Fly with Your Dog

Do you ever just lose track of what day of the week it is? I do, all of the time. I was laying in bed last night thinking “Bummer, I have to wait until next week to write a Travel Tuesday post about my Austin trip” and then I realized that it was Monday. Whoops.

I work a normal 9-5, Monday-Friday job so when I have to travel and/or work over the weekend my days get all messed up. I had a work conference in Austin this past weekend and since my schedule wasn’t too heavy, I brought Joey. We stayed at the super chic Hotel Van Zandt and I have to say they spoiled Joey quite a bit. She got free toys upon check in and treats from almost every employee, it was really great to feel so welcome after a long day of travel.

Yes, travel be can stressful but flying with your dog doesn’t have to be overwhelming – it just takes some additional planning. Below are my top tips for flying with your dog.

Evaluate your schedule

If you’re going to be gone most of the day and your dog is going to be left alone, then don’t bring them. Being in a new place, like hotel or friend/family’s house, can be scary for them.

Purchase airfare in advance

All airlines have different requirements for paperwork, see links at end of the article. Be sure to do you research on the documentation they require and the deadline to submit. If your dog is not an emotional support animal, then airlines charge for your pet to be in the cabin.

Book the right seat

Sit towards the front of the plane so you can deplane faster and by a window so you’re out of the way. Sitting aisle opens your pup to more distractions as people walk by and well, no one likes to sit in the middle seat.

Emotional Support Animals not only fly free but do not need to be in carriers. They can be on the floor and on your lap (if they are a smaller than a two year old). Book a first class or seat with extra legroom when flying with your emotional support dog, you’ll need the extra room. Please note that by law, you cannot sit in an emergency exit row with a dog.

Reserve a pet friendly hotel

Most hotels allow dogs but be sure to check if they weight and/or breed restrictions. All require you to fill some paper and some charge a pet fee. Kimpton Hotels allow dogs for free so those are always a safe bet. All hotels list their pet policy on their website, I typically call in advance to let them know I am bringing a pet as well.

Limit food and water

No matter how long your flight is, you don’t want your dog to feel like they need to go to the bathroom on the trip. Joey typically eats twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening and this is how I ration her food prior to flying.

Early morning flight: no breakfast and light dinner the night prior

Midday flight: no breakfast

Afternoon/Evening flight: light breakfast

Make adjustments based on your dog’s eating schedule. I will give her treats while we are at the airport and on the plane so she isn’t starving and feed her as soon as we are settled. Also, limit their water intake for 6-8 hours before flying.

Tire your pup out

I always make sure that Joey is very active prior to travel, I’ll take her for a long walk and play with her quite a bit. Walking your dog is a great excuse to get out and explore a new city. Some people give their dogs Benadryl to fly, consult your vet on dosing.

Pack the right supplies

As I mentioned before, make sure you have plenty of treats for your dog. I also carry wet wipes, paper towels, poop bags, a toy or two and a small travel blanket. Don’t pick a toy that squeaks or makes a lot of noise, I like small rawhides for her to chew on. I use the travel blanket on the ground for Joey to lay on or put it on my lap if she’s sitting there. Wash the blanket at your destination (if possible) and first thing when you get home.

Comfort your dog

If you have an emotional support animal, then I recommend holding them on your lap during boarding, take-off and landing. If they can’t fit on your lap, then lean over and hug/pet them to make them feel safe as the plane is ascending or descending.

More and more people are starting to travel with their dogs, which is good and bad thing. The good news is that most airports these days have pet relief areas behind security, these are great for connections or when your flight is delayed. Some pet relief areas are small rooms or just a little turf pad like this one in the Philadelphia Airport.

The bad news is that people with not-so-friendly dogs are becoming more common. Please be conscious of your dog’s level of aggression towards other dogs so you don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

Finally, be prepared for EVERYONE to talk to you. They’ll tell you they have or had your same breed of dog, ask to pet them, tell you that they could never travel with their dog, etc. You may have been one of those people before but I hope you feel prepared now to travel with your dog! Comment below if you have any questions or any other tips.

List of Airline Pet Policies

Alaska Airlines Pet Policy

American Airlines Pet Policy

Delta Airlines Pet Policy

JetBlue Pet Policy

Southwest Pet Policy

United Airlines Pet Policy

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