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Advice on flying with a dog?


Innisfree
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We need to take a trip that will involve dd's much-loved dog coming too. I've never taken a dog along on a flight before; in fact, it's been almost twenty years since I've flown at all.

 

I'm mainly worried about the dog's safety and comfort. The flight will be in the 8-9 hour range, and possibly overnight. How safe is flying as luggage for dogs? We could actually get approval for the dog to be in the cabin as an emotional support animal, which he is, but if he'd be safe, I think being out of the cabin might be better.

 

Any experience or advice?

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The dog will probably be far more relaxed about this trip than you are.  A Health Certificate, issued by your Vet. the day before the trip (and a quick inspection by the Vet. that day) and if you are going internationally, compliance with the regulations of the destination country.

 

We have a VARI KENNEL which is sort of a plastic (?) crate of very high quality. Buy one large enough for the dog to stand up in and turn around in.

 

DO NOT CONSIDER FOR EVEN ONE SECOND, USING A WIRE CRATE FOR THIS TRIP. We have one of those also, but those are not designed for going in the cargo hold of a Civil Turbojet aircraft.

 

Arrange with the airline the reservation for your dog. There is limited space for animals, depending upon the type of aircraft.

 

Put "Live Animal" on both sides of the crate and your dogs name.

 

Attach to the top of the crate, a small bag of food, in case the dog ends up somewhere other than where you do. (That's incredibly rare, but occasionally happens).

 

I would suggest bringing a one gallon jug of water from home. Before checking the dog in your origin airport, exercise the dog and give the opportunity to eat a very small amount of food and to drink water.

 

DO NOT MEDICATE YOUR DOG WITH ANY KIND OF TRANQUILIZER. 

 

Your dog will probably sleep most of the time. Lulled to sleep by the sounds from the engines.

 

I would NOT suggest bringing the dog into the cabin, especially for a very long flight.

 

If your flight involves a connection, and there is enough (scheduled) time between flights, there is a way to check from the origin airport to the airport where you will connect, claim the dog, then recheck the dog for the 2nd flight.  I have done that but I cannot remember the name for that.  I did that when I brought my elderly (12 1/2 years old) Old English Sheepdog from Texas to Colombia with a connection in Miami.   We had enough time in Miami that I was able to take her for a quick walk and give her the opportunity to eat a little and drink a little, if she wanted to.  That will also require standing in line again to recheck the dog for the 2nd flight.

 

We had (past tense, it was destroyed here in the house a year or two ago) a little cart made by VARI KENNEL for our Vari Kennel.  That made it far more easier to wheel a medium size dog in her crate, around in the airports.  Well worth the $.

 

There is something I cannot remember, about putting the top and bottom of the Vari Kennel together with the bolts upside down. I'm  not sure about that.

 

I secured the door with 1 or 2 Bungee Cords, so that it could not open, accidentally.

 

I put those Adhesive Letters on each side, with the dog's name and the airport code for our destination airport (in our case that's CLO, in your case it will be something different).

 

When I made that trip with my Old English Sheepdog, she was in the Baggage Claim waiting for me, before I got there and then I went through Customs and we were on our way.

 

Our Vari Kennel has been loaned out several times and has been round trip to Central America on those trips.  A heavy man could stand on our Vari Kennel or on our Kennel Aire wire crate and not damage the crates. They are extremely strong.

Edited by Lanny
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ETA: Acclimate the dog to the crate long before the trip.  I put the crate in the living room. I left the door open. The dog learned to go into the crate and sleep there.  That's a lot better than going to the airport and trying to shove a dog who has never seen the crate before, into a strange crate.  Dogs are "Den" animals, so being in a crate is not something they will consider a horrible experience, if they are accustomed to the crate. 


 


If you are doing this trip during the Winter, it is much less risky than in the Summer.  Heat can kill.


