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How to travel on a plane with your dog

Some dogs may find air travel stressful, but taking your dog abroad can really make a holiday and once there, your dog may be happier with you than staying at home. If you’re ready to take the plunge with your pooch, read on for advice on taking your dog on a plane.

Pet Passport

You’ll need a pet passport for your dog which will include details of ownership and vaccinations. Speak to your vet about getting your dog’s passport completed.

Cabin or hold?­­­

Most airlines will allow guide dogs to travel in the cabin with the owner and some airlines will allow pet dogs under a certain size to travel in a pet carrier under the seat in front. Other airlines will only allow pets to travel in the hold.

Contact the airline

Tell the airline in advance that you plan to take your dog on a flight; you won’t be able to just turn up on the day with them. Find out the airline’s policies on pet travel and how much it will cost to travel with your dog. Most airlines will allow guide dogs to travel for free.

Pet carriers

If you’re able to take your dog in the cabin with you, take time to choose a suitable pet carrier which will be large enough for your dog to feel comfortable in but within the size requirements of your chosen airline. Buy a pet carrier well in advance so that your dog can spend time becoming familiar with it at home.

Cargo hold crates

If your dog will be travelling in the hold of the aircraft, you’ll need to source a suitable crate. Just like a carrier, you’ll want to get your dog acclimatised to the crate prior to travelling.

Airport sounds

Before travelling, play sounds of airplanes taking off and the hustle and bustle of the airport to your dog so that they are less likely to be startled by the sounds when you travel.

Making your dog comfortable

During the flight, put an item of your clothing in the carrier or crate so that your dog can feel comforted by your smell. Their favourite toy can also put them at ease.

Take your dog for a long walk prior to the flight so that they are more likely to feel happy lying still during the flight and to give them plenty of opportunity to relieve themselves. Some airports have pet relief areas that your dog can visit if they need to use the toilet just before the flight. It’s also a good idea to visit a dog relief area at the destination airport just after you land.

Keep it short

It’s best to take short, direct flights to limit the amount of stress on your dog and the likelihood of them needing the toilet during the flight. A short flight is also a good test for the first time your dog flies so that you can assess how suited they are to plane travel in the future.

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