Do’s and Don’ts of Flying with Pets

Did you know that more than 2 million pets fly on airlines annually? However, if you ask a frequent flyer, they would tell you that flying with pets is never easy.  

Here are some valuable tips to make your flight time with pets easy. 

When flying with pets, remember to plan prior, assess health check-ups, know airline policies regarding bringing pets, choose pet-friendly hotels near the airport, and do not forget to carry anxiety medicine.

Meanwhile, be careful about feeding time and potty breaks, and keep the flight attendant in check so you can assess your pets, especially during long flights.

Here are more things to keep in mind when traveling by air with your furry companion.

The Do’s of Flying with Pets

Pet parents should adhere to these guidelines to ensure a smooth and positive travel experience.

1. Proper Planning

Neglecting proper planning when traveling with pets can result in numerous challenges. 

Insufficient preparation may cause pets to experience stress, discomfort, or potential health issues during the journey. 

Moreover, a lack of documentation could lead to entry denials or quarantine at the destination.

Things to Consider While Planning a Canine-Safe Vacation

  • Current ID tags with your contact details and a recent photo for pet identification.
  • Pack enough pet food for the flight duration and carry a portable water bowl.
  • Include items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any specific pet medications.
  • Carry brush, nail clippers, and any grooming tools your pet may need.
  • Pack vet records, vaccination certificates, and any required permits.

Carry wipes, paper towels, poop bags, and a small cleaning spray for unexpected messes.

2. Health Check-up

Scheduling a visit to the veterinarian in advance is another step to begin your trip without worries. Ensuring how much a pet can withstand the stress of air travel helps parents decide according to the pet’s condition. 

Also, the confined space and altitude changes have caused 189 flight-related animal deaths in the past. Therefore, performing a routine check-up on your furry member will be best to avoid complications.

Tips for Prior-flight Health Check-up

  1. Confirm that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date per airline and destination requirements.
  2. Obtain a health certificate from the vet to confirm the pet’s suitability for air travel.
  3. Ensure your pet’s microchip information is accurate and up-to-date for identification purposes.
  4. Discuss with the vet how well your pet handles stress to minimize anxiety during the flight.

3. Research Airlines Policies

Researching the pet policies of different airlines helps to choose the right one for both pets and parents. 

Each airline has its policies, rules, and regulations regarding pet travel, including size restrictions, carrier specifications, and breed restrictions. 

Some airlines go the extra mile to provide pet amenities, such as climate-controlled cargo holds and pet-friendly cabins for smaller animals. So, it will be best to opt for airlines that have pet-friendly policies.

Rules to Follow while Booking a Flight with Pet

  • Carry a recent health check-up certificate and rabies vaccination certificate with you.
  • On average, the pet carrier case should be 46 cm/18 inches x 46 cm/18 inches x 30 cm/12 inches maximum. If the pet carrier exceeds this, it cannot be placed in the cabin and should be transported to the baggage compartment.
  • Your pet must remain in a locked carrier with you under the seat.
  • The pet must be ten weeks old and fully weaned.
  • You should pay extra charges up to a hundred or two hundred dollars as per the airline policy.

4. Book Direct Flights

Direct flights minimize travel time, reducing the boredom of pets. 

According to research, pets on direct flights have lower anxiety levels and discomfort than those on connecting flights. 

For example, dogs and cats subjected to shorter travel durations display more stable heart rates and show fewer signs of distress.

Tips While Booking Direct Flights

  • Book in advance during the peak times.
  • Choose destinations where direct flights are available.
  • Appropriately communicate with the airlines about any pet considerations.
  • Be aware of extra fees for cabin and cargo transport.

5. Find Pet-friendly Hotels

Staying at a pet-welcoming place after a tiring flight helps both parent and pet to relax comfortably, especially when it is closer to the airport.

Moreover, you can enjoy your private time and savor the freshness of your vacation without worrying about your pet there.

Tips to Select the Best Hotel while Travelling with Pets

  • Check online reviews to learn about other travelers’ experiences with pets.
  • Call hotels directly to inquire about their pet policies, fees, and available amenities.
  • Read the hotel’s pet policies, checking for size, breed, or number restrictions.
  • If your travel dates coincide with pet events or meetups, consider attending.
  • Look for hotels with local pet sitters or dog walkers.

6. Anxiety Medications

Even the friendliest pets can experience fear in closed spaces, loud noises, and unfamiliar environments.

Studies show that 20% of dogs feel separation anxiety during the flight due to new scents. 

Therefore, administering the vet-prescribed anxiety medications can help calm pets, ensuring a more comfortable journey.

Most Common Anxiety Medications for Pets

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Trazodone
  • Gabapentin
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Clomipramine (Clomicalm)
  • Buspirone
  • Sileo
  • Selegiline (Anipryl)
  • Amitriptyline

The Don’ts of Flying with Pets

Here are a few handy tips to prevent your pet from being harmed or disturbing other passengers.

1. Overfeeding Before the Flight

Pet parents should be cautious about overfeeding their pets when preparing for air travel because of potential digestive issues.

Excessive food intake may result in bloating or indigestion, exacerbating stress and anxiety. It can also cause motion sickness and can make your trip messy.

2. Neglecting Potty Breaks

Pet parents should never ignore the importance of scheduling regular potty breaks when traveling by plane with pets.

Just like humans, pets naturally need relief, and suppressing this instinct during a flight can contribute to anxiety.

Moreover, prolonged durations without restroom breaks might cause urinary tract issues in the future.

3. Ignore Climate Concerns

Sudden climate change, such as extreme heat or cold, can lead to dehydration, heatstroke, and even ischemic stroke in pets.

Therefore, it will be best to plan your travel by analyzing the weather forecast. 

Moreover, the sound of thunderstorms and lightning can make your pet traumatic. So, avoid the rainy season as possible.

4. Forget Pet Carrier

A pet carrier is essential while boarding a plane and traveling to a new place.

It provides a familiar and safe environment for the pet, decreasing stress during the journey. 

Forgetting the carrier can cause chaos since pets may become anxious or try to roam freely in an unfamiliar space.

5.Be Late at the Airport

Airlines have pet-specific check-in and boarding procedures, and being late might result in missed flights or issues. 

Being late can also cause stress on the pet, interrupting their routine and causing anxiety.

Moreover, limited resources and flight staff are allocated for handling pet-related procedures. 

Thus, timely arrival ensures a smooth check-in process, reduces stress for both the pet and owner, and lowers the risk of travel-related issues.


Flying with pets demands careful consideration and adherence to essential dos and don’ts.

Plan wisely, adhere to airline policies, choose direct flights and pet-friendly hotels, and consider anxiety meds if needed. Also, avoid overfeeding, neglecting breaks, and airport delays to overcome hassle.

Get in touch with Urban Pet Hospital, the best pet hospital in Des Moines, to discover and address your pet’s unique needs.

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