Flying with a Large Dog: Tips to Make the Trip Stress-Free

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated July 1, 2024

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Flying with a Large Dog: Tips to Make the Trip Stress-Free 

Traveling with your large dog can be a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation and the right approach, you and your pup can have a stress-free journey. From choosing the right airline to packing the necessary items, we’ll cover everything you need to know about flying with a large dog.

Benefits of Flying with Your Pet

Traveling with pets can provide a number of benefits. Firstly, companion animals provide therapeutic value. According to a study by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, spending time with animals can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Additionally, flying with your pet can be more cost-effective than kenneling them and more stress-free than having them stay with a pet sitter.

Choosing the Right Airline

When it comes to flying with a large dog, it’s important to choose the right airline. Different airlines have different policies when it comes to bringing a pet on board, so it’s important to do your research ahead of time. A few things to keep in mind when looking for an airline are the size of the carrier they accept, the number of pets they allow in the cabin, and any extra fees they may charge. It’s also important to be aware of any breed restrictions or other restrictions that may be in place. 

When it comes to domestic travel, there are three airlines that do accept large dogs in the cargo hold area of the plane. The three airlines are American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. If you are traveling internationally, then the worries of which airline will accept large dogs evaporate, as most, if not all, airlines take large dogs to travel internationally.

Preparing Your Dog for Travel

Before you take off, it’s important to make sure you’ve packed the right items. Make sure you have a carrier that is large enough for your pup and that it meets the requirements of the airline. It’s also important to pack food and water for your pup, as well as any necessary medications. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring toys and treats to provide comfort and reassurance during the flight. 

Furthermore, it’s best to be prepared with two essentials that will make or break the trip. One, you need to have a health certificate called a CVI (Certificate of Veterinary Inspection) signed by a vet registered with the USDA. This should be done, along with the required vaccinations, like the rabies vaccine, at least 14 days before your trip. 

You also need to invest in a good crate that will last a long time. Here are some cargo hold crate requirements that airlines have. 

  • Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and not be able to touch the top of the crate.
  • The crate needs to have secure locking with pins that extend past the extrusions above and below the door. The pins should be hardware instead of plastic fasteners.
  • The crate needs to be ventilated on all sides.
  • The crate needs to have your pet’s name and your contact information (which is more for identification than for safety reasons).
  • Water and food bowls need to be attached to the door and accessible from outside the crate.

Making the Flight Easier

If possible, it’s best to book a direct flight. This will reduce the amount of time your pup has to spend in the carrier and make for an easier journey. Arrive to the airport early. Additionally, if you can, it’s best to try and secure a spot in the cabin for your pet. Many airlines have pet-friendly cabins, and this can make the flight much more comfortable for your pup.

Tips for After Arrival

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, it’s important to give your pup some time to adjust. Allow them to explore their new surroundings at their own pace, and try to avoid forcing them into unfamiliar situations. Additionally, it’s important to take extra precautions when in unfamiliar places. Make sure they’re always on a leash and never leave them unattended. Lastly, you should be patient with your adorable doggo.

Wrapping Up

Flying with your dog doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. With the right preparation and the right approach, you and your pup can have a stress-free journey. From researching airline policies to packing the right items, following these tips will help ensure that you and your pup have a safe and comfortable flight.