How to Fly with a Puppy

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How To Fly With A PuppyWhen it comes to air travel, not all pet owners will know how to fly with a puppy. The truth is, there are a lot of things to consider when you want to bring your furry friend with you on a vacation to Puerto Rico. Even so, you’ll be happy to know that with your pooch is still possible; all you need is the right information, which we’ve compiled for you below. 

Can I Fly with My Dog Inside the Plane? 

In a lot of cases, dogs are allowed to fly on the plane and will be put either in the cargo hold or in the main cabin. But as you can imagine, all major airlines will have their own set of rules and guidelines for traveling with pets. It’s important that you understand them, and plan in advance for your trip, so you’ll know what to expect when you plan to fly with your pooch.

Preparing for Your Flight 

First, look for pet-friendly airlines that will allow your pup to travel inside the cargo hold or in the cabin — your dog’s breed should be taken into consideration since most airlines will bar certain breeds from flying. For example, brachycephalic and small-breed puppies with snubbed or short noses won’t be allowed to fly in the hold because of breathing issues. A lot of the time, larger dogs aren’t permitted inside the airplane cabin with the exception of fully-trained service dogs, so most will need to fly inside the cargo hold. 

Some air carriers have also completely banned certain breeds such as pit bulls from flying in their planes. To avoid problems down the road, always make flight reservations for you and your pup at the same time. Moreover, keep in mind that most airlines will only let a few pets on every flight — around 2 to 6 animals will be allowed depending on the kind of plane they’re using and whether you’re going on a domestic or international flight.  

Rules for Flying with a Dog 

The rules set when traveling with your pooch will depend on the specific airline’s pet requirements, the kind of dog you have, and where you’re going. Always do research ahead of time, especially if this is your first time flying with your pooch to ensure you have everything you need in terms of the latest regulations. However, the rules will be completely different if you’re traveling with trained service animals, so make sure that you have the right information. 

American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines all have different rules for pet travel. They will usually need a health certificate that was issued by an accredited vet, which includes physical examinations. Keep in mind that these certificates are only valid for 30 days, and will be required during your departure and return. 

Most airlines will require a health certificate that’s newly acquired — check out the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website on how to get started with getting your certificate. If your trip will be longer than the validity of your certificate, you’ll also need to schedule a visit to the vet during your trip to get the requirements ready for your return flight. Furthermore, you’ll need to have an 8-week-old puppy at the very least for it to be old enough to fly.   

In general, you can expect to pay between $95 to $125 each way to have your pup fly inside the cabin but the pet fee will vary by airline. As for shipping your pet inside the cargo area, the exact amount will be calculated based on your dog’s weight combined with their crate, and how far they’re traveling. But no matter where your pet stays, all airlines require that it stay inside a suitable crate or pet carrier.

Be sure that you clearly mark their carrier with the words “Live Animal” and place arrows that will show which way is the right side up, along with a label that contains your name, address, phone, number, and contact information at your destination. Another thing you will need to research is the local import law for every airport you will stop at — this is especially important during international travel, or when you visit Hawaii, which has strict rules. Furthermore, there are specific requirements for dogs coming back to the United States. from countries that are deemed to be high risk for rabies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Below are a few requirements that you will need to consider if you plan on traveling to places with a high risk for rabies to ensure that your pooch returns without any problems: 

  • A vaccination record proving that your pup is microchipped and protected from rabies by a licensed veterinarian in the U.S.
  • It is at least 6 months old
  • It is healthy when it comes back 
  • It arrives at any of the 18 airports that offer CDC quarantine facilities  

Before you go on your trip, do some research on your arrival and departure airports and pay close attention to available pet relief areas. You can also prepare your dog to get used to its crate in advance so that it’s always comfortable spending a long time inside it. You can also consider making trips to the airport’s departure area before your flight to ensure that your pup will feel comfortable in that kind of environment. 

Health Risks for Dogs When Flying 

Before booking your dog a ticket, it’s important to remember that they can’t tell you whether or not they’re interested in flying in the skies. There are certain risks involved when flying; we all know the in-flight earaches all too well, so there’s no reason why your dog wouldn’t be affected by this too. As such, we’ve listed down a few reasons why including your dog in your travel plans may not always be a good idea. 


When you want to take a flight with your canine friend, you’ll want to think about whether it is well adjusted for airline travel. Not all dogs are suited for this and the many stresses that are associated with it, especially when it needs to be placed in cargo. Long flights with many layovers and international flights can induce anxiety for both you and your pooch. 

Unfortunately, there have been reports of dogs dying during their flight, so it’s vital that you come prepared. There are plenty of things that can traumatize your dog inside planes since they can experience loud noises and changes in temperature and air pressure, as well as various people and smells. These are all things that your pup won’t be used to, and they may not have an opportunity to relieve themselves when they have to go potty. 

The best way to help your pooch feel as comfortable as possible during your trip is to speak to your veterinarian about giving anti-anxiety medications during your flight. You can also line your crate with a pee pad, and invest in soft-sided carriers to ensure your pet’s comfort. Another thing you can do to help keep your pet calm is to place a personal item inside their carrier such as a chew toy to give it a sense of familiarity.    

