“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right”

- Mark Twain

Travel With Your Pet Safely


Travel With Your Pet Safely – Though rules vary from airline to airline, your dog can typically only fly in the cabin—a.k.a. as a carry-on—if they are small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you.

Any larger than that, and your pup will have to travel in the cargo hold, with the luggage and freight.

Most airlines will allow you to take a cat or small dog in the cabin for an additional fee.

But you must call the airline well in advance; there are limits to the number of animals allowed in the cabin. If you are transporting your dog, make sure they meet the size requirements.

You can’t buy an extra seat for your dog.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Traveling with a dog this way, essentially as carry-on luggage, usually incurs a lower fee than if it travels in the belly of the plane.

And by the way, a pet in its carrier counts as your carry-on bag.

A 40-pound dog is indeed too large to travel in-cabin on most (if not all) airlines and will have to ride as cargo.

Apart from very small pets, only trained and certified service or support dogs with legitimate documentation are sometimes allowed to accompany their owners in-cabin.

Can large dogs fly in first class? 

No airlines currently allow large dogs in-cabin.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – When we say large, we are referring to dogs that cannot fit under a plane seat in an airline-approved pet carrier.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Pets Traveling in The Cabin

The safest way for any animal to fly is in the cabin as carry-on luggage, provided that’s an option.

A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel.

The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of you and remain there at all times.

The maximum dimensions for hard-sided kennels are 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high (44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm).

Documentation That is Require for Pet Travel

In Europe, you will need an E.U.health certificate issued by a U.S. Agriculture Department-accredited veterinarian and endorsed by your state USDA office.

The document must contain vaccination and rabies records, plus proof of a tapeworm test, depending on the country.

In Europe, you will need an E.U.health certificate issued by a U.S. Agriculture Department-accredited veterinarian and endorsed by your state USDA office.

The document must contain vaccination and rabies records, plus proof of a tapeworm test, depending on the country.

You will need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection to travel and some airlines require an acclimation certificate.

Both of these certificates can only be completed and signed by a federally accredited veterinarian.

Health and vaccination requirements: All animals entering the US must have a valid certificate of rabies vaccination, with vaccinations completed at least 30 days before arriving in the US.

Some believe air travel is simply too stressful for most animals, especially when they are placed in an aircraft’s cargo hold.

Undeniably, cargo is the more dangerous option for pet travel.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Checking Pets in As Cargo

When checking a pet, you need to:

Contact Reservations at least 48 hours prior to travel.
Check in at the ticket counter with your official orders.
Allow extra check-in time (at least 2 hours and no more than 4 hours before your flight)
Complete a checklist with an agent.
Provide a health certificate.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in most cases, dogs should not be given sedatives or tranquilizers prior to flying because they can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems as the dog is exposed to increased altitude pressures.

Pet-Deaths-United-Airlines-Pets-Not Safe-High-Heat

Do Pets Die While Being Transported on Airlines?

Of the 506,994 animals that flew on U.S. commercial air carriers last year, 24 died in transit.

And 18 of those deaths — 75 percent — occurred on United Airlines (Spirit, Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin America do not transport animals on their planes as cargo, though some small pets are allowed as carry-ons).

More dogs die on United than on any other airline.

Of the 506,994 animals that flew on U.S. commercial air carriers last year, 24 died in transit.

And 18 of those deaths — 75 percent — occurred on United Airlines.

Even so, people saw these disproportionately high numbers from 2017 as evidence that United has a history of mistreating animals, and that the airline is inherently less safe for transporting animals than any other major U.S. carrier.

What Paperwork Do I Need to Import my Pet to Europe?

Implantation and certification of an ISO Microchip. 

Europe operates on a different frequency from the United States.

Only the veterinarian who implants the microchip can sign the required microchip implementation form.

Three-year rabies vaccination, which must be done AFTER the ISO Microchip.

Both the rabies and the microchip can be done in the same day, but the vaccination must come second.

Both must be administered at least 21 days prior to departure.

Ten days before departing for the EU, visit your veterinarian for an international health certificate and an EU veterinary certificate.

You have 10 days to enter the destination country before the paperwork expires.

Make an appointment with the USDA (coming form the US). 

The international health certificate, the EU veterinary certificate, and the microchip implementation form must be endorsed by a USDA APHIS. You can choose to schedule an appointment with the nearest location or overnighting the paperwork.

Norway required an echinococcosis (tapeworm) treatment given a minimum of 24 and maximum of 120 hours before arrival.

Along with the other paperwork, the treatment required approval from the USDA veterinarian. 

Be sure to ask your local vet write the date and time in both your current timezone, and the one to which you’re traveling. 

This can be confusing as neither Pacific Standard Time, nor Central European Time maybe listed on forms.

With a nine hour time difference, this can affect meeting the requirements for inoculation.

Call customs at the final destination airport 24 hours prior to arrival. 

Not every EU country requires meeting with customs upon arrival.

Determine in advance whether you need to make this call.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Steps for Getting Your Pet Import Paperwork

Research the requirements for your destination country.

Generally speaking, it’s always the same: rabies, microchip, and health medical certificate.

If you’re traveling from a country of high risk rabies to one that is not, then you may need a titer test. 

You will then have to wait three months after the test date to enter. 

PetTravel.com helps with initial research. 

Then go to the USDA APHIS site for export requirements by country.

Always double check with the official government websites for animal importing.

The earlier you do this the better.

