What Happens to Dogs in Cargo During Layovers: Full Guide

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated May 31, 2023

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Traveling with pets can be challenging, especially when it comes to long flights with layovers. As a pet owner, you may be concerned about what happens to your dog during these layovers, especially if they travel in the cargo hold. In this comprehensive guide, we aim to provide detailed information about what happens to dogs in cargo during layovers and how airlines ensure their comfort throughout the journey.

Understanding Air Travel and Cargo Holds for Dogs

To better grasp the safety measures taken for dogs during layovers, it’s essential to understand how air travel works for pets and the conditions in cargo holds.

  1. Pet-Friendly Airlines: Many airlines are pet-friendly, accommodating the needs of traveling animals. They follow strict guidelines and regulations to ensure the safety and comfort of pets in cargo holds during flights and layovers.
  2. Cargo Holds: The cargo hold is a pressurized and temperature-controlled compartment within the aircraft, specifically designed to transport animals and other sensitive items. This environment is intended to keep pets comfortable and safe throughout the journey, including layovers.

Safety Measures Taken During Layovers

Airlines take various measures to ensure that pets are safe and comfortable during layovers. These measures include:

  1. Temperature Control: Airlines maintain a consistent temperature in the cargo hold throughout the flight and layovers. This ensures that dogs don’t experience extreme temperature fluctuations, which could cause stress or health issues.
  2. Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is provided in the cargo hold, allowing dogs to breathe comfortably during layovers. This is essential for their well-being and prevents respiratory issues.
  3. Pet Handlers: Many airlines employ trained pet handlers responsible for monitoring and attending to pets’ needs during layovers. They ensure that dogs have access to water and are comfortable during the layover period.
  4. Short Layovers: If possible, choosing flights with shorter layovers is advisable. This minimizes your dog’s time in the cargo hold and reduces the potential for stress.

Pre-Travel Preparations for Your Dog

To further ensure your dog’s safety and comfort during layovers, you can take specific steps to prepare them for air travel:

  1. Health Check: Schedule a visit to your veterinarian before the trip to ensure that your dog is healthy and fit for air travel. Obtain a health certificate and ensure that your dog’s vaccinations are current.
  2. Proper Crate: Invest in a sturdy, well-ventilated crate that meets airline requirements. The crate should be large enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.
  3. Identification: Attach identification tags to your dog’s collar and crate. Include your name, address, phone number, and final destination. This will help airline staff locate and identify your dog during layovers.
  4. Acclimate Your Dog: Before the trip, acclimate your dog to the crate by allowing them to spend time inside it. This will help them feel more comfortable during air travel and layovers.

What to Do If Your Dog Requires Special Care

In case your dog has special needs or requires extra care, consider the following:

  1. Inform the Airline: Notify the airline about your dog’s specific needs and requirements, and discuss the available options to ensure their comfort during layovers.
  2. Medications: If your dog requires medication, provide the necessary supplies and instructions to the pet handlers, ensuring that they can administer the medications during layovers if needed.
  3. Choose Direct Flights: Flying a dog with special needs, it may be best to choose a direct flight to avoid layovers altogether. This minimizes the potential for stress and ensures that your dog’s needs are met throughout the journey.
  1. Hire a Pet Travel Specialist: If you’re concerned about your dog’s well-being during layovers, consider hiring a pet travel specialist. These professionals can help coordinate and manage your pet’s travel arrangements, ensuring their safety and comfort at every step of the journey.

FAQs: What Happens to Dogs in Cargo During Layovers

To provide further clarity, we’ve compiled answers to some frequently asked questions about dogs in cargo during layovers.

What is the cheapest way to transport a pet?

Typically, ground transport is the cheapest way to transport a pet.  Longer trips using a transportation service, like CitizenShipper, typically average around $1.00 per mile.  Using a pet transportation service ensures your pet arrives in your new location safely, while minimizing stress and overall cost. 

How much does it cost to ship a pet internationally? 

While shipping your pet domestically is a relatively straightforward process, international shipping can be more complicated.  Hiring a pet transport service to help with international logistics can save a tremendous amount of stress and time.  

Each country of arrival will have specific regulations regarding pet health checks, necessary vaccination, and possible quarantine requirements.  The cost to ship a pet internationally can vary, especially if you need to board your pet for an extended quarantine. 

How much does it cost to transport cats?

The cost to transport cats will vary depending on the transport method.  Cats can be transported via ground or air transit, and are often small enough to be considered a “carry on” item.  Transporting a cat can cost as little as $25 on Amtrak, or as much as $125 to fly in the main cabin of an airplane.

How much does it cost to travel with a small pet?

Traveling with a small pet, compared to a large pet, is much cheaper.  Smaller pets can fit under the seat in front of you and can often qualify as a “carry on” item.  Traveling with small pets on Amtrak can cost $25, while airlines can charge around $125.  Keep in mind certain companies will only allow cats and dogs to travel.  

What does it cost to ship a puppy?

While puppies are small enough to fly in most airline cabins, they can incur additional costs.  Puppies generally require more attention, and therefore can be more expensive than shipping an adult dog or cat.  

Many breeders will utilize an air nanny service to accompany your puppy.  If the air nanny is experienced, or a regular, certain airlines may provide discounted rates or waive certain fees.  Breeders regularly ship puppies to their new homes and are well-versed in arranging transportation.  

Bottom Line:

Understanding what happens to dogs in cargo during layovers is crucial for pet owners planning air travel. By choosing pet-friendly airlines, making necessary pre-travel preparations, and taking steps to ensure your dog’s comfort, you can help minimize potential stress and ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for your furry companion.