We asked for your biggest dog travel questions on our Instagram, and you answered! We hope that our answers help you take that next step and book a trip with your pup. More information is always available on our resources page and our international pet travel guide. Without further ado, here are your questions and our answers.
Do airlines have weight restrictions?
Yes, many do! You can size up different airlines and their weight and carrier restrictions for flying in cabin here. Most airlines that fly pets in cargo determine pricing according to a variety of factors, including weight. The heavier the dog, the more you’ll have to pay.
How do you deal with going potty on the airplane?
Luckily, our pets (two dogs and a cat) have never had an accident in an airport or in flight! We do the following things to help prevent this from happening:
- Limit food and water before travel. We closely monitor the amount they drink, because we want them to stay hydrated, but not fill their bladder. If you need help measuring water intake, try using ice cubes. We also feed them their last meal 3-4 hours before departure time, depending on flight duration.
- Go for a walk. We always go on a nice walk before leaving for the airport so they can relieve themselves. We also give them an opportunity to pee before entering the airport.
- Map out pet relief stations. All US airports are required by law to provide a pet relief area. Many large ones have multiples. We’ve also found relief areas in many large international airports, like Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro. Map out where the relief stops closest to your terminal will be and try to visit them before boarding. If you have a lay over, make sure you have enough time to visit one before boarding your next flight.
If you’re nervous and unsure if your dog can hold it, pack a few wee wee pads with you. Take your dog to the bathroom on board, spread them on the floor, and coax them to go. You can dispose of the folded up pads in the trash, and flush any solid waste down the toilet. Always be sure to thoroughly clean up after yourself, so fellow passengers and flight attendants aren’t inconvenienced. This method should be used only in cases of emergency.
How do you deal with an anxious dog while traveling?
Here are a few things you can do to help an anxious dog while traveling.
- Practice! Dogs don’t like surprises. Before embarking on your journey, practice with them so they’ll know what to expect come travel day. If they’re flying in a carrier, get them used to their carrier and make it a safe space for them. Practice leaving them in it; start with short periods of time and increase as you go. If you’re going on a road trip, start off with shorter trips in the car. The more you practice, the more confident your dog will feel.
- Stay calm. Dogs can sense your energy. If you’re anxious, they’re more likely to feel anxious themselves. Stay calm, use positive reinforcement, and be positive.
- Essential oils. Aromatherapy can be therapeutic and have calming effects on dogs. Put a few drops on their carrier. This bundle is a great option, as well as this individual option. Caution: if you’re traveling with a cat you might want to skip the essential oils, as many are toxic to felines.
- ThunderShirts. ThunderShirts apply gentle, constant pressure to calm anxiety and fear, kind of like swaddling a baby. Try one on your dog. Be sure to remove and readjust every 1 to 2 hours.
- Your smell. Leave an item containing your smell, like a t-shirt, in the carrier or kennel with your pet. Your smell will help make them feel safe and calm.
- Speak to your vet. In some cases, your vet might prescribe medication to help calm your dog. Always test these options out first at home, with access to vet care, to see if they cause any unwanted side effects.
What’s the best airline to take your dog on?
For traveling in cabin, airlines with great reputations include America Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, and Air Canada. Air Canada has the lowest fees, charging $59 for one way travel in cabin. We often fly American Airlines and have always had good and smooth experiences.
For flying in cargo, we’ve heard many good things about Alaska Airlines. Their PetStreak™ Animal Express also promises Fur-st Class™ Care. You’ll be notified when your pet is loaded onto the aircraft, and their prices are reasonable. Plus, pets traveling Alaska get a free pet health examination and discounted health certificate at Banfield Pet Hospitals, found in PetSmart retail stores.
Once you find an airline you like and trust, we recommend sticking with them. Building a history will help if you ever need assistance.
When should I feed my dog if we have a 3 hour flight?
I would feed them 3-4 hours before the flight. Make sure to go on a potty break or two before the flight. Give them a good walk before leaving for the airport, and then give them a chance to go when you arrive at the airport. If you feel they might need a pick me up along the way, you can always bring treats in your carry on.
As always, consult your vet before traveling.
For transatlantic long flights, are dogs allowed to be out of their crate?
When traveling in cargo, dogs must travel in crates, or kennels. Crates must always remain closed, from the moment you drop off your dog to the moment you pick them up. Some airlines will insist on securing crates, with zip ties for example, to ensure they remain closed.
If you have a layover, and your pet will be on multiple flights, some airlines will agree to allow your pet to be removed for some time by an airline worker during the lay over. Consult your airline.
If your dog is traveling in the cabin and isn’t a service or emotional support animal, they are supposed to stay in their travel carrier under the seat in front of you from take off to landing. That said, we’ve found that if you’re lucky and the crew is in a good mood, they might let your pup stretch their legs a bit. Don’t count on it though, since this is technically against the rules.