Recently we adopted this adorable fluff ball (see the obnoxious amount of sweet photos below). We flew from San Diego (SAN) airport to Spokane (GEG) airport and then home all in one day. We had flight delays and a few other hiccups, but once we got our pup, it was all worth it.
Here are some of my best tips to flying and traveling with a puppy. Please note, each airline has different regulations and requirements, so before you book your flight, check with the airline to make sure they allow a puppy in the cabin with you.
+ Call the airline first
Before you book your flight, call the airline to ensure that they allow puppies in the cabin. I believe most airlines allow in-cabin puppies, but some might not. International rules are different from national rules, and certain countries have more restricted guidelines. Also, some airlines have a maximum allowance for in-cabin pets, so be sure to confirm with them that your animal is approved to travel with you at least 48 hours in advance, although I would do it before or when I purchase my ticket.
+ Buy an airline approved pet carrier for your pup
Three sides of the pup carrier must have a breathable mesh. I also suggest that the top part zip open to easily pet your pup during the flight. If you choose to buy a bag that only zips open on the sides, your pup could easily escape. This is the airline approve pet carrier that we bought and I love it. I have also used it to take my puppy to the vet; I highly recommend it. Our puppy was 7lbs (13 weeks old) when we traveled with him (just to give you a bit of perspective of size). Our pup, Mr. Darcy, is an F1b mini Newfypoo (miniature Newfoundland/poodle mix) so he looks heavier, but it’s all fluff.
This pet travel carrier comes in a pretty grey color, has two straps and an additional padded shoulder strap for easy carrying. One of my favorite features of this bag is that it has a slit to slide over your rolling suitcase for easy transportation of your puppy. An added bonus was the collapsible water bowl that was included, and all for less than $20!
+ Bring a rolling carry-on bag
You will need this to store your food/ID/ and all the puppy supplies. Your puppy counts as one bag, so double check with your airline to be sure you can bring an overhead storage carry-on bag, if not, you will be allowed one personal item (depending on the airline).
+ Pack pet potty pads
Once we had our puppy, at the first layover I took him into a large stall in the women’s bathroom and put a pet potty pad down for him so he could relieve himself. to my astonishment, he did! Depending on how long your travel day is, I can’t see you needing any more pet pads that this one provides. I used these instead of opting for designated pet potty stations in the airport because Parvo is pretty serious and you don’t want to take any chances. Your pup isn’t really supposed to be around other dogs until after they complete all of their Parvo shots. This includes having them walk on surfaces where other dogs have been (they can contract Parvo by simply smelling it on the ground). So if you have a new puppy, I recommend pet potty pads instead of the designated pet potty spots.
+ Don’t skimp on the rags
I brought two rags just in case we had a spill. They weren’t anything fussy or complicated, but they did the trick.
+ Love those sanitizing wipes
This is another item for “just in case” situations. I’d also bring hand sanitizer too. We flew Delta, and they were amazing! On every flight as you boarded the plane, you were handed a sanitizing wipe. You also got another with the snack bags that they passed out.
+ Pack a change of clothes
I was told that air travel can make puppies nervous, and when they get nervous, they can get diarrhea, so, just in case something does happen, bring a change of clothes for your sake, and for the other passengers nearby.
+ Bring a blanket
I brought a larger blanket so our puppy could spread out a bit during the layover. With the puppies immune system still vulnerable, I don’t recommend letting them outside of their pet carrier unless it’s on a blanket or the pet pad. We let Mr. Darcy out of his pet carrier during our 2 hour layover and he lay on his blanket and chewed a bone. I got this one from Walmart years ago for $3.
+ A slip leash is a must
It’s always good to have one, but especially for when you let your pup out to potty or stretch on the blanket.
> Consider a chew toy/bone (but make sure it’s not loud or squeaky)
Having something for the pup to chew on can help alleviate stress due to flying. I brought a bacon scented chew toy and a mini stuffed pig that I removed the squeaker from. My pup didn’t touch either of them, but it’s a good idea to have them anyways, and they don’t take up much room.
+ What about a water bottle
It’s important for both you and your pup to stay hydrated. By drinking water, it helps keep your pup cool on the flight, so bring some extra water for him.
+ Pet health information & other needed papers
Check with your airline to know what documentation they require. If you are taking a service animal or therapy pup, you will usually be required to bring a completed/signed form for them. This form usually needs signatures from your doctor, the vet, and possibly others so don’t put this off until the end, it could result in your pup having to fly in the cargo area. This is the form that Delta Airlines requires for service & therapy pets.
+ Don’t forget the dog food
Depending on how long your travel day is, you might consider bringing dog food. We didn’t bring food for our pup because I thought it would be included in his travel kit when we picked him up, but alas, it wasn’t. We didn’t get home that night until after midnight, so you can imagine how hungry Mr. Darcy was. It was probably for the best; it helped minimize any accidents, but it took us a couple days to get him on a regular eating schedule after all of that.
Other tips for traveling with a puppy – check into your national flight at least 2 hours in advance (more for international flights). Taking a pup on the flight usually comes with a hefty fee (~$125+ depending on the airline), so be prepared for that. And lastly, I recommend getting a window seat so your pup isn’t in the way of other people in your row. If you can swing it, I recommend having someone else fly with you to make it easier to manage the pup, but if not, I’m sure you will do great!
Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear your travel tips for flying with a pet.