Flying With Fido

Season’s Greetings! This year’s holiday season is shaping up to be much busier than last year’s was. Many people like to bring their dogs with them when traveling even on planes. But is that a good idea? A vet discusses flying with Fido below.

Think It Over

Flying can be quite stressful for dogs. Fido doesn’t really understand the concept of flight, and can get very scared by the noise and vibration. Your canine buddy may be happier and more comfortable being boarded. Size is also something to consider here. A small dog that can fit in your lap will have a much easier flight than a big pooch that has to fly in cargo. Ask your vet for recommendations.

Have Paperwork

Bring copies of Fido’s registration and vaccination records with you. You can put paper copies in your flight bag, but it’s also a good idea to take pictures of them and email them to yourself. That way you’ll have them in both your phone gallery and inbox, and can access them online from anywhere.

Go Direct

Direct flights may cost a bit more, but they are much easier on your furry buddy. Try to avoid layovers. If that isn’t an option, book the flight with the shortest stops.

Do Some Research

Airlines can vary quite widely on their pet travel policies. This is one area where you definitely want to read the fine print! keep in mind that some airlines just have better safety records for pet travel than others. Do some reading before you book your flight. You’ll also want to ask your vet about options for calming medications to make the trip easier on your four-legged pal.


You may not be able to find Fido’s usual food and treats at your destination. Consider shipping some to your destination. Or course, if you’re staying at a hotel or AirBnB, you’ll need to coordinate with them or use a mail store.


Make sure your canine pal has been microchipped, and that the information in the registry is up to date. Fido should also be wearing ID tags. If he’ll be traveling in a crate, put ID on that as well. Luggage tags work well for this. You can also use a mailing label. Put some clear tape over it to make it waterproof.

Our Advice on Flying With Fido in 2024

What specific airlines have the best safety records for pet travel?

As a veterinary professional, it’s important to note that specific airline recommendations can change over time based on new data and incidents. However, airlines like Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and United often receive positive mentions for their pet travel policies and safety records. These airlines have established protocols to ensure the safety and comfort of pets during flights, particularly in handling, climate control, and monitoring. Always check the most current reviews and safety records directly with airline resources or trusted travel advisories for the latest information.

What are the specific requirements for pet carriers or crates when flying?

Pet carriers or crates used for flying must meet specific airline and International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines to ensure safety and comfort. They should be made of sturdy, non-toxic materials with sufficient ventilation on all sides. The carrier must be large enough for the pet to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It should have a waterproof bottom, secure latches, and no interior protrusions that could harm the pet. Labels indicating “Live Animal” and arrows showing the upright position, along with visible ID tags, are also required.

What are the potential health risks associated with flying for dogs, particularly those with pre-existing medical conditions?

Flying can pose various health risks for dogs, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions. The stress of flying, combined with changes in air pressure and temperature, can exacerbate existing health issues like heart or respiratory conditions. Additionally, the confined space in cargo holds may increase anxiety and discomfort, potentially leading to panic or injury. Dogs with compromised immune systems are also at greater risk of contracting illnesses from other animals during transit. It’s crucial for pet owners to consult with a veterinarian before flying with a dog, especially if the dog has underlying medical concerns.

How can owners prepare their dogs for the experience of flying?

Owners can prepare their dogs for flying by gradually acclimating them to their travel crate or carrier, starting with short periods and gradually increasing the duration. Familiarizing the dog with the sights, sounds, and sensations of the airport and aircraft environment through visits and simulations can reduce anxiety. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, can help create positive associations with the travel experience. Additionally, ensuring the dog is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations, as well as consulting with a veterinarian about potential calming medications, can help alleviate stress during the flight.

What should owners do if their dog experiences distress or medical issues during a flight?

If a dog experiences distress or medical issues during a flight, owners should immediately alert the flight crew and seek assistance. The crew can provide access to medical supplies and may be able to facilitate communication with veterinary professionals on the ground. Remaining calm and reassuring the dog can help mitigate stress. In severe cases, emergency veterinary care may be necessary upon landing. Owners should keep important documents, such as vaccination records and emergency contact information, readily accessible to expedite any necessary medical attention for their pet.

Happy Holidays! Please feel free to contact us, your local animal clinic in Hobe Sound, FL anytime.

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