Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is the topic of flying with dogs, and how to make it the best experience for both human and animal. I’ve flown with my dog on a number of occasions, and have often wondered how the altitude changes and flying sensations translated to my four-legged friend. I’ve done some researching into what to consider when flying with your dog, and if maybe they should be left on the ground.
I’ve found that taking your dog flying is a bucket list item for many private pilots. Being able to take your dog on flying trips with you can be very appealing, but please consider the following before heading to the airport.
Legally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the final say in the transportation of pets by aircraft. The general requirements say the pet must be at least 8 weeks old and have a clean bill of health. Further, if a pet is going to cross state borders it must have a rabies immunization and a valid health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within 30 days of travel. Additional considerations must be made if you plan to fly outside of the country, so contact the foreign office of your destination country to get more information.
The health of your dog is the next thing to consider. It is a good idea to take them to a veterinarian within 30 days of the flight, and specifically ask if there are any issues that may make it unsafe for your pet to fly. Certain medications may be an issue or extra stress from the flying experience may be too much for some dogs. Most veterinarians agree that it is completely unnecessary to sedate a dog for air travel, and careful planning and patience can make it a good experience for everyone.