Dog Travel Checklist: What to Do Before Flying with Your Dog

Traveling with your beloved canine companion can be an exciting and memorable experience. Whether you're embarking on a vacation or relocating to a new city, bringing your dog along adds a special touch to your journey. However, flying with a dog requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience for both you and your furry friend.

In this dog travel checklist, we show you the essential items and documents you need to have when flying with a dog, along with useful tips and insights to make your trip a success. 

Researching Pet Travel Requirements

Before you embark on your adventure, it's crucial to research the pet travel requirements of your destination country or state.


Each location may have specific regulations and guidelines that you need to adhere to when traveling with a dog. Start by checking the import requirements, which may include obtaining an import permit, microchipping your dog, and ensuring vaccinations are up to date.

Some countries may also require additional tests, such as a Blood Titer Test or internal and external parasite treatments. Familiarize yourself with the quarantine regulations and whether your dog needs to arrive as manifest cargo.


Remember, rules can vary from one country to another, so thorough research is essential. Websites like the CDC and USDA provide valuable information on pet import requirements for over 240 countries.

Puppy with Plane Ticket

Acquiring the Right Pet Carrier

A secure and comfortable pet carrier is a must-have when flying with a dog. Depending on the size of your dog, you may need either a crate or a carrier. 

Make sure the carrier has a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation, and meets the International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements. Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably inside the carrier. 

To ensure a smooth transition, introduce your dog to the carrier well in advance of the trip. Place familiar items like blankets and toys inside the carrier, and encourage your dog to spend time in it. Gradually increase the duration of time spent in the carrier and praise your dog for their positive association with it. Acclimating your dog to the carrier will help reduce anxiety during travel. 

Visiting the Veterinarian

A visit to the veterinarian is essential before flying with a dog. Schedule an appointment to ensure your dog is in good health and up to date on vaccinations. Discuss any specific requirements for the destination, such as a rabies vaccination certificate or additional testing.


If necessary, have your dog microchipped with a 15-digit ISO microchip before vaccination. Obtain copies of written prescriptions for any medications your dog may need during the trip. It's also a good idea to have a list of veterinary offices and emergency animal hospitals in the area you'll be traveling to, just in case. 

Checking Airline and Route Details

When flying with a dog, it's crucial to check the specific pet policies of the airline you'll be traveling with. Each airline has its own rules and regulations regarding pets in the cabin or cargo hold. 


Confirm whether your dog's breed is allowed in the cabin or if they need to travel in the cargo hold. Some airlines have restrictions on certain breeds, particularly brachycephalic breeds with shorter noses.


It's also important to check the availability of pet reservations as airlines limit the number of pets allowed per flight. Avoid booking flights with long layovers, if possible, and choose non-stop flights to minimize stress for your dog. Research the airline's restrictions on seating options for passengers traveling with pets, such as avoiding bulkhead rows or first-class cabins. 

Pet-Friendly Accommodations and Services

Before your trip, ensure that you have booked pet-friendly accommodations. Contact hotels in advance to verify their pet policies and make reservations.


Many hotels have specific guidelines regarding pet size and restrictions on leaving pets unattended in rooms. Research nearby animal hospitals in case of emergencies and have their contact information readily available. Identify pet-friendly parks and restaurants in the area, so you and your furry friend can enjoy your stay together. 

Dog Tags

The Dog Travel Checklist: Essential Supplies

When flying with a dog, packing the right supplies is crucial to ensure their comfort and well-being throughout the journey. Here's a checklist of essential items to pack: 


  1. Collar with current ID tags: Make sure your dog wears a secure collar with up-to-date identification tags, including your contact information.

  2. Leash: Bring a sturdy leash for walks and to ensure your dog's safety during travel.

  3. Crate, safety harness, or restraining device: Depending on your dog's size and the airline's requirements, pack a crate, safety harness, or any other restraining device necessary for their transportation.

  4. Litter box or poop bags: If you're traveling with a cat or small dog, bring a portable litter box or poop bags for easy cleanup.

  5. Food, water, and snacks: Pack enough food and treats for the duration of your trip, ensuring you have extra in case of any unexpected delays.

  6. Food and water dishes: Carry collapsible or portable food and water dishes for your dog's meals and hydration.

  7. Medications and copies of prescriptions: If your dog requires medication, bring an ample supply along with written prescriptions from your veterinarian.

