Small Dogs on the Go: Some Airline Travel Tips

Exploring new places with your dog is a rewarding and bonding experience. But for some, flying provokes anxiety. Planning, preparation, and a few helpful tips can make the experience easier.

Call ahead   Pet policies vary with each airline so it’s best to call ahead.  Be informed about your specific airline’s rules with regard to size, weight and breed requirements. Small dogs, typically 15 pounds or under, can usually be crated under the seat in a pet carrier. Some airlines specify that the combined weight of the dog and the carrier cannot exceed 20 pounds. Also be prepared to pay extra fees that are usually paid at counter check-ins.  For example, American Airlines charges $125 per carrier, one way.

Carriers   Dogs must stay in a carrier for the entire flight, so when purchasing, make sure it’s big enough for your dog to stand, lie and turn comfortably and that it follows the airline’s specific rules. It should be well ventilated and cushioned with a pillow or mat.  A water bottle is optional, but monitoring your dog’s fluid intake is important to prevent dehydration. Some carriers come with removable fleece beds for easy cleaning. Others have wheels that make walking through the airport much easier.  Add a favorite toy, and rub your scent on it to make your dog feel more secure. Always include ID with your name, address, phone number and a live animal label that has your pet’s name and photo.

Inquire about health certificates   Most airlines require proof of vaccinations to ensure that a dog is current with his shots and healthy enough to fly. International flights and some states like Hawaii, may also require a health certificate that states your dog was examined by a vet within 10 days of flying.

Take direct flights and book early   Direct flights help to minimize the stress of multiple take-offs and landings and prevent unwanted stretches on a tarmac.  Since airlines restrict the number of pets in a cabin, booking early will ensure that your dog has a spot.

Explore all your options   If you are still uncomfortable with the prospect of flying with your dog, there are many ground transportation services such as TLC Pet Transport, which will deliver your dog via minivan to destinations nationwide. Companies such as Animal Airways can help you to find travel solutions and address your concerns.

When you finally reach your destination, make sure to check out the BarkHappy app for pet-friendly hotels. You can also access eateries, parks, trails and events in your locale to maximize the fun you share with your dog. Post your travel photos to Facebook and Instagram tagged #BarkHappy and share your dog’s travel adventures.