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Can You Take A Dog on a Plane? Doggy Travel Tips to Consider

Written by ADAPTIL Expert, published on April 18, 2023

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When your dog is your best friend you want them to go everywhere with you! You know that you can take them with you on most adventures; whether you are walking, or taking the car, bus or train! But can you take your dog on a plane?

The answer is yes - just as long as you do a little advanced planning! If it's possible to use an alternative means to travel with your dog, then this would be better and less stressful for your dog.

Ideally, you should start planning at least 3 months before you are hoping to travel by plane with your dog. So, whether you are relocating, or going on a long holiday or visit, these tips should help you and your doggy friend have a smooth journey!

Tips to consider for doggy travel:

Has Your Pooch Had A Health Check?

Importantly, the first step is to check with your vet to make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel, and to learn more about what preparations are needed. Every country has different requirements and some may ask that your pet has had certain vaccinations to enter. Some countries will also require your pooch to be quarantined on arrival; your vet will be able to advise you on what to expect for your destination.

If you are travelling within Europe; the EU system of Passports for Pets allows cats and dogs to travel between EU member states. This EU Pet Passport certifies that your pet is identifiable by microchip and is vaccinated against rabies - this vaccine is required for your pet to be allowed back into the UK. Pets from higher risk non-EU countries will also require a blood test. It's always important to double check the requirements before you fly of course, as rules and regulations do change.

Ask the Airline!

Before booking a flight, do your research and try to find an airline with a pet-friendly travel policy. Some airlines, for example may allow your dog to travel with you in the cabin, but this has to be approved in advance. Keep in mind that your pet will need to travel in an airline approved carrier, which may cost to bring aboard the airline. Note that your dog carrier counts towards your personal luggage allowance on some airlines so bringing this along with your regular carry on bag will incur an additional charge.

More frequently, airlines prefer to have larger pets in the hold and fly cargo - but there are exceptions to this, for example, if a pet is travelling with a disabled passenger, or as a support animal.

If you can, try to choose an airline and flight that can fly direct - without too many stopovers or changes! Planning well in advance will help you prepare for different country and airline requirements, and choose the best travel plan for your pet.

dog in travel bag

Do You Have A Backup Option?

Depending on your vet's advice and how well you think your pooch will take to travelling by plane, you may want to consider taking alternative routes. For example, can you travel by car or by train? Although the journey may take longer, it may be less stressful for your doggy with more stops as it will allow them to stretch their legs and go to the toilet, and is also a more environmentally-friendly choice.

Do you Have a Suitable Pet Carrier?

It is important that your dog remains comfortable and stress-free when travelling on a plane. Whether you are taking them in the cabin, or they will be travelling cargo, there are a few essential considerations to make:

  • Ensure your dog is 100% crate/carrier trained. This will mean that you need to start getting them used to their crate/carrier well ahead of travel. Help your dog to adjust to their carrier by placing their own blankets and toys in with them - help them to associate the crate as their special haven.
  • Never use the crate/carrier as a punishment and lock them in if they have misbehaved. This will give the wrong message as the carrier should be considered a safe, positive place and your dog won't want to go back in if they feel afraid! Ideally, you should never punish your dog as this could damage your relationship so consider using positive training techniques instead!
  • If you are taking your doggy into the cabin with you to fly, the carrier must be able to fit under the seat for take off and landing. It's best to buy a cabin approved pet carrier a few weeks ahead of travel. Under no circumstances can they be taken out of the carrier during the flight although you may be allowed to sit them on your lap - still in the carrier. A soft sided carrier is useful here as it will be pliable and fit into an awkward space.
  • If your pooch is travelling in the hold, each airline will have different regulations for travel. It's important to always check with them so you know what you need. Some airlines will provide crates according to the size of your dog. However, you will normally be allowed to give them their own bed, a few favourite toys and a water carrier.

terrier in travel bag

Have you considered costs?

Travelling with dogs can be costly, so before committing to a flight check out the costs; this will include any vet bills, vaccines, flights and quarantine. Even though you will definitely miss your pet, you may decide that a good boarding kennel may be the best for them while you are away!

Use Dog Calming Solutions - ADAPTIL

Whether travelling with your dog on a plane, or in a car, an ADAPTIL Calm On-the-go Collar, is clinically proven to help your dog cope with new situations and provides reassurance on any journey. Use alongside ADAPTIL Transport Spray to ensure the travel crate feels safe and reassuring, remember to use a few sprays directly into the crate 15 mins before your dog needs to go in.

Using the collar before and during the flight will help your pooch to feel more confident for their first overseas adventure!

ADAPTIL Transport Spray

Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.

Make sure to join our community for weekly advice from our dog behaviour experts as well as product offers and competitions. 

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