Flying With a Dog: How to Prepare Your Dog!

What could be nicer than spending the best time of the year with your four-legged companion? This is comparatively easy by car or train. When flying with a dog, however, there are a few things to keep in mind, otherwise, your vacation can come to an abrupt end at the flight counter. You should also keep in mind that the flight is a major stress factor for your pet. Some breeds, for example, short-breathing representatives such as Bulldogs, and generally old dogs should not fly for health reasons. Read here which factors have to be considered so that you can fly carefree with your dog!

Plan the flight with a dog correctly

Each airline has its own dog carriage requirements, which usually depend on the size, weight, and sometimes breed of the dog.

In many cases, small dogs are lucky enough to be able to fly with you in the cabin. For this, you need special dog bags in the prescribed shape and size, which are completely closed and of course permeable to air.

Medium-sized and large, but above all heavy dogs, may only fly in a transport box in the hold. With most airlines, this applies to dogs weighing eight kilograms or more.

You have to be aware that flying in the hold means pure stress for all dogs. It is therefore very important that you prepare your dog properly and get him used to the prescribed transport box for weeks or months. Find out ahead of time whether your airline allows your dog’s breed. Breeds excluded from carriage may include Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boxers, i.e. any dog ​​breeds with flat noses or short muzzles due to their breed. These breeds have trouble getting enough air when it’s hot or stressed, and are also considered to be prone to stress.

A veterinarian should be consulted regarding the general health and resilience of your dog. Last but not least, it is also important to find out in good time what entry requirements the respective destination country has. Find out which vaccinations and at what intervals the dog needs and whether there are any quarantine regulations. Within the EU, an animal must have an EU pet passport, be chipped, and be vaccinated against rabies.

Dog bags and transport boxes

Most airlines allow dogs up to eight kilograms to fly in the cabin, including the transport bag. Exceptions to this are service and guide dogs. The approved transport bag usually has the maximum dimensions of 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm.

The dog may not be taken out during the entire flight, nor may it stick its head out. It is also forbidden to place the bags on a free seat next to you. The bag with your dog in it must remain in the footwell in front of you.

For dogs that are heavier than eight kilograms and are therefore transported in the hold, you need a special dog transport box.

These certified boxes are particularly stable and well ventilated. The dog must stand upright in its carrier and be able to turn around comfortably. Freshwater must be placed in the box so as not to spill during transportation. An absorbent pad to soak up the liquid in case your dog needs to relieve itself or the drinking water spills over is also required.

Prepare your dog properly for the flight

Although some airlines rent crates for flying with dogs, it makes sense to get the dog used to its own crate a few weeks before the flight. To do this, set up the box or bag for the small dog in your apartment sometime before the flight and transform it into a sleeping and resting place for your dog. Place blankets, favorite toys, and a used t-shirt of yours in the crate so your dog feels safe inside. You can also feed him in it for a while.

After a few days (or weeks) your dog gets used to the crate, start closing the crate door. At first, stay close to him and see how he reacts. If he is quiet, leave the room for a few minutes and leave him in the box.

Your dog should stop drinking shortly before the flight. Take him for a walk before he has to go into the transport box. Avoid flights that are too long with the dog and consider that even on a medium-haul flight, your dog will spend five or more hours alone in the box and under very stressful conditions (noise, unfamiliar surroundings, low temperatures, little light) spend.

Sedatives: pros and cons

Whether or not dogs should be given a tranquilizer on a plane is a matter of controversy. Most veterinarians do not recommend sedating drugs because side effects can result in circulatory problems that can lead to the dog’s death. Plant-based sedatives, on the other hand, are a viable alternative. They are mildly sedative and take the edge off anxiety.

If you have decided on a sedative in consultation with your veterinarian, then you should try it on your dog days beforehand. This is the only way you will find out to which dose your dog reacts and whether it tolerates the drug.

A good alternative for the welfare of your dog is dog boarding houses and private dog sitters who take care of your dog while you fly away on vacation. A holiday to destinations that you can easily reach by car – and that is stress-free for your dog – is also a nice alternative.

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