From boarding to arrival, how to travel with a dog by plane?

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Traveling by plane with your dog can be a stressful ordeal… For your dog, as for you!

If your dog weighs more than 6 kg on average, he will indeed have to travel in the hold while you remain in the cabin, mulling your mind to try to guess how his journey is going.

To prevent you from tormenting yourself more than reason, we are explaining today in detail how a plane trip is for your four-legged friend and how to best prepare him for it!

Traveling by plane with your dog: a reminder of the regulations 

The regulations governing the transport of dogs by plane can vary according to the airlines, so I recommend contacting yours to find out about them before you even book your tickets.

Some companies do not accept transport breeds of dogs with short muzzles, and others simply refuse all animal species.

Before any reservation, check that your dog meets all the criteria of age, weight, and morphology required by the company you are considering.

The homonymous association set up the IATA (International Air Transport Association) to guarantee the well-being of animals traveling by air.

Not all airlines are IATA-approved, but most of those operating international flights are.

For your dog to be authorized to travel by plane, its transport crate must therefore meet various requirements set out by the IATA and intended to ensure its safety:

  • The dog must be able to stand up, turn around and lie down without discomfort in its crate
  • The crate must be rigid (in fiberglass or plastic) and its two parts must be held together by bolts
  • The closure of the crate must be centralized and the hinges must protrude at least 1.6 cm upwards and downwards
  • If necessary, the wheels must be blocked
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Also note that some airlines rent their IATA boxes, which can save you an unnecessary investment, especially if your dog does not take the plane every four mornings!

Preparing your dog for his plane trip also includes a visit to the veterinarian.

The latter will be able to advise you on possible painkillers to help your dog overcome his stress and will ensure that your animal’s vaccines are up to date.

To find out which vaccines to administer to your doggie before leaving, go to the website of the embassy of your destination country.

Some countries also institute a quarantine for dogs arriving by air, and others require a certificate of good health, pest control and/or an import permit.

From one airport to another, your dog’s trip in detail

Before the airport, prepare your dog’s crate well

To ensure that your doggie’s plane trip goes smoothly, it is important to get him used to it. positively to its transport crate as soon as possible.

Try to get an IATA crate at least 10 days before your departure to familiarize your dog with this new environment.

Place cushions and blankets there to make it a comfortable place, where your companion will feel safe.

If he is reluctant to enter, you can encourage him by placing treats or his favorite toys.

You will then have to prepare the crate for D-Day to ensure that your dog does not miss anything during transport.

I advise you to place an absorbent material on the ground, and to hang an empty container on the bars of the door.

Airport staff will be able to give your dog a drink in the event of a long wait before and after the flight, or during stopovers.

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You can also attach a food pouch to the outside of the crate for your dog to be fed at the same time.

I also recommend that you place one of your dog’s favorite accessories in his crate to reassure him.

Finally, do not lock the box : flight attendants and airport agents must be able to access your dog in the event of an emergency.

check in dog

Departure airport: registering your dog

Once your dog is ready to take off, arrive at check-in 30 minutes before the regular time, ie at least 90 minutes before your departure time.

Dogs traveling in the hold must be registered at the counter dedicated to “non-standard” baggage, before or after your check-in.

During this stage, your dog is weighed and labels are affixed to its crate to facilitate its identification.

If the company requires it, your pet’s health certificate is checked at this stage, as is their European passport (for trips to the EU).

Once this is done, your dog is taken care of by airport staff. You will find it on arrival!

The flight: how is your dog’s journey going?

Once your companion has been removed from you by the airport staff, he is placed in storage with the baggage until the moment of loading.

If the wait is long, the agents can possibly feed and water it, although they have no obligation as to the food care of your animal during its transit.

For its comfort, it is therefore crucial to have correctly prepared its cash register beforehand to facilitate the task for the agents.

I also advise you to write the name of your pooch on his crate so that the staff can call him to comfort him.

Your dog is then placed in a separate compartment in the hold, which is heated and pressurized during the flight.

Please note: most airlines only air-condition the holds when transporting animals, hence the importance of registering your dog well in advance!

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Despite the heating, the temperature often remains very low in the hold, so I suggest that you put a good blanket in the box of Médor.

Arrival airport: picking up your dog

As for departure, your dog’s arrival will generally be at the “non-standard” baggage counter, although the smaller airports sometimes deposit pets next to conventional baggage.

You will then have to go through customs with your dog, during which his passport and vaccinations will be checked.

In some countries (such as Canada), this procedure is chargeable, and you will have to pay the inherent costs on site.

If you are in good standing with the health and administrative standards of your destination country, this step goes smoothly and quickly.

But in case of irregularities, your animal risks being placed in quarantine or, worst case, euthanized.

It is, therefore, crucial to inform yourself well about the formalities of your country of stay so as not to put your animal in danger.

As for the islands, they generally impose more drastic controls when animals arrive on their territories. New Zealand, Australia, and New Caledonia require, among others, a 10-day quarantine and an import permit for each pooch arriving at their borders.To minimize stress for you and your dog, it is crucial to prepare your pooch for the plane in advance, especially if you do not yet know the regulations imposed by your country of destination. In

addition to the administrative and health formalities relating to the importation of animals into a territory, you will also have to ensure that your companion travels in good conditions – at least those imposed by IATA standards.

Do you have questions or an experience to share with us? Tell us about your doggie’s trip in the comments of this article!

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