With summer approaching, many of us pet parents are planning our vacations. We never love leaving our fur babies behind– and we dream of bringing them along for a summer getaway. But if you’re flying to your destination, it can be a tad complicated bringing your dog along, so it’s critical to do research first on how to fly with a dog. What are the laws? How much does it cost? Will they be okay? Never fear, doting pet parents, we’re here to make it easy for you.
Here’s our guide to flying with your dog, and everything you need to know before you go!
How to Fly with Your Dog
1. Should your dog fly?
Before you book a flight for your pooch, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your dog’s health and temperament to avoid a possibly traumatizing experience for everyone involved. If your dog is sick, in heat, frail or pregnant, they should stay at home. You should also carefully consider your dog’s temperament before bringing them to a busy airport and on an airplane. If your pooch tends to be vocal, anxious, nervous, high strung, or is known to nip or bite, it’s probably best to leave them at home.
2. Know the government’s rules.
Check out the Department of Transportation’s Traveling with Animals website and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Flying with Pets website for complete details on the government’s rules for flying with dogs. Here you’ll learn everything from airport security requirements, to rules for pets in the passenger cabin.
3. Know your airline’s rules.
In addition to government regulations, each airline dictates their own rules for proper handling of the dogs they transport, including container policies and fees for flying with dogs. For example, Delta charges $125 one way for a dog to travel as carry-on baggage. Your pup must comfortably fit in a kennel that can slide under the seat directly in front of you. On Delta, only four dogs are allowed in the main cabin at once, so you should make arrangements in advance. Larger pups need to fly via Delta Cargo, with prices varying depending on weight.1
Here are links to information from the largest domestic airlines:
4. What about service dogs and emotional support animals?
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, service dogs are working animals, not pets. This means any service dog can ride with their partner in the cabin, free of charge, without being confined in a container. Typically, you’ll simply to provide either an animal ID card, harness and tags, or verbal assurance that your dog is in fact a service animal.
Emotional support animals fall under a similar classification, and can also travel free of charge and out of their container, with their passenger. However, you’ll need to show documentation dated within one year to validate that you require a service animal on your trip, and will usually need to submit this to the airline prior to your departure. Make sure to confirm the necessary paperwork and deadline for submitting it with the airline you’ll be flying on.
5. What to bring on board for your pup.
If your pooch is flying with you in the cabin, remember that he’s considered your “carry-on.” Most airlines also allow an additional personal item, so you’ll need to pack your pup a few things in this small bag. A bottle for water (don’t fill it up until you get through security), a couple days’ worth of food, treats, and a couple favorite toys will suffice, just in case your luggage with the rest of your doggie gear gets lost in transition. You should also bring a health certificate for your dog on board with you, even if your airline doesn’t require it. This certificate certifies your dog is healthy enough for travel, and is up on their vaccinations. You can get this from your vet, so remember to do it ahead of time.
6. It’s time to fly!
You won’t be able to take your dog out of their container once you get to the airport, except to go through security, so before you head to the airport, take your dog on a long walk and play a bit. If you’re lucky, your pup will be worn out and calmly sleep through the flight.
Don’t feed your pup their meal before the flight, and take away their water bowl a couple hours before departure. This will keep your dog comfortable and help avoid potty accidents during the flight.
You can also line your dog’s container with DryFur travel pads, which will wick away any accidental moisture. During the flight, you’ll need to give your pup a little water to avoid dehydration, but not so much that they’re stuck without a patch of grass to use. Some pup parents ask their flight attendant for ice cubes to keep their dog hydrated.
7. Have fun!
Once you know the ins and outs of how to fly with you dog, all that’s left to do is enjoy exploring your destination with your furry best friend! And of course, don’t forget to pack your dog’s NomNomNow meals for the journey.
Did you know that your dog’s healthy NomNomNow dog food can be sent to a new address each week, at no additional charge? Sign up for the doggy meal plan that all traveling pet parents love.
*Delta policies are current as of April 20, 2017, and subject to change.