Air travel for a dog is no easy feat. The thought of bringing your pup along to a new place may seem like an exciting adventure. However, this also puts your pet at risk especially during a flight as his short nasal passages make him vulnerable to heat and oxygen deprivation.

Besides making sure you’ve packed everything into your suitcase, there are other concerns you have to think about when you add your pet into the picture.

To make sure that your dog is in perfect condition after you both get off the plane at your destination, here are some safety measures you have to take:

1. Contact your airline

Once you’ve decided to fly with your dog, contact the airline if you’re allowed to take an animal with you. Not all airlines allow animals, and regulations for flying with them differ. When booking a flight for your pet, pay close attention to the fine print.

The common requirements of airlines include that the pet should have a certificate of good health and should travel inside a pet carrier. Expect that bringing your pet with you can involve steep fees so make sure to ask about them ahead of time.

You also need to check what additional requirements or rules you will need to abide by involving your pet in your destination, particularly if it is a different country altogether.

To ensure your dog’s maximum comfort and safety during the flight, consider the following:

  • Toss in a blanket and a few toys inside the pet carrier to make your dog feel at home.
  • Don’t forget to label your pet carrier with your name, home address, contact number, and location of your final destination.
  • Bring a pet harness so that you can safely control your pet while his carrier is being X-rayed.
  • Placing your pet in the cargo area should be a last resort as there are risks with ventilation and temperature.

2. Visit the vet for a health check

Your pet needs a veterinarian health check to ensure that he is fit for travel and that all his pet vaccinations are up-to-date. A veterinarian can determine travel safety variables per dog breed and whether your dog needs sedatives or anti-nausea medication before the flight.

When you travel with your dog, make sure you have a pet kit that contains:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Waste bags
  • Wipes or cloth
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Bowls
  • Any medication that your pet needs
  • Health certificate signed by a veterinarian

3. Prepare your pet

Travelling with a pet isn’t as easy as placing your dog inside a pet carrier then waiting for the plane to take off.

You have to prepare your dog for the long journey and let him get used to his carrier. Placing your dog in a crate should be done in transition and not something you should do immediately on your flight day.

Make sure the collar of your dog isn’t a type that will easily get caught in carrier doors. Also, ensure that your dog has a working microchip to keep him safe.

The day before your flight

To make sure everything is ready for your trip, follow this checklist.

  • Don’t feed your dog 4 to 6 hours before your flight.
  • Bring wet wipes or any cleaning supplies to remove any carrier mess.
  • Make sure that your dog’s nails are clipped to prevent them from getting hooked in the carrier’s holes, door, and other crevices.
  • Keep your pet physically preoccupied through exercise so that he’ll just sleep soundly the entire duration of the flight.
  • Carry a recent photo of your pet with you including detailed proof of vaccination. In case your pet gets lost during the flight, a photo will make it easier for airline staff to locate your dog.

Flight day

Once it’s time to fly, your dog will either be stowed in a cage under the seat or checked in as cargo. If you’re taking your pet in the cabin, keep in mind the size restrictions. There are also some airlines that have limits to the number of pets allowed per cabin.

Don’t hesitate to be vocal about your pet, it never hurts to let people know that your dog is on board. Most importantly, speak up if you notice that your dog is being handled improperly. You are your pet’s voice and you need to support him to make certain that he’s treated properly and kept safe.

Fly safe with your furry pal

Your pet deserves to be treated right so don’t allow anyone to handle him like luggage.

But remember, as a pet owner, it is your primary responsibility to ensure that your dog is well-prepared for flying. By taking all of the above measures and precautions, there’s no reason why you and your pet can’t enjoy a safe and peaceful flying experience.


Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.