I’m a frequent flyer and I have my carry on packing list down to a science. I know the items I’ll need with me to make my journey as smooth and enjoyable as possible. And now that I regularly fly with my dogs, I’ve got a good idea of the stuff they’ll need to make their travel day as comfortable as possible too. That way, we can all enjoy our time in the air. Be prepared for your next flight with your dog by making sure that you’ve packed the following items.
But first, check out our dog travel checklist to make sure you’ve packed all the right things in your luggage for your trip.
Other helpful and related posts:
- What NOT To Do On A Plane With A Dog
- Tips for Flight Day with your Dog
- 2 Dogs, 1 Human: Must Read Tips on Flying with Multiple Dogs
- 12 Tips For Eco-Friendly Pet Travel
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Unless your dog is a registered ESA or service animal, they’ll need to be in a travel bag.
A good pet travel bag is a must. It’s not only a safe space, where your dog can relax and feel comfortable, but it can also be used to store your dog’s items and paperwork.
It should be sturdy, easy to clean and have plenty of pockets.
We use the classic Sherpa Pet Carrier. It has both top and side entry. It’s not flashy, but it’s incredibly sturdy. It has a rear pocket, which is useful, but to be honest, I could use a few more pockets.
Luckily, there are many more options on the market, and at a variety of price points. Check out our list of The Best Pet Travel Bags For Every Budget.
Planes make you thirsty! A combination of dry air and nerves might leave your pup feeling a bit dehydrated.
Be prepared, and have a disposable water bowl ready to use. I also like to bring a reusable water bottle with me to fill up after going through security. You can always use a water fountain or ask a flight attendant.
Make sure to monitor how much your dog drinks, since they won’t have access to a bathroom while on board.
Leash and Harness
When zipping through the airport and on or off the plane, your dog will need to be leashed. It’s the safe way to lead your pup through what are often crowded and chaotic spaces.
We use our sturdy Buddy Belts harness and our everyday leash. It’s comfortable, dependable, and easy to slip on and off.
Make sure your pet’s ID tags are on their harness or collar, with their name and your information visible.
But be warned: You’ll have to take your dog’s leash and harness off when going through security.
Planes are hot zones for germs. Countless people fly, and have sat in your seat before you.
We bring small packets of grooming wipes and cleaning wipes on board every time we fly. I like to disinfect my area before settling in, and to do the same for those after us before de-boarding.
Leave your area as clean or cleaner than when you arrived, and wipe down your seat and your dog. I like to do a once over on Boogie’s coat, and to get a good scrub on each paw.
Dog Food and Treats
For those wondering if dog food and treats are allowed on planes, the answer is yes (learn about that here).
Bringing food and treats for your dog on board serves a two-fold purpose. It’s an incentive for your dog to behave (rewarding with treats for good behavior is great!) and it’s a precaution in case your plane is delayed, so your dog won’t have to skip a meal.
On a journey from Guatemala to New York, our layover in Dallas turned into an unexpected one night stay, after weather conditions canceled all flights to New York. We had to stand on long lines to get our new flights confirmed, and were up until the early hours of morning.
We were lucky that we had back up food in our carry-on, so Boogie and Marcelo could get a meal in while we sorted things out. Problem solved!
My motto when it comes to being a dog parent is: you can never have too many poop bags.
You’ll need these trusty little bags for trips to and from the airport, while in the airport, and in case the pet service area is out of them. Plus, in case of any other type of poop emergency, you’ll want to be prepared.
When I say bring a poop bag, I don’t mean just one. Have a roll in your poop bag holder, attached to the leash, and make sure there’s an extra roll packed in your carry-on, just in case.
Warmth or Cold
The temperature on planes is always finicky. Not only is the temperature regulation never consistent, but both people and dogs have their preferences, which are oftentimes different.
My dogs are divided – Boogie tends to get overheated, and Marcelo is always cold.
For Boogie, there are a few things we do to keep him cool. We keep a cooling pad in his carrier, so his underbelly stays cool. We also bring zip lock bags that we can fill with ice (ask the flight attendant), and pack around him, should he get too hot.
For Marcelo, we travel with him in a cozy sweater, so he stays warm. If space allows, we also bring a small blanket in his carrier, so he can snuggle up.
Dog Health Documents
Although it’s last on our list, many would argue that your pet’s paperwork is the most important thing to bring. You might not be allowed onboard without it!
Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, you’ll need to have copies of your pet’s health records with you.
I like to keep a copy zipped up in my pet’s carrier, and a digital copy on my phone.
It’s also a good idea to have a copy of important information on hand, like your vet’s phone number.
Optional things to pack:
These items might be useful for some dogs, but not all.
- Medication: if your dog takes any special medication, bring it in your carry-on. Even if they won’t have to take it that day, you’ll want easy access to it should your journey be delayed, or if your luggage is lost.
- Puppy pads: if your dog is puppy pad trained, bring a few along. They’re great to use to line your carrier, in case of accidents, or to lean on should the airport not have any pet service areas.
- Favorite toy: keep your dog occupied on the flight with their favorite toy.
- Your shirt: dogs that are not ESAs or service animals are required to stay in their carrier all throughout the flight. If your pet is anxious, keep a shirt of yours with your smell on it in their carrier. It’ll provide comfort.
Have you ever flown with your dog? What items do you bring?
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