I recently took Chelsea on her first flight, and like the crazy dog mom I am, it took me weeks to prepare for our trip. It took me several years to even consider flying with my pup, so I wanted to make sure she was safe and comfortable. Chelsea is a short-nosed dog, which can lead to a whole different set of issues while flying, so it’s safe to say I did a ton of research prior to our flight and I’m ready to share them with you here!
Follow these tips when flying with your pup to ensure they have a safe and comfortable trip.
If you’re nervous about how your pup will handle being on a plane, start with a short flight. For Chelsea’s first plane trip, I chose to take her to my second home in Dunedin, Florida which is just a two-hour flight from New York. This reassured me knowing that if she was anxious or unhappy on the plane that it wouldn’t be for very long.
Yes, I’m a crazy dog mom but knowing how to perform CPR on your dog is essential before taking them on a plane. While pressurization systems will adjust the cabin pressure throughout the flight, there is little research on how this affects short-nosed dogs such as pugs and bulldogs.
Many airlines have even banned short-nosed breeds from flying, as medical issues on flights are common. Since Chelsea is only half-pug, her breathing issues aren’t as severe as they are with other breeds, but I learned how to do CPR just in case.
If your pup has a medical emergency on the plane, the flight attendants aren’t obligated to help. Some airlines state on their website that they won’t provide oxygen to your pup in case of an emergency, so it’s essential to be prepared to handle an emergency on your own. Knowing how to perform CPR is a great first step, but you may want to consider bringing an FDA approved portable oxygen machine for your pup.
Giving your dog any kind of tranquilizer or anxiety medication prior to the flights is strongly discouraged. Most vets find that this increases a dog’s health risk on a plane, especially short-nosed breeds. Instead, find other ways to comfort your dog.
While flying with your pup in cargo may have been common in the past, safety studies have shown just how dangerous this can be. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
Because of their anatomical abnormalities, short-nosed breeds seem to be more vulnerable to changes in air quality and temperature in the cargo hold of a plane. Although pets are transported in pressurized cargo holds and get much the same air that the passengers in the cabin do, the air circulation might not be ideal for your pet’s individual needs (and remember, your dog is in a crate that could also be affecting ventilation). In addition, remember that there isn’t anyone in that hold area that can monitor your pet and provide help if needed – so if there’s a problem, you won’t know until the plane has landed and your pet has been unloaded.
If your dog is small enough, they can travel in an FDA approved dog carrier that fits under your plane seat. This allows you to keep an eye on your pup throughout the flight to ensure they’re okay.
One of the most common problems dogs have on airplanes is due to choking on vomit. For this reason, it’s recommended that you don’t give your pup any food and minimal water during the four hours prior to your flight. This will also help to reduce the chances of having an accident in the terminal or plane, which can result in you getting kicked off the flight.
While you may think leaving your dog with their favorite blanket or toy to comfort them during the flight is helping, but it can overcrowd their carrier or crate. This is especially damaging for dogs traveling in cargo, as no one will be there to remove the item if your pup is showing signs of discomfort. With ventilation being as limited as it is, it’s best to keep their carriers as empty as possible.
If you’re flying with your pup in cargo, then a layover will mean that they’ll be spending more time in the care of the airline. And who knows what kind of people they have working for them. Often, pups will remain in cargo areas long after your flight has landed. If the plane is off, then there will be minimal air ventilation that can lead to breathing difficulty.
On the other hand, if you’re flying with your pup in the cabin with you then a layover may be a nice break. Especially if you’re taking them on a long flight, breaking it up a bit can put your dog more at ease.
Two weeks prior to flying with your pup, make an appointment with your veterinarian to do a quick check-up. Tell them that you will be on an airplane and learn if your dog is healthy enough to safely make the trip. If your dog is overweight or elderly, this can increase your dog’s risk of experiencing a medical emergency.
You should also ensure all of their vaccines are up to date and find out if a health certificate is required by your airline or destination. If you’re flying with your pup out of the country, then this is an essential step to take before your flight. You may need to present specific documentation upon arrival and your dog may need to be quarantined for a short time.
If you plan to use a brand new dog carrier or crate on your trip, getting your dog accustomed to using it can help to reduce their anxiety. Use it when taking short trips in the car, allow them to take naps in it, and make it part of their daily routine. It’ll be much easier to get them to relax in their carrier on the day of your flight if they’ve used it before.
Make sure you pack all of the essentials for your pup. In addition to their food and toys, you’ll want to make sure you have access to their medical records in case of an emergency. This ultimate dog travel checklist can help you make sure you’re packing everything your pup needs.
I’m Rose! Get lost with me as I travel the world with my spoiled dog Chelsea in hopes of accidentally uncovering a few hidden gems along the way. Far from being considered a planner, it’s not uncommon that we stumble upon both the best and the worst of what this world has to offer.
From advice on how to make traveling with a dog easier to the inside scoop on what it’s really like to travel alone as a woman, this travel blog is far from ordinary. Follow us as we explore the smallest corners of the globe, meeting new people and hopefully not getting murdered along the way.