want to confirm how much it’s going to cost to bring your pet along – this typically ranges anywhere from $50 – $120, depending on if it’s a domestic or international flight. Once you’ve found the right airline and flight to suit your needs, it’s time to get your pooch prepped!

Visit your vet

Its best practice to take your vet for a check-up before taking them on an airplane. Airplanes can cause significant stress along with other health risks – especially for dogs with pre-existing heart and kidney problems. Make sure your dog is up to date on all its vaccinations before traveling and discuss any issues or concerns with your vet ahead of time to put your mind at ease. You should also be aware that some destinations require valid rabies vaccination certificates and other certified documents from veterinarians.

Carry-on or cargo?

Depending on your dog’s size, you will need to determine if you can bring your dog into the cabin or if they need to travel in the cargo area of the plane. Smaller pets can be taken on as a carry-on and before your flight, you’ll need to purchase the right carrier. You will want a soft-sided carrier with ventilation on all sides, a leak-proof bottom and a size that allows your pet to stand and move around comfortably. If your dog will be travelling as cargo, you will need to get a proper crate.

This crate should consist of durable materials, strong handles and again, a leak-proof bottom. It’s also not a bad idea to post ‘Live Animal’ somewhere visible on the crate to ensure your dog is handled with care as you won’t be together boarding, during or exiting the flight. If your dog is travelling cargo, be aware that it could be quite a stressful situation and again, consider if bringing them is necessary.

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Prepare your dog

Ahead of your flight, make sure your dog has eaten four hours or more in advance. This will ensure they are not boarding the plane with a full stomach, and it will lower their chances of vomiting. Give yourself extra time to get to the airport and through security as the airline will have to check your pet in and go through all documents associated with their travel. Sometimes a vet will prescribe medication for dogs to fly, to keep their anxiety at a reasonable level so they can remain relatively relaxed. If this is the case, test out the medication on a day before your flight to see how your dog reacts.

Another great tip is if you’re worried about your dog’s anxiety, try placing a shirt of yours into their crate or carrier as your scent will help your pooch relax. On top of this, don’t forget to take them to use the washroom before entering the airport. All these things may seem like small steps but added together they play a significant role in having a successful travel day with your dog. It’s also a really good idea to pack some extra food in case your flight is delayed – and if your dog is in cargo, you can attach it to the outside of the crate for airline personnel to distribute to your pup if needed.

Prepare yourself

Always take a photo of your dog and the crate they are travelling in, if they are going into the airplane’s cargo area. Just like luggage, mix-ups can happen with dog crates, so you want to ensure you can properly identify them in the rare case they get lost. Next, it’s always a good idea to create a personalized checklist ahead of your flight to make sure you’ve packed everything you need for yourself and your dog. If you’re worried about your pup using the washroom during the flight, lay out a pee pad or towel in their crate or carrier. Lastly, remember to pack their leash and collar with you so once you exit the airplane you can take them out for a bathroom break immediately.

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