Leo has severe separation anxiety when he’s away from me. And let’s be honest.. I have separation anxiety when I’m away from him. When I went back to see my family in Ohio, obviously Leo was coming with me and not staying with my husband. Leo and I are a package deal. But once I had booked the flight for myself and my little fur baby, I panicked a bit because flying with a dog is stressful! I didn’t know if he was going to howl all the way from Toronto to Ohio or if the airline employee would tell me his crate didn’t meet their requirements, or if he would decide he needed to potty at 30,000 feet in the air. All in all, I had a pleasant experience and was stressing over nothing, but these tips and products will make traveling with pooch a breeze.
If you can find this on craigslist, kijiji or ebay.. GET IT! Sleepypod still makes great carriers, but not this exact style. Like I do with pretty much everything else I buy, I did a lot of research on airline approved carriers and I read great things about this one. I was sold… until I realized that they didn’t make it anymore. I searched frantically and found one for sale on kijiji and it’s perfect! It’s a 3-in-1 pet bed, carrier, and car seat. Basically the outside of the bed is hard like luggage and the inside is soft and cozy with a detachable mesh dome and loops for a seat belt. If you can’t get your hands on the sleepypod mini, I would highly recommend the sleepypod air. They sell ultra plush inserts for the sleepypod air, as well.
*Carrier tips- Get your dog used to the carrier weeks in advance. I left the bed part of the sleepypod out on our couch and Leo would get in it willingly. I think that made a huge difference. Also, it made it smell like home, which is also comforting to your pup.
Check your airlines requirements for carriers. The will have specific information about dimensions and weight of dog and carrier combined. Mostly airlines also require that your dog is able to stand up and turn around comfortably and that two sides of the carrier are mesh.
Top Paw Travel Bowl $9.99
I always head to the airport thinking I might be stuck staying somewhere overnight with only my purse. It’s happened and I plan like it’s going to happen everytime. I keep leo’s collapsible bowl attached to his carrier and a bad of some dry food and treats in my purse.
*Travel feeding tips- withhold food for several hour before the flight departs.
No table scraps 24 hours before the trip. Leo just happened to have an upset tummy a couple days before we were supposed to leave, so the day before the flight I only have him white rice, boiled chicken and some anti diarrheal medicine from petsmart.
Just like the collapsible bowl, be prepared for anything. Generally the flights that I take with Leo are so short I don’t end up using either one, but it’s best to be prepared in case of a cancelled flight, extended layover, etc. I take it empty through security and fill it up with water from the bathroom sink once I’m through.
*Drinking tip- limit you pup water intake severeal hours before the flight but don’t withhold entirely.
For long haul flight, ask your flight attendant for a cup of ice and feed your pooch ice chips to keep him/her hydrated.
Travel Dog Wipes $2.95
You never know what your little fur baby is going to get into. Leo once decided right after we checked out of a hotel and had a 9 hour car ride ahead of us that he was going to roll around in another doggy’s do-do. I gave him a makeshift bath in the parking lot with my shampoo, a bottle of water and a blanket. I’ve learned my lesson and will keep these in my purse in a case of muddy paws and dirty butts. 🙂
Pet Pee Absorbent Sheets $1.49
It’s not a bad idea to put one of these inside your pup’s carrier, especially during a long haul flight. They’re also handy to carrier in your purse, in case you need to use a stall in the airport bathroom for your pup. Leo doesn’t normally use pee pads but in a pinch, it just might work.
Consider your dog’s anxiety. If your pup has never flew before and isn’t used to being in a carrier then the whole plane might hear him. Leo did surprisingly well, only let out a couple yaps here and there on the first flight, but it may have been due to his thundershirt and thunderspray. The thundershirt alone doesn’t calm him, but combined they minimize his anxiety.
*Anxiety tips- The thunder brand also makes calming chews you may want to consider.
Do not sedate your dog. Airlines often don’t let sedated dogs fly because it is a liability as it could impair your dog’s breathing.
Other tips and information
-Don’t forget you pup’s leash and collar.
-Take your dog on a long walk right before heading to the airport
-Contact your airline as soon as you book your flight to tell them you’re flying with a dog. There is a maximum number of dogs allowed on an aircraft.
-Research your airlines policy on required documentation as well as customs and border control, if flying internationally.
-Remember paper towels and stain and odor remover if you’re staying in a hotel, in case of accidents.
-When you go through security, you will take your dog out of his carrier and carry him through with you.
-Bring poop bags
-Research and write down where the animal relief area is at whatever airport you have a layover at (not all airports have an animal relief area).
-Reseach breed restrictions, both with the airline and the area that you are flying to.
My first time flying with Leo
I booked the trip several weeks in advance over the phone with Delta and let them know I was flying with a dog. At this time they asked me for breed, weight, dimensions of carrier and weight of dog and carrier combined. They emailed me my ticket and confirmed on the record that I was flying with a dog.
I later called Delta back to ensure that I only needed his proof of rabies vaccination while flying from Canada to the US. I got conflicting information and called three times before I finally got a solid answer, which was you are not required to have a health certificate per say, but if your dog appears to be in poor health they could possibly ask for one. I took my chances because Leo looks healthy and I knew he was healthy because he had recently been to the vet for a vaccination.
When I arrived at the airport, I put Leo in his carrier and headed to the ticket counter where she confirmed I was flying with a dog. She didn’t look at the dog or the carrier. I just paid the $125 fee and proceeded to customs.
Leo was still in his carrier when we got to the desk. The officer only asked me if I had his “papers”. I told him that I did and asked if he would like to see them. He didn’t seem too concerned. He told me he’d only like to see them if I can get to them quickly. I showed him the rabies certificate and he sent us on our way.
We got to security and I took Leo out of his carrier and sent his carrier through the scanner. I carried him through with me and put him back in his carrier before heading to our gate.
While sitting at the gate I opened up his carrier so I could pet him to keep him calm. Once on the plane I zipped it back up and slid it under the seat in front of me. He started to yap a little so I put my hand up to the mesh so he could smell it. Smelling me seemed to calm him down and he was still and quiet by take off.
Once we landed, we found our next gate and sat down. I opened his carrier up and let him lay with it open on my lap. He got lots of attention from people in our gate. He was the man of the hour.
By the time we boarded the second flight, he was a pro! When I got him out from under the seat in front of me when we landed the guy beside me told me he had no idea he was traveling next to a dog! We collected our luggage and headed outside the airport where I finally got him out of his carrier. Free at last! I gave him lots of praise, and offered him some food and water before we got in the car.
He was a happy boy! 🙂