Can Dogs Fly on Planes?

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Introduction

With summer coming up, many people are getting more and more excited about going on vacation. It’s a great time to kick back and relax! However, if you’re flying, it may not be a very relaxing trip for your pup, if he or she is coming too. 

There is a lot of debate about whether or not you should take your pup on a plane ride, but when it comes to if they can fly on planes, yes, they can. Airlines have different policies about flying your pup, but dogs are able to go on planes. However, flying makes some humans anxious and can do the same to - you guessed it - your furry companion. It’s important to keep this in mind as you make travel plans.

The first thing to note is there is more than one way your dog can fly on a plane. If you have a smaller dog or a service dog, often times, you can take your dog on the plane to sit with you. Every airline has different rules about this. So, It’s important to check that out. You can also fly your dog in their crate as cargo. It’s also important to know that you have a compliant crate. So, again, be sure to check all of the rules as you’re planning your trip.

Signs Your Dog Might be Becoming Anxious

If your dog flies with you as a “checked” item, it’s important to keep an eye on them the whole flight. It’s hard to say how your dog will react. So, it’s crucial to watch for any cues that clue you into your dog being stressed. 

Also, even if your dog has flown well in the past, it doesn’t mean they won’t have a panic attack on a different flight. If your dog is distressed, you might notice them drooling, shaking, tucking their tail, pinning their ears, urinating, and even becoming aggressive. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything your dog might do if they are stressed, it’s a good start to watch for these signs.

If your dog is flying as cargo, you probably won’t see them until after your flight. So, you won’t be able to observe them during your flight. However, it’s still important to check on them as soon as you land and make sure they aren’t also exhibiting signs of stress. 

No matter how your pup flies, it’s important to do a few things after you land and are in a place where you can let your pup out of their carrier or crate. Flights can be long, so make sure you let him or her out to stretch their legs, maybe take a walk, or play a game with them. Make sure they have water and get plenty to drink. Also, make sure they get plenty to eat and that they get a bathroom break. If your dog seems especially sick, you might need to see a vet. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your pup is getting stressed:
  • Shaking
  • Drooling
  • Tail tucking
  • Ears back

Other Signs

Things you need to do for your dog once you get off the plane (especially if they had a rough flight) include:
  • Take them for a walk
  • Get them water
  • Give them a good meal
  • Play a game with them
  • Give them a potty break

History of Dogs and Planes

The first passenger flight was established in January of 1914. It went between different cities in Florida. So, it was a relatively short flight. Today, thousands of flights take off and land at thousands of airports all over the world. Flying is a very popular way to travel. There isn’t much recorded about the first time a dog was taken on a flight, but it’s safe to say that they’ve probably been flying with us for quite a while.

As mentioned, there has been a lot of debate about whether it is safe to take your pup on a flight or not. In recent times, there have been several stories on the news about airlines shipping pups to the wrong destinations. There was even a recent scandal that involved a flight attendant telling a passenger that they had to keep their dog in the overhead bin on a plane. In a sad series of events, the dog passed away.

So, if you decide to take your pup traveling with you, make sure you know your airline’s rules, what the fee for your pup to fly will be, and make sure you know what you can and can’t do with your pup on airplanes.

Science of Dogs and Planes

There has been very little research done on dogs flying, according to NCBI. However, we know that dogs have sensitive senses of hearing and smell. The smells and sounds can be hard for some humans with significantly weaker senses to stomach. So, it’s understandable why your K9 companion might, in fact, be extremely stressed out. Your dog might also love flying - it really depends on the dog.

Training Your Dog to be More Calm on a Plane Ride

Some dog owners have to travel quite a bit for work or other reasons, and they need to take their K9 companions with them. So, what should you do to help your dog learn to better cope with flying? 

Well, first it’s important to understand that every dog really does react differently and they will react differently in every situation. So, there’s no surefire way to predict exactly what your pup needs. However, some people swear by a few different methods. Cesar Millan says that you can try using lavender oil on your hands and let your pup sniff your hands to calm them down. He also says that while you might not be stressed about flying, your pup might sense that you are stressed about them being anxious and become more anxious. So, stay calm.

It’s also important to pack a little bag of treats, food, a bowl, pee pads, maybe a quiet toy or two, a blanket, and other items your pup might enjoy. You’ll need these things at your destination anyway, and it’s good to be prepared for anything while in flight with your pup. If you have a layover, find a station where your dog can relieve themself and stretch their legs.

So, can dogs fly on planes? Yes! However, it’s important for you to be a good dog mom or dad and know your pup's limits. If they are too scared of flying, it might be better to leave them with a trusted family member or friend when you travel, or have them stay at a kennel.

Safety Tips for Flying with Dogs:

  • Be very familiar with the airline's regulations in regards to pets.
  • Do whatever you need to do to ensure your dog's safety.
  • Make sure your dog is comfortable in a crate.
  • Calm and soothe your pooch before and after the flight.