Tips for Flying With a Small Dog
Have you ever wanted to take a trip with your small dog but you were too afraid to fly with them?
Not to worry! We travel quite frequently with our small dog, Marcy, and I’ve compiled my best tips for flying with a small dog. Keep in mind that every dog is different and while all of these work well for us, some of these tips might not work for your furry friend. If your flight is very long and you are worried about your pup, consider a layover to space things out for them.
Take bathroom breaks beforehand (even before you get into the airport)!
Always always always make your dog use the bathroom at home before you leave. Start getting them to go an hour before you leave, don’t wait until the last 5 minutes before you need to leave the house! If that doesn’t work try getting them to go outside the airport before entering security.
They do have “pet relief” areas at all airports, but Marcy hates them, so this can be a real struggle for us. They smell pretty bad and are fake grass, which she is not a fan of. Boo! It’s never a bad idea to at least make a pit stop to try at one of them before boarding though. On a positive note, they always have poop bags, so we like to grab a couple just in case.
Rethink their food schedule on travel days.
The first time we traveled with Marcy on a plane we noticed that she was a little stressed that morning and didn’t eat or drink before we left home. Turns out, this was exactly what we needed her to do! If we are taking off in the morning (before noon), we don’t feed her breakfast that morning. We do keep her water bowl out, but she is pretty small and doesn’t normally drink a ton unless it’s super hot out or after playing. This hasn’t caused any problems for us as she isn’t a big eater, more of a grazer. If she were to start acting hungry, or upset, a few little treats throughout the trip will do to help curb her hunger/distract her for a bit. When we land we feed her the missed breakfast and follow our normal dinner routine. Every dog is different when it comes to food, but this works the best for us.
If we are flying later in the day, we feed her as normal in the morning but keep trying before we leave to get her to go to the bathroom. We hold off on dinner until we arrive at our final destination, no matter what time.
We try to tire her out by running around with her in the airport by finding an area that isn’t so busy. She may be 8 years old, but she’s still spunky! That normally does the trick to get her more comfortable and a little more apt to sleep/relax on the plane.
If we have a flight later in the day, we make sure to go for a walk or hike in the morning, if we have time.
Practice in their travel bag
All dogs must be in a travel bag that can fit under the seat in front of you. Buy your favorite and get them used to hanging out in it near you. This is so important because they will have to be inside the bag the entire flight! We did this when Marcy was a baby, and she’s 8 years old now. She LOVES her bag (we call it her “home”)! Her bag is close to 8 years old now, but here is a great option that is similar. This one is super chic and makes me wish we would’ve thought ahead a bit and purchased one that looks a little better!
Dogs go through security too!
Think through how you will go through security with your dog. You don’t want to be holding up the line getting your dog unleashed and prepped. You have to take them out of their carrier (we also take her harness/leash off) and walk through the basic metal detector. After walking through they will swab both of your hands and place those swabs into a machine for testing, so plan for a little extra time. Although, most times I make it through before my husband does, but still plan ahead. :)
This can be scary for small dogs! Marcy can be very skiddish and scared of new people and things, but after her first flight she felt way more comfortable. They are right next to you the entire time, and once they realize that, it should help to calm them down. Now, it is a breeze for her and she just sleeps. Actual photo below of her sleeping on a flight from a few years ago. Haha!
Reserve your dogs spot in advance
Most airlines require you contact them in advance when traveling with a dog. I believe they only allow so many dogs per plane, so as soon as you book your flight, call your airline. Fees are different for each airline, but I’ve found that most airlines charge $75-$100 per leg of each flight, per dog.
Pack your carry on smart
It’s always wise to bring a copy of your dog’s medical records, just in case. A digital copy is normally what we do. Pack a few of your dog’s favorite treats and a collapsible bowl in your carry on for snack and water breaks. Airplane cabins can be very dehydrating, so after you land they might be quite thirsty!
Dogs feed off of your energy, so chill out and remember everyone loves dogs… more so than crying babies. :) I’ve not done it before, but I do know that they have CBD oil for dogs. Perhaps look into that if your dog is extremely anxious.
A final note…all airline policies are different, but oftentimes having a dog on the plane will limit how many bags you are able to carry on. Make sure to plan ahead by researching or contacting your airline in advance for the correct information.
I plan on writing another post on traveling/ travel tips with dogs in the near future, so look for that! If you have any general dog travel questions or particular concerns, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure to address them. Thanks for stopping by!