Travelling by air with your dog: everything you need to know

If you are thinking about travelling by air with your dog, it is essential that you first find out how this kind of transport works. Although there are more and more companies that are pet friendly, it is true that there is still a lot to do. There are lots of things you must deal with if you want to travel by air and take your dog with you.

Here are some recommendations that you will find useful in arranging a flight without any hang-ups.

How to prepare your flight with your dog

The best way to start, when planning your flight with your pet, is to tell the airline as soon as you have decided. They are the only people who can give you up-to-date information about regulations and confirm that your dog will be able to travel with you on this flight, since there is a limit on the number of pets on board.

Check on requirements in the destination country

Not all countries have the same policies on the entry of animals. In the official web of each state you can find information on this point.

For example, there are some countries, such as Iceland, that impose fifteen days of quarantine for your pet, and others, such as the United Kingdom, that do not allow your dog to travel in the cabin with you, but he must always go in the hold.

Check on the requirements according to the airline

Even when you are travelling to countries with more permissive policies, or when you are travelling within Spanish territory, you need to check up on the requirements of each particular airline.

Among other things, airlines that allow animals have rules about the size and weight of the bag or pet carrier in which you can take your dog. Depending on that, it will be decided whether your dog can travel in the cabin or must be in the hold.

You must remember that airlines require you to get special tickets for pets, the price of which will vary according to weight and route.

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Try to have all the documentation in order

We recommend that you keep all your dog’s documentation up to date, as the airline is sure to ask you for it before you can fly.

It’s a matter of being up to date with vaccines, anti-parasite treatment and, for sure, your vet will have to certify that the animal is in optimum condition for a journey of this kind.

You must remember that, if your dog is brachycephalic or snub-nosed, like pugs or Pekingese, you may find it is prohibited to take him by air. The reason is that these dogs generally suffer respiratory problems during the flight. We recommend asking the airline and your vet about this particular problem.

Travelling with your dog in the cabin

Once you have checked that you meet all the requirements and that your dog can travel with you, it is best and most recommended for him to travel in the cabin with you. In this way, the journey will be must less stressful for your pet and also for you, because you can check on how he is during the flight.

The main problem is that for him to be able to travel in the cabin, generally the airlines stipulate that the animal weighs less than 8 kilos, bag or carrier included. In some companies, this weight may be as much as 10 kilos.

Advice on travelling in the cabin

  • Make sure that you meet the maximum size and weight requirements. For this reason, when you choose the bag or carrier for your dog, check on the measurements and weight. A flexible carrier or bag is more manageable and will make the journey more comfortable. Normally it must sit on the floor between your feet, or go under the seat,
  • Although the bag has to be closed during the flight, you can open it from time to time to check on your pet or give him water.
  • If your dog is not accustomed to travelling in a carrier, try to train him to it before you go. Try leaving him in the bag, starting with just a few minutes and gradually increasing the time, so that he is used to staying quiet inside it.
  • Do not feed your dog for 4 hours before the flight, so that he has no need to do his business during the journey.

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Travelling with your dog in the hold

When your dog weighs more than the maximum allowed in the cabin, that is, over 8-10 kilos, he must travel in the cargo hold of the aircraft.

We recommend that you choose this alternative, if there is no other option for your pet, such as choosing a different means of transport. Every day thousands of animals travel this way, and it is true that the care of the animals on board in the hold is extremely good. But you must remember that your friend will travel separately from you and may pass several hours before you are together again.

Advice for travel in the hold

  • Tell the flight staff that your dog is in the cargo hold. They can let you know the moment that he is loaded, so that you can be a little more relaxed for your journey.
  • The flight in the hold can be very traumatic for your dog. Get him used to being shut into the carrier, start practising a month before undertaking the journey.
  • Ask your vet about the risks that may affect your dog in particular. Also you might think of using some kind of tranquillizer so that the animal travels with less stress.
  • Avoid long flights or those with stopovers. If you can, avoid travelling at times of extreme heat or cold.
  • Make sure that your dog is well labelled, on his collar, nameplate and the pet carrier.
  • Check on your pet’s condition as soon as you reach your destination and go to a vet for anything you think is not right.

Travelling by air with your dog is not only possible, but in fact there are more and more airlines that are pet friendly. It is always preferable for him to travel in the cabin with you and not in the cargo hold. If you have all the information and the rules to follow, and your pet is well prepared, everything will go well.