 


There is NO WAY I would consider taking a dog into the passenger cabin for a flight of that duration. Some of the other passengers would probably complain and hate you. The Flight Attendants would probably hate you.   Your dog would probably hate you.  Possibly for a flight of one hour, if there was some Medical reason for the passenger to have the dog in the cabin with them, but not for a flight longer than that.  Pets in the cabin may not cause issues, but frequently they do.  A Seeing Eye dog for a Blind passenger? Of course... Someone's pet? No


Edited by Lanny
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Contact the airline right away and make sure the dog is booked on the flight. Most flights limit the number of pets and some aircraft won’t acceot pets at all for safety reasons. Read the very specific instructions about crate requirements. These change frequently so don’t take the word of someone who flew last year. For example this time I needed to replace all the plastic screws with metal ones per United’s new policy. Many airlines no longer accept pets as excess baggage so you need extra time to drop off and pick up in the cargo area. The health certificate has to be issued within a certain number of days of the flight. If you’re flying internationally, check the import regulations very carefully as they may be far more stringent. Good luck. Our pup is always totally fine and he’s flown some longer flights.

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Thanks, Lanny, this is all helpful. Yes, I agree not having the dog in the cabin is best, for all those reasons. Just want to make sure he's safe.

 

Unfortunately we'll have to travel in June and July.

 

Unfortunately you may run into temperature issues. Temperature restrictions may come into play. I think each airline's website should have info on what the cutoffs are.

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Thanks, Lanny, this is all helpful. Yes, I agree not having the dog in the cabin is best, for all those reasons. Just want to make sure he's safe.

 

Unfortunately we'll have to travel in June and July.

 

I just glanced at the other responses. This makes your trip preparation more important. OK, you are going from IAD to LHR (or another airport in the London Metro area).  

 

As others have mentioned, you MUST have all the paperwork 100% correct. All the T's crossed and all the I's dotted.   This is doable. I know a family that moved from Texas to the UK 6 or 7 years ago with their dog. A couple of months ago, they moved from the UK to the EU. The first part of their move was to take their dog to their new country, on a train...

 

I am from TX and in June or July it can be really hot there. I have been in IAD and it can be really hot there, also, on occasions.  I would plan for hot and humid the day of your departure.

 

NOTE: If there is a flight early in the morning (especially 9 A.M. or before) I would take that, to protect my dog.  If not, and this is probably what will happen, you will need to check in, in the late afternoon, for an early evening flight across the Pond.

 

PLEASE NOTE:   Please do not panic, if you are aboard the aircraft and spot your dog in the crate on the Tarmac.  If it is hot and humid, they will leave the dog there, until the last minute, when they are getting ready to lock up the aircraft for "Push Back" from the gate. Why?  Because if the aircraft has been sitting there for several hours (it probably just arrived from the UK and is going back home with your family) the area where they put your dog may be hot. They will want to minimize the number of minutes your dog is hot, before the air flow and air conditioning become effective, when everything is locked up for the flight.

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I thought we'd get the crate now and let him get used to it, as you suggest.

 

For sure. Possibly put a towel or mat or something on the bottom. I think I may have even purchased something special from Vari Kennel for that.

 

Be sure to put a small amount of his food in a bag and securely fasten that to the top of the crate.   

 

I would offer a very small amount of food and water after arriving at IAD and then exercise the dog at the airport (IAD) before going inside to check him in.

 

If you get the crate now, by next June, he will think of that Crate as "his" and he will love it. 

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Thanks, I'll look into this. This issue concerns me.

 

It should concern you. The combination of Temperature and Humidity (THI) are what you need to try to avoid. The cooler it is, when you check in at IAD and your dog is waiting for Departure, the better he will be.  To me, the critical part is when they first load the dogs into the aircraft if the THI is high. Hopefully, they will do that just before they lock the aircraft up and it is going to "Push Back" from the Gate.  Once the aircraft is locked up, it will start to cool down and your dog will be super comfy in a very few minutes after that, with regulated temperature and fresh air flow.

 

That's why the number of pets is limited.  The regulated temperature and fresh air flow is only available in certain areas, so they put the pets into those areas.

