I’m flying somewhere soon and was thinking about taking my small dog along. What do I need to know about flying with my pet?
Flying With Fido in Forest West
Dear Flying With Fido,
Often when we travel, the hardest part is leaving our four-legged friends behind. But, before you book your dog’s plane ticket, weigh the pros and cons of taking him along and consider if taking him along is really in his best interest.
First and foremost, federal guidelines allow for documented emotional support animals to fly with their owners–typically for free. But if your dog isn’t a documented emotional support animal, you might find a few more hurdles to jump before making the arrangements to take him with you on your trip.
Unless you’re planning a permanent move or if there’s no way around it, please don’t fly your pet in the cargo hold of the plane. Simply put, it’s just not ideal and should only be done as a (very) last resort. When at all possible, traveling pets belong in the cabin with you. It’s safer and more comfortable for them.
Get ready to fork over some dough
Airlines charge anywhere from $100-$125 (one way) to fly a pet in the cabin with you. You’ll also need to consider that your pet’s carrier will likely count as your carry-on or personal item, so you might also incur checked bag charges for your luggage if you’re flying a carrier that requires it.
Plan far in advance
Most airlines need advance notice if you’re planning to bring your pet along as they can only allow a set number of animals in the cabin. You’ll also want to confirm that your size and breed of dog is allowed to fly with your particular airline.
Once you’ve done your research and are sure that taking your dog along with you is the best thing to do for both of you, there are a few more preparations to make to ensure a smooth journey.
First up, pay a visit to your vet to get a clean bill of health. Some airlines require documentation of vaccinations and good health, so make sure to get plenty of that paperwork from your vet ahead of your trip.
The day before your trip, be sure to feed your dog light meals. Basically, remember that what goes in, must come out, so plan accordingly to mitigate a mid-air potty disaster. Many airports have “animal relief stations,” where you can let your dog potty, eat and get a drink, so plan to visit those while traveling. Also, exercise your dog well the day before (and even the day of, if time allows) to help him to expend some energy and settle in for the flight.
Say no to drugs
Vets recommend against sedating your dog during the flight. The risks of sedation simply outweigh the benefits and it’s not worth it.
In the end, you might find that it is way more trouble than it’s worth to take your dog along with you on your trip. In that case, look into boarding him, hiring a pet-sitting service to come and care for him at your home, or even enlisting the help of a trusted friend or family member who might be willing to take care of him. And, lastly, consider this: While we love our pets, sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of a break from the responsibilities of caring for one and your pet might be much happier being at home in familiar surroundings, too.
Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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