  8. Vaccination records: Keep copies of your dog's vaccination records, including the rabies certificate, as some airlines and destinations may require them.

  9. List of veterinary offices and emergency animal hospitals: Have a list of nearby veterinary offices and emergency animal hospitals at your destination in case of any health emergencies.

  10. First-aid kit: Pack a pet-specific first-aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic solution, and any necessary medications.

  11. Familiar blankets and toys

Grooming Your Pet

Before your trip, consider scheduling a visit to the groomer for your dog. A clean and well-groomed pet will be more comfortable during travel. Take care of any necessary grooming, such as trimming nails or bathing, a few days before your departure. This will ensure that your dog is fresh and ready for the journey ahead. 

Dog baths

Airlines typically require a health certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian. The health certificate should state that your dog is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations. It is important to note that health certificates are usually only valid for a specific period, often 30 days. If your trip exceeds the validity of the certificate, you may need to schedule a veterinarian visit at your destination to meet return flight requirements.

The cost of flying with a dog can vary depending on the airline and the type of travel. In-cabin pet fees typically range from $95 to $125 each way, while cargo fees can be more expensive. It's important to check the specific fees and policies of your chosen airline before booking your flight.

Making the Journey Comfortable

Flying can be stressful for dogs, so it's important to take steps to make the journey as comfortable as possible. Here are some tips to consider:


  1. Avoid feeding your dog before the flight: To minimize the risk of nausea and discomfort, avoid feeding your dog a few hours before the flight. However, ensure they stay hydrated with small sips of water.

  2. Provide a comfortable carrier: Ensure your dog's carrier is well-padded, secure, and provides adequate ventilation. Place familiar items like blankets or toys inside to create a cozy environment.

  3. Stick to a routine: Take your dog for a walk or play session before heading to the airport to help them release energy and reduce anxiety.

  4. Arrive early: Arrive at the airport well in advance of your flight to allow time for check-in and security procedures.

  5. Follow security protocols: During the security screening process, you'll need to remove your dog from their carrier and carry them through the screening device. Use a secure harness and leash to prevent escape.

  6. Stay calm and comforting: Dogs can sense your emotions, so try to remain calm and provide reassurance to your pet throughout the journey.

  7. Avoid sedation: Unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian, avoid sedating your dog before the flight, as it can have adverse effects and some airlines prohibit sedation.

  8. Keep your dog's health in mind: Monitor your dog during the flight and offer small sips of water if needed. If flying with a brachycephalic breed, pay extra attention to their breathing and overall well-being.

Deciding Whether to Fly with Your Dog

It's important to carefully consider whether flying with your dog is the best option for both of you. While it can be tempting to bring your furry friend along, it's crucial to assess their comfort, health, and overall well-being. Some dogs may experience significant stress and discomfort when flying, particularly those with health or behavioral challenges. 


Take into account your dog's age, temperament, and ability to adapt to new environments. If your destination doesn't provide suitable accommodations or activities for your dog, it may be more beneficial to leave them in the care of a trusted pet sitter or boarding facility. 


Additionally, road-tripping may be a viable alternative if your dog is comfortable traveling by car and the distance is manageable. 

Dog Adventure

Enjoy the Adventure!

Flying with a dog requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a safe and stress-free journey. Researching and complying with the pet travel requirements of your destination country, acquiring the right pet carrier, visiting the veterinarian, and packing essential supplies are crucial steps in preparing for your trip. 

Familiarize yourself with the specific pet policies of the airline you'll be traveling with and ensure you have accommodations and services that cater to pets at your destination. 

By following these guidelines and prioritizing your dog's comfort and well-being, you can create a positive and memorable travel experience for both of you. 


Remember, each dog is unique, and it's important to assess their individual needs and limitations when making the decision to fly together. 

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About WoofAddict

We set out to find the most innovative, creative solutions for you to connect with your pup and only sell the highest quality products for our favorite furry family member. We hope our solutions enrich the relationship you have with your dog as much as they have for us.

Article Takeaways

Thorough Research Matters: Understand destination rules for smooth travel.

Prepare Dog & Essentials: Comfortable carrier, supplies, health check.

Consider Dog's Well-being: Assess if flying suits your dog's comfort.