I was shocked by the story of a Michigan woman whose beloved Golden Retriever, Jacob, was mishandled and later died after being on a United Airlines flight from Detroit to Portland Oregon.
The airline assured her every precaution was taken with her dog by their PetSafe program, however, Kathleen Considine wasn't satisfied with their flimsy excuses and turned to social media for help in spreading the word about Jacob's fatal trip. It worked and now thousands of people are sharing this horrible tragedy in hopes of keeping other pet parents from having to go through the same heartache.
After reading her story, it occurred to me that perhaps people don't know how to properly prepare their dogs for a flight. This sad truth has prompted me to consult with the experts and put together a list to (hopefully) help prevent this type of accident from happening to other pet parents and their beloved fur babies.
Please. Don't fly with your dog without reading these…
Flying With a Dog? Follow These Helpful Tips to Keep Fido Safe
Most airlines have strict policies concerning canine passengers. And unless your pet is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, sadly your dog will end up riding in the belly of the plane in the cargo hold. To help you get your pooch ready for this stressful ride, follow these helpful tips.
1. Does My Dog Have the Right Temperament to Fly?
Before you do anything you should determine if your dog has the right temperament to endure a flight. Canine's that tend to be anxious in new situations or those that are high energy will most likely not do well on a flight.
In addition, if your dog is going to be in the cabin with you, most airlines (and passengers) will insist your dog is quiet and well-behaved.
2. Do Your Airline Research
If you are planning to fly with your dog, be sure to call all the airlines you plan on using to ensure they have room available for your canine companion. This is especially important if your dog is going into the cargo hold and/or needs to make a connecting flight.
To help with your research, BarkPost has listed many of the major airlines with their canine passenger fees and the number of pets they can accommodate; however still be sure to call your airline to ensure their policies haven't changed.
3. Get the Best Airline Pet Carrier For Your Dog
Before you stick your dog into just any ole pet carrier, you will need to know the airline's requirements for flying with a dog. However, according to K9 of Mine, and the International Air Travel Association (IATA) you can expect the following stipulations:
- Sizing. The carrier needs to have adequate room in both the front and back of the kennel. This is measured by the dog's body length, plus half the leg length, In addition, your dog's ears cannot touch the top of the kennel when in a full standing position.
- Metal Nuts & Bolts. Plastic fasteners are not allowed on an aircraft kennel.
- Metal Door. The carrier must have a solid metal door to prevent the dog from breaking it or pulling it in on itself. The door must also be zip-tied closed to prevent escape.
- Food & Water Dishes. Food and water dishes must be separate and placed on the inside of the door in the kennel. This ensures the crew will not have to open the door to feed/water your dog.
- Pet Info/Feeding Instructions. All your dog's personal information, final destination location and feeding instructions must be on top of the kennel along with a small bag of your dog's food. 'Live Animal' and 'This Way Up' stickers both need to be affixed to the top of the carrier, as well.
- Safety Ridges. Kennels must have a ¾ inch safety ridge all around it to protect the dog from biting through and possibly injuring a crew member.
- Ventilation Holes. These must be ventilation openings on all four or two sides of the kennel (depending on the airline).
4. Health Certificate for Your Dog
Your dog should have a recent (within 10 days) veterinarian signed health certificate stating that he/she is well-and-able to fly. Even if your particular airline doesn't insist on this, it's best to err on the side of caution and get Fido checked over. You can now purchase doggy "passports" which is a convenient way to store all your pet's information in one neat little booklet.
5. Pack All Your Dog's Necessities in a Separate Bag
Airlines are notorious for losing people's luggage, don't let your pet's belongings be one of them. Pack everything your dog needs (food, toys, medications, treats etc.) in a separate bag. This ensures you'll have exactly what Fido needs in case of a luggage-snafu.
Additional Tips & Hints When Flying With a Dog
- No food/water. Don't feed your dog the morning of the flight and take away his water two hours before departure. This helps ensure there will be no accidents in the kennel or vomiting due to airsickness.
- Long Walk. Take your pooch for a long walk before you leave for the airport. This gives your dog a chance to relieve himself and also to work off some of that excess energy.
- Kennel Lining. If you are taking a small dog onto the flight with you, be sure to line her kennel in a DryFur lining. This helps to whisk away moisture in case of an accident.
- Gauge Your Dog On Flight. You don't want to load your pup up with water, but you also don't want her to become dehydrated. Try giving your dog an ice cube on the flight to help keep her from becoming too thirsty.
- Airplane Temperatures. Some airplanes have floor ventilation systems, so your dog may become cold. Be sure to pack a towel or small blanket to help block the draft. Additionally, putting a t-shirt or other item of clothing in the kennel with your pup will help calm those nerves with your familiar scent.
- Follow Airport Rules. Most airports will not allow you to take your dog out of the kennel, except to go through security. This is where your pet carrier will go through the xray and your dog should be securely in your arms.
- Pet Relief Stations. If you have a layover, look for a pet relief station in the airport. These are specially designed for dogs to go potty on.
- Sedatives. Only use sedatives for your dog as a last resort and only by the recommendations of your veterinarian. These types of medications can have side effects and adverse effects on canines, so use with caution.
- Know the Signs. After your flight be sure to gauge how your dog is doing. If she is showing signs of lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, collapse, difficulty breathing or the gums are turning purple or blue, be sure to get emergency treatment ASAP.
Make Flying With a Dog a Safe Experience
Flying with a dog doesn't have to turn into a tragedy. Follow these helpful hints and tips on NolongerWild.com to get your pooch from one destination to another safely and soundly.