Make an appointment with the USDA, if in the U.S. In other countries, schedule an appointment with your respective animal exporting government office. 

Appointments can fill up so do this at least 30 days in advance.

Schedule your appointment no more than five days of departure or prior your arrival date.

This is because your EU health certificate is only valid for 10 days.

The official government paperwork is good for four months from the issue date, permitted the rabies vaccine doesn’t expire.

Make an appointment with your local accredited veterinarian. 

Arrange this appointment no more than 10 days before arrival.

Get your EU Health certificate certified at the USDA APHIS.

Proven Tips for Flying with Fido

Taking his first flight can be a somewhat traumatic experience for a dog that’s used to sticking his head out the car window and enjoying the sights along the way.

After all, his view just won’t be the same from underneath the seat in front of you, or even worse, from the cargo hold.

But getting there can still be half the fun if you follow the ten tips below and make sure you’re familiar with the Airline Pet Policy, restrictions on Pet Travel in the US, and any additional International Pet Travel restrictions at your destination.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Book Early

Most airlines only allow one or two dogs on each flight, so it’s important to book your dog’s ticket as soon as possible.

Don’t buy your ticket until you call the airline and make sure there is a “seat” available for your dog on the flight.

Once the agent has confirmed availability, reserve both your seats on the same ticket while you’re still on the phone with the agent.

Fly Direct

Book a non-stop, direct flight whenever possible and try to fly on a weekday when airports are typically less hectic.

If your pet will be traveling in the cargo hold, it’s best to fly in the morning or evening during the summer, and midday during the winter to avoid extremely hot or cold temperatures.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Visit the Veterinarian

Make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for a check-up and make sure all vaccinations are up to date.

Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of departure.

For travel outside the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements may be necessary.

Visit our International Pet Travel or contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to for more information.

Buy A Carrier

Whether your dog is a Chihuahua or a Great Dane, there’s a pet carrier to match. Carriers are available in both hard-sided and soft-sided.

Soft-sided carriers are more suitable for carry-on and tend to fit better under the seat, but they’re only permitted in the cabin only.

To make sure the carrier will fit under the seat on your flight check the size restrictions of the airline in our Airline Pet Policies section.

If your dog will be traveling in the cargo hold, purchase a hard plastic carrier with holes for ventilation instead.

Carriers must be big enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. If the carrier does not permit him to do this, the airline will refuse transport.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Identification

After you’ve purchased an appropriate carrier, write your dog’s name on it and include identification tags with your home address and phone number as well as the address and phone number of someone who can be reached at your destination.

Carry a current photograph of your pet as well. If he’s lost during the trip, a photograph will make it much easier for airline employees or the local authorities to search effectively.

You might also want to consider a permanent form of id (such as a microchip or tattoo) that will increase the likelihood of reuniting with your dog if he gets lost on the trip.

Take a Test Drive

Animals travel under less stress when they are accustomed to their carrier before they travel.

In the weeks prior to your trip, put your dog in his carrier as often as possible for trips around town.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Eat, Drink, Then Poop

Since a full stomach might be uncomfortable for your dog during travel, we recommend feeding him about four hours before the flight, if possible.

While it’s best to refrain from feeding your dog right before the flight, you can (and should) continue to give him water right up to the time of travel.

Just be sure to empty the dish before checking in so it doesn’t spill during the flight.

If you’re checking the dog, leave the dishes in the carrier so an airline employee can provide your pet with food and water in the event of an extended delay before or after your flight.

You should also exercise your pet and let him use the facilities (i.e. grass) before heading to the airport.

Arrive Early

Arrive at the airport early, but not too early, and have your dog’s health certificate handy.

You will not be allowed to check your pet in more than four hours before the flight.

Most airlines recommend arriving two hours before your flight when traveling with a pet.

Passengers with pets must check-in at the counter; curbside and self service check-in are not allowed.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Don’t Take a Valium

We don’t mind if you take a valium before the flight, but don’t give your pet tranquilizers just because you’re nervous.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in most cases, dogs should not be given sedatives or tranquilizers prior to flying because they can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems as the dog is exposed to increased altitude pressures.

They can also alter the animal’s natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium, which can be dangerous when the carrier is moved.

While sedation is generally not advised, the decision on whether or not to prescribe a tranquilizer for your pet should be made by your veterinarian.

If he or she decides that tranquilizers are medically necessary for the trip, indicate the name of the drug taken and the dosage on the dog’s carrier.


When you arrive at your destination, go for a long walk before you check-in at the hotel.

Your dog will feel more comfortable as soon as he sees (and smells) his new surroundings, and realizes that the same rules and boundaries apply here too.

By the time you check into the hotel, your dog will already feel right and home and be ready for whatever adventures are in store for him that week.

Travel With Your Pet Safely – Packing List

Don’t forget these items when packing your dog’s suitcase:

Health certificate and medical records
Contact information for your regular veterinarian and an emergency contact at your destination
Comb, brush, and flea control products
Any special medication your dog might need
Spare collar with id tag
Pet wipes or grooming products
Paper towels and stain remover
Enough dog food and treats for the entire trip
Plenty of bottled water (a sudden change can upset your dog’s stomach)
Food and water dishes
Leash and poop bags
Your dog’s favorite toy and blanket
A list of dog friendly restaurants and attractions at your destination

Airlines That Allow Large Dogs In Cabin
Air Canada.
American Airlines.
Delta Airlines.
Southwest Airlines.
United Airlines.

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