The endless waiting, security lines, strict rules, jetlag, layovers...flights can be a real drag! Now imagine the amount of stress and anxiety your furry friend must be experiencing.
Dogs are used to a settled routine and are not well equipped to handle the hustle and bustle of airport environments. This is why every dog owner should be as prepared as possible to maintain a stress-free and comfortable atmosphere for their fur babies.
Here are seven nifty tips to help you and your pooch have relaxing and carefree flights.
Get a good quality carrier
Most airlines don’t allow dogs in the passenger cabins, so you must consider leaving your dog in the cargo hold. In that case, your airline approved dog crate should be sturdy and spacious enough for your dog to lie down comfortably. Invest in a good quality carrier that has metal locks and steel hardware fasteners.
Another important thing to note is that your dog should have the chance to try out and get used to her new bed. If possible, try to use the carrier beforehand, keep the dog in it for shorter periods of time repeatedly. This way the pooch will recognize it as a familiar and safe place to be in.
Check your dog’s health
For the sake of avoiding unpleasant situations at the airport, and most importantly, for the sake of your beloved dog, make sure to do a routine medical check with your vet before the flight. Some airlines require a health certificate and pet passport as a prerequisite for flying, but even if they don’t, do it just in case.
In fact, if your dog has had health problems before, or is approaching a certain age, it’s a good idea to check his heart, stamina and overall wellness. Some breeds, like the short-nosed pugs and bulldogs, are more prone to respiratory problems and are sensitive to air quality and temperature changes. In those cases, it’s just not worth the risk! Make sure to properly consult your vet and be certain your dog can withstand air travel.
Better safe than sorry
Even on shorter flights, you’ll probably need to spend at least 3-4 hours on the trip, and that’s the best-case scenario. Most airports don’t allow dogs to be out of their carriers/crates unless they have a specific place for service dogs (usually just a patch of fake grass), which is not so common anyways.
You’ll need to arm yourself with all the goodies, toys, snacks and plenty of water if you want a chaos-free trip. Another useful trick is to line your dog’s carrier with a water-resistant kennel pad that can be a lifesaver in emergency situations on long and exhausting flights.
Exercise before the flight
An ideal flight with a dog would be a full-trip sleeping session. In order to keep your dog calm and ready to snooze, try incorporating a long and fast-paced walk before heading to the airport. Also, make sure the dog is well fed and in a good mood to reduce any unnecessary restlessness and discomfort. That way your hound will be satisfied and up for a long nap - just in time to make it through the flight.
Watch out for the temperature conditions
Unfortunately, weather conditions are not something you can be in control of, but at least take into account the weather forecast for the departure dates. Believe it or not, this could be the game-changer for your furry friend since a day too hot or too cold can turn his flight into an unbearable nightmare.
It’s hard being locked in a confined space for a few hours, let alone having to bear extreme heat, stuffiness or freezing cold. Sometimes planes have floor air conditioning or heating that can make your dog distressed. Bring an extra blanket or a simple towel to make her warm, or just observe her behaviour to be able to make needed adjustments.
Get a secure collar just in case
Just as you would keep an eye on your luggage, make sure you know where your dog is at any time. The best would be if you could take your dog in the passenger cabin, but in case that’s not an option, there are neat secure collars and ID tags to help you track your pooch. Also, always have a photo of your pet with you for faster identification in case he gets lost.
If nothing else works consider natural sedatives
This should really be used as a last resort, however, sometimes it’s best for both the dog and the passengers to calm her down with a natural remedy. If you know your dog will go through extreme stress, consult with your vet on safe and natural sedatives just to make it through the rough flight.
Bringing your furry companion on a plane doesn’t have to be an impossible mission. The important thing is to truly understand what your pet is experiencing and do some quality planning ahead. These practical tips can help you stay ahead of the game.
Want to help support our cause? To help feed hungry shelter animals who have yet to meet their best friend, we sell leashes, harnesses and matching accessories for you and your pooch. Shop our designs here.
Covering the pet world for more than 25 years, Melissa L. Kauffman has been an editor/writer for a wide variety of pet magazines and websites from the small critters to parrots to cats and dogs.