Dogs on a Plane: How to Travel with Your Pup

Traveling with your dog can seem to be a very daunting task, but it is definitely not impossible! In fact, most of the time simply doing your research will make flying with your dog much easier.

When doing your research, it is best to find out the rules your specific airline has about dogs on their flights. It is also a good idea to find things like pet relief station locations at the airports that you will be visiting. Pet dogs and service dogs will almost always have different requirements and regulations when it comes to flying. Putting your dog on a plane can be a stressful experience for both you and your pup, so it is best to be prepared.

In this article, we will be explaining everything that dog owners need to know about flying with their dogs. This will include what you need to do to prepare for your flight as well as some helpful traveling tips. Let’s dive right into it!

Dog on plane in Terre Haute, IN

Checklist For Traveling With Your Dog

Before traveling with your dog, consider purchasing some helpful products that will make your flight with them much easier. Here is a short checklist of things that you will need on a flight with your dog.

  • An appropriately sized travel crate
  • A comfort item (like a toy or blanket)
  • Potty pads to line the travel crate with
  • Food and water bowls
  • Some dog food (especially for long travels)
  • Any paperwork that your dog needs to travel (passport, vaccination records, etc.)

Having these things packed and ready will make traveling with your dog on a plane much easier. Having a dog on a plane could be a stressful experience for them, so make sure you do your best to ensure the dog’s comfort for the flight’s duration.

Can Your Dog Travel in the Cabin With You?

Yes, your dog may be able to travel with you in the cabin of an airplane. However, not every dog will be allowed to do so. This is because most airlines will have a weight requirement that is under 20 pounds. Similarly, most airlines will require that your dog’s travel crate fits underneath the seat in front of you, and your dog must be able to stand up and turn around in this crate.

It is important to mention that these requirements will differ slightly depending on the airline. Similarly, pet dogs and working service dogs will always have different travel requirements when on an airplane.

Things You Need to Know Before Flying With Your Dog

It is always a good idea to do some research on the travel requirements for your dog before the flight. Here are some important things to know before flying with your dog.

Make Sure That You Know the Price of Flying Your Dog and Any Weight Limits

It is always important to make sure that your dog meets any weight limits well in advance. This applies to both small dogs that travel in the cabin, as well as larger dogs that will be traveling separately. Similarly, it is always a good idea to know the price of your dog’s travel in advance as well. If you have any questions about traveling with your pet, it is a good idea to get in contact with the airline ahead of time. This way they can answer any questions that you may have accurately, which will prevent complications on the day of your travels.

Make Sure Your Travel Crate Meets Airline Regulations

Airlines will have certain requirements on traveling with your dog. These regulations can change from airline to airline, and they may be different depending on if your dog will be traveling in the cabin or not. Knowing these regulations beforehand will prevent issues from occurring while traveling.

Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat or Drink Too Much Before the Flight

It is also important to mention that dogs really shouldn’t eat or drink too much before the flight, and they shouldn’t eat or drink during the flight either if it can be avoided. This is because dogs eating and drinking right before a flight is just more likely to make them need to use the bathroom while up in the air. Similarly, a dog eating right before the flight will make it more likely for them to get sick.

If you have a long way to travel with a dog, it is a good idea to take multiple flights with layovers. This way you can allow your dog to eat and use the bathroom in between flights.

Find Out Where the Pet Relief Stations Are at Your Airports

It is a good idea to know where the pet relief stations at your airports are. This way you can allow your dog to use the bathroom and stretch their legs for a while. Most airports will have a pet relief station, and you can usually find their locations online.

How to Prepare Your Dog for the Flight

There are also some things that you should do to prepare your dog for the flight. These things include acclimating your dog to their travel crate and visiting a vet before flying. Let’s get to it!

Visit Your Vet Before Flying

Visiting your vet before flying is important because it will ensure that your dog has a clean bill of health before flying. Plus, it is also a good chance to ensure that your dog is up to date on their vaccinations. If you are traveling internationally, it is important that your dog has the necessary vaccinations and paperwork from the vet before entering any foreign countries.

 Acclimate Your Dog to Their Kennel

It is also a good idea to acclimate your dog to their travel crate well before travel day. This will prepare your dog for the trip and likely reduce their anxiety while traveling. It is also a good idea to do things like getting your dog used to being in their crate while moving. You can practice this by placing your dog in their crate, and carrying them around like you would at the airport. This way these actions will be less frightening for them on travel day.

Are the Rules Different for Service Dogs?

Yes, the regulations for flying with a service dog are different from those for pet dogs. This is because many disabled people will need a service dog to perform a task that ensures their safety, and these individuals will still need the aid of their service dog during a flight.

Large breed service dogs are permitted to be in the cabin with their handler as long as they are on a leash or tethered throughout the duration of the flight. However, your service dog will need to be well behaved in order to do this. Some airlines may require extra paperwork as well.


Overall, putting your dog on a plane is more work than traveling alone. If you must travel with your dog, you now know the best practices to make both you and your pup’s flying experience go smoothly. While traveling with your dog can be fun, exciting, or even stressful, there is always the option to board them at home. Talk to your vet before traveling to figure out the best option for you and your pet!

Do you have any questions about traveling with your dog on a plane? Brown Veterinary Hospital in Terre Haute, IN is here to help! Reach out at 812-645-0715 or make an appointment today.

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About Brown Veterinary Hospital

We are here to serve as your partner in keeping your four-legged family member healthy, ensuring you have all the tools you need to provide them with a lifetime of outstanding care. Our animal hospital in Terre Haute offers a full range of services to nurture and extend your pet’s life, from wellness and preventative care to critical care, exotic pet care, and dermatology.