Injuries and Illness

Since COVID-19 started, more and more airlines have adopted policies that stop pets from traveling inside cargo areas, but this isn’t the only reason. A medicated dog inside a plane will need to be placed under constant supervision and should never be left unattended. Moreover, cargo holds may lead to more injuries due to loose baggage. 

Regulating Temperature

Pet parents need to understand that one of the most important things to consider when leaving their pups in the cargo hold is that the temperature there won’t be the same as inside the cabin. While some planes will have climate-controlled and pressured cargo holds, they can still undergo extreme changes in temperature. As such, animals may experience extremely cold or hot climates, which may lead to hypothermia or overheating. 

Ear Discomfort

There’s a reason why we often take a pack of gum in our carry-on luggage; chewing gum during a flight can help to prevent and solve ear discomfort as well as muffled hearing. Much like humans, our dogs’ ears will be affected when reaching higher altitudes, but unlike us, our pets won’t have the luxury of chewing on gum. Fortunately, this pain should only last a few minutes because dogs have the ability to equalize the pressure in their ears, thanks to their outer ear canal’s unique design. 

Special Health Considerations

You may want to consider that both pregnant and older dogs are at a higher risk of developing complications while flying. If you’re traveling with a senior dog, speak to your vet about doing a geriatric blood panel ahead of your flight to ensure it has no underlying conditions. 

After careful consideration of these issues, you might be asking yourself, “Is it cruel to take my dog on a plane?” The answer will depend on your pooch. Much like humans, some dogs are more suited to traveling than others, and some will simply prefer to stay at home. If your dog shows any sign of anxiety or has an irrational fear of the situation as soon as you board your plane, then it may be best if it never has to experience this again. 

Preparations for the Day of Your Flight 

When the day for your flight comes, make sure that you have an early morning start to get your dog ready for the day it’s about to have, and so you don’t feel rushed and stressed. If your pooch is flying in the cargo hold, be sure to get to the airport at least 3 hours early for domestic flights, and 5 hours early for international flights. This is because you’ll need to take your pup to a separate location at the airport for items in the cargo area. 

If you’re traveling with small dogs that can comfortably fit in the cabin, visit the passenger check-in desk where someone can check your dog’s required paperwork. You may also want to read about the rules regarding dog food ahead of time to help you confirm whether or not you can carry dry and wet food in your carry-on bags. However, a security office may still ask you to take your dog food out of your bag to ensure the contents of inside your carry-on. 

But if your pooch is staying inside the cargo hold, then be sure to attach a current photo of your pet outside its carrier, along with a small food bag to ensure that it gets fed during the flight. It’s also important that you keep a current picture of your pet on your phone in case your pet is accidentally misplaced by the airline. While this isn’t likely to happen, it’s better to be safe than sorry — it will also help if your pet is microchipped if it ever gets lost during your travels. 

Once you land at your arrival destination, get your checked baggage and go straight to the airport’s cargo facility. In general, dogs transported within the cargo area will be available 2 hours after the flight lands, and you’ll need to pick it up within 4 hours or airline staff might take them to a boarding facility or a veterinarian. Whether your pup flew inside the cargo or cabin, take your dog out of its crate and take it for a walk, and make sure that you give it plenty of cuddles, treats, praise, and toys. 

This will ensure that your pup has a positive experience after the flight and will help it form a positive association with planes and go on flights if you plan to take them with you again in the future. If you have a layover, and your dog is with you in the cabin, you can stretch both your legs by taking a walk together. While this journey can be hard for both you and your dog, you can breathe easier once you know you’ve arrived at your destination safely.  

Flying with a Puppy FAQs

Here are just a few questions that many people might have on how to fly with a puppy on different airlines.  

Can I Get a Seat for my Dog on the Plane? 

Most airlines won’t let passengers buy their pups a seat next to them, but depending on your dog’s breed and size, along with the airline’s policies, you might be able to pay to travel with your dog inside the cabin. Usually, dogs will only be allowed inside the cabin if they’re small enough to fit inside a carrier that can be stowed under the seats. Known as a carry-on pet, they may be accepted by airlines such as Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, and Etihad Airways. 

How Do I Travel with Bigger Dogs? 

There are some airlines that may accommodate large dogs as cargo or baggage, so it’s important to learn the airline’s requirements and policies for flying with big pups. Unfortunately, since the COVID-19 pandemic, some airlines have stopped accepting dogs inside planes, except for U.S. State Department and U.S. Military personnel. It’s also important to remember that traveling by air can stress out your dog, and they’re more suited to car travel. 

How to Fly with a Puppy

Puppy travel isn’t easy for both the dog and its owner, and for many, the best option is to leave their pooch behind to keep it stress-free. But if traveling with their pet is a must, dog owners have the responsibility to ensure that their furry friend is comfortable and safe every step of the way. Be sure to prepare everything you need ahead of time, and look up your airline’s pet policy and check to see that they will be able to accommodate your pup’s needs at all times.