Flying with your dog can be stressful, but with these tips, both you and Fido will make it to your destination in one piece.
Your furry best friend may love joining you on long car rides, but flying with your dog is a whole other story. Instead of sticking his head out the window to enjoy the breeze, your pooch will be stuck in a small carrier in a scary environment for an extended amount of time.
Whether you're moving to another state or simply treating your pooch to a vacation, getting your dog ready for his first plane ride is an important step to having a successful trip. Your dog will most likely be scared and anxious, but with a little planning, you can make the experience as painless as possible.
Here are a few things you can do to soothe those pre-flight jitters.
Know the Health Requirements
Once your tickets are booked, call the airline and ask if there are any health requirements for that specific flight. If you're flying to another country, you'll most likely be required to present a health certificate for your dog.
Your pup will have to pay a visit to his favorite veterinarian at least 10 days prior to the flight. Different destinations have different rules, but in order to qualify for the certificate, your dog will most likely need updated vaccinations and a flea and tick treatment.
Some overseas destinations like Hawaii, Australia, and Guam are considered to be rabies-free areas and require an extra step for globe-trotting pets. If you're flying to any of those areas, your dog will need a FAVN blood test and will be required to go through a quarantine process.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Whether your 10-pound Chihuahua will be flying in the cabin with you or your 70-pound Golden Retriever will ride in the cargo area, your dog will spend hours inside a cramped carrier. Before you subject him to that confined space, it's important to familiarize him with the exact carrier he'll be in on the flight.
Starting as soon as your travel plans are finalized, take time out of every day to coax your pooch into the carrier. Start by leaving him in there for a few minutes and gradually increase the time to a few hours.
A carrier, plus a scary plane, plus new smells, plus being jostled around like cargo, equals a very stressed out canine. But with practice, your dog will become more comfortable in his carrier, and you won't have to worry about him freaking out at 37,000 feet.
The Day of the Flight
When the big day finally arrives, wake up early to go on a long walk or spend extra time playing. If your pup is extra tired, he may just sleep through the entire flight. If your dog gets motion sick in the car or can't hold his bladder for very long, consider limiting his food starting six hours before the flight.
It's also a good idea to tape pictures of your dog onto the carrier and keep one in your pocket. It's always best to prepare for the worst-case scenario, and in this situation, that would be your best friend getting lost like a piece of luggage. Those pictures will help airport personal find him quickly.
Before you head to the airport, make sure your pup is wearing his collar and ID tag, and double check to make sure you have all the necessary paperwork. Once you do that, triple check to make sure the carrier is securely latched. The scenario where your dog escapes the carrier and starts sprinting through the airport is obviously something you'd like to avoid.
The most important thing to remember when flying with your dog is that his attitude will mimic yours. If you're calm and confident, it'll rub off on your pooch. Simply put, don't let Fido know you're nervous! With the right amount of planning, patience, and luck, you and your dog will enjoy a smooth ride all the way to your final destination.
For more planning resources check out this guide from Upgraded Points.
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