When you have to fly your dog by plane in order to travel to a new destination, the last thing most of us want is to stuff him in a box while he sits in the cargo area during the entire flight. Unfortunately, if you have no other choice but to use the airlines for your travel needs, your dog will have be placed in a crate for the flight.
Your job here is to make sure your dog or puppy is as comfortable as he possibly can be. Below are a few tips to help you prepare him for the flight:
1. You are going to have to invest in a USDA approved kennel that is designed for travel and should be custom fit to the size of your dog. Be sure that the kennel unit is stable and provides enough room for your dog or puppy to stand up in, as well as offers the ability for him to turn around if he needs to.
2. Never wait until the day of your flight to put your dog inside the kennel. Dogs do adapt easily, however, it is best to get him comfortable with the crate so that he will be a little more at ease. You can do this by having him sleep inside the kennel each night before your travel date. Three nights of this arrangement before the day of the flight is plenty of time.
3. If you know your flight will be longer than 10 to 12 hours, be sure to tape a small bag of dog food outside the crate, complete with feeding instructions.
4. For your own peace of mind and to avoid the small chance that your dog could miss his destination, write the destination of your flight on the top portion of the crate in big letters. Be sure to include your full name and address, as well as a phone number where you can be contacted.
5. It is best not to feed your dog within six hours of the flight. This will help reduce the chances of him having an accident and using the bathroom inside of the kennel.
6. In case your dog or puppy does happen to have a mess while flying, prep the kennel with a light layer of paper and bedding so that the urine and stools can be absorbed as best possible.
7. To avoid your dog from becoming dehydrated during the flight, place two bowls inside the kennel, one filled with a small amount of water, and the other filled with ice. The ice bowl will melt away bit by bit and provide plenty of fluids hours later.
8. Last but not least, if you have a very small dog like a chihuahua or a toy poodle, see if you can arrange to have a small crate to put your dog in that can fit underneath your seat. Do not wait until the last minute to talk with the airlines about this arrangement. Find out if boarding the flight with your small dog under your seat is possible as early as you can.