Before flying with your dog, take the necessary steps to be fully prepared. Many necessities for doggie air travel can be addressed long before leaving the ground.

  • Book tickets according to seasonal temperature variances. Airlines do not have temperature controlled cargo areas and do reserve the right to refuse animal service if the conditions are too extreme. During summer months it is best to fly at night, while in winter it is best to fly during the day.
  • Double check airline policies. Cover yourself by documenting all conversations, including a list of whom you spoke with, where and when.
  • Visit your dog’s veterinarian several days before you leave and ask for a current health certificate and an updated vaccinations certificate for your dog. Some county, national park and border patrol officials may require proof of an up-to-date health certificate.
  • Get an airline-approved crate. Some airlines allow owners to carry small crates for tiny dogs, as long as the crates fit under the seat.
  • Reserve tickets as early as possible for both you and your pet. Your pet may be able to travel in the cabin if there aren’t too many animals booked on the flight and if he meets size specifications.

Give Your Dog an Identity

  • Your dog should carry an identification tag that lists your name, address and telephone number.
  • For the flight, put a small luggage tag on the collar displaying your temporary residence information for your destination.
  • Never put tags on choke chains, as they fall off easily.
  • The best way to keep track of your dog is by having a microchip inserted in the dog’s neck. Ask your veterinarian for more information.

When You’re Ready to Go . . .

  • Make sure that the information on your dog’s ticket corresponds exactly with the information on yours.
  • Inspect every tag attached to your dog’s crate.
  • Mark your crate with your dog’s information and your flight information.
  • Include a food and water pack with the crate. If the weather is hot, use a cold pack.
  • Attach a feeding schedule for a 24-hour period to the kennel in case your pet doesn’t make it to the final destination. Airline attendants tend to make it a point to take good care of animals.
  • Arrive at the airport in good time, having made sure that your dog is relieved, well exercised, and comfortable.

Once You’re at the Destination Airport . . .

  • On arrival, let the gate attendant know that a live animal on board and that you’d like it unloaded as soon as possible. Once the attendant has made the call, head straight to baggage claim.
  • Time permitting, try to check on your dog during a layover, especially if there are extreme weather conditions outside. If the layover is more than a couple of hours, ask to claim your pet at the layover and re-check him before your connection leaves. Because air travel can be disorienting for your canine, try to spend time with him whenever possible.
  • Make sure your dog has boarded the plane before you get on. Fly direct whenever possible, if you have a plane change, repeat your original boarding routine.