Air travel can be extremely stressful for dogs, and there are safety risks involved. But sometimes, dog owners have no other choice. Melanie Monteiro, dog safety expert and author of The Safe Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out, offers her tips for safer puppy travel.
1. Do not fly your dog if he is in a high risk category.
Short-nosed breeds — boxers and bulldogs
Dogs with heart or lung conditions,
Ask your vet if you are unsure.
2. Get a pre-flight health certificate
and discuss natural stress-relief remedies and light sedation with your vet.
3. Try to get a direct flight
in the early morning or early evening for the dog’s comfort and safety.
4. Prepare the outside of your pooch's airline-approved crate.
Montiero suggests that you ” ‘pimp your crate’ to draw special attention to the precious cargo inside. Write something like ‘I’m Lucy and I’m very friendly!’ to help put the baggage handlers at ease.” Also, type up instructions on a sheet of paper listing your name, flight number(s), cell phone, emergency contact numbers and final destination and tape this to the top of the crate. Use duct tape to attach a spare leash and small bag containing waste bags and food to the outside.
5. Make the inside of the crate as comfortable and familiar as possible.
Line the inside of the crate with a kennel pad or other soft bedding, and place a shirt with your scent on it inside. Fill a durable toy like a Kong with treats to place inside with the dog, and ensure there is a sturdy water dish inside.
6. Ensure a fresh water supply.
The day before the flight, fill the water dish 2/3 full and freeze it, then take it with you to the airport to place in the crate right before you check the dog in.
7. Purchase a nylon safety collar.
Montiero suggests writing your dog’s information on a KeepSafe breakaway collar or Tazlab safe-t-stretch collar. Never use a chain collar or any collar with hanging tags, which can get caught on the wire kennel door!
8. Acclimate your dog to the crate well before the flight.
Give him a good long walk, and allow adequate time for him to eat a light meal, hydrate and eliminate before the flight. Confirm your dog’s pick-up location at check-in and at the gate. And remember to tip the baggage handler who takes your dog!
9. Make friends with your flight team.
Ask your flight attendant to deliver a nice note and photo of your dog to the cockpit. Be super-nice, charming and polite to everyone!
10. Try Pet Airways
Pet Airways is a new, pet-friendly airline will fly your dog in the main cabin to major cities like New York, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Says Montiero: “It’s been a long time coming!”