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We went through this a couple years ago with my dd and her beloved dog.  She was flying with him from Central America to Texas.  We were all so worried, because of course you hear the horror stories.  But, they were well-prepared and everything was fine.

 

I believe my dd flew American Airlines.  She booked the dog part via phone, but didn't have any clear answers about the particular airport regulations (in the city she was flying out of).  She went there in person ahead of time to find out how it worked, make sure everything was in order, etc.  I think airline crate requirements are pretty much standard now, so you should be able to look that up online.

 

She needed a vaccination and health certificate maybe 10 days before boarding.  She chose to not medicate him for the flight.

 

She bought him a thunder vest a couple months ahead of time, which they thought he might need because he's an anxious dog.  (You also have the option of putting the dog's name on it, which they did.)  They got the crate a couple months ahead of time too.  That way, he got used to the crate (which they always put treats in to make it seem fun) and the feel of the thunder vest ahead of time.

 

They chose the flight time carefully.  I believe it was a very early morning flight, so they knew the temperature wouldn't get too hot if he had to wait long.  You might want to consider destination airport times too.

 

I can't remember what the flying regulations are regarding food and water and what they did.  They did put an article of my dd's clothing in his crate because it had her scent on it and they figured it would comfort him.  (They knew he wouldn't chew it nervously.)

 

Someone on this board recommended that she put signs on the crate saying "My name is XXX.  Please talk to me using my name, and it will calm me down."  She wrote this in both English and Spanish.

 

As they took him away at her departure airport, he started yelping which he never does, which of course was heartbreaking for her!  He had never done that before.  I'm sure she never relaxed that whole flight!

 

But, it was all perfectly fine.  When she got to the baggage claim in Texas, his crate was actually right there.  (Earlier, we had been told that pets were sometimes taken to a separate pet waiting area.)  A small crowd of people were gathered around his crate, talking to him, calling him by his name.  It was so sweet!  

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How long will you be in the UK? Are you sure it's worth bringing the dog?

We'll be there about three weeks.

 

I would love to not bring the dog. Bringing him is possible, but a headache. But I'm doubtful that I could get dd on the plane without him.

 

Moving beyond Katie's comment here, mostly because of the other dog thread...

 

This is the other side of the coin with emotional support dogs. When they're needed, they really are needed. Dd's dev ped recommended a service dog for her, but she doesn't actually need a dog that walks everywhere with her. She just needs to be able to come home (wherever home is at the moment) and cuddle him. She spends hours a day with that dog, and she went into a tailspin when I suggested last week that maybe the dog could stay home while we travel.

 

It's really hard trying to figure out precisely how disabled your child needs to be in order to qualify for something like an emotional support dog. She manages pretty well in a lot of ways these days, but that's with the dog here. We have actively, with the help of ABA, trained her to use coping strategies that rely on the dog. (We've worked on other strategies, too, but it's the ones with the dog that have "taken".) He is very well trained, and dd is obsessive (and I use that word advisedly) about leash laws and public behavior generally. He doesn't go to stores other than PetSMart. But US laws for emotional support dogs put them in a gray area between pets and service dogs, and I am very uncomfortable taking him on this trip because of the bad reputation they've developed.

 

/But all that is really an aside. :-). Sorry. This situation is stressing me out. I think *I* need a dog. ;-)

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My biggest question is, how do service dogs and ESA animals handle bathroom needs on such a long flight???

 

Also, how big is the dog?

 

I have no experience here yet, but have read that it's best to not feed closer than four hours to the flight, and minimize water.

 

This particular dog usually sleeps 12 hours easily, but I've worried about this too.

 

The dog is 31 lbs.

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If you’re staying three weeks, you may well need to arrange a second health certificate in the UK for returning to the US. You’ll also need the rabies vaccination certificate (original) when returning to the US. That’s the thing they won’t compromise on, so travel with that. The APHIS site linked above will also have details regarding returning from the UK to the US.

 

Bringing him in cabin as a support animal reduces the headache of the crate requirements and check-in procedures, and may cost less, but all the import/export requirements remain the same.

 

Good luck.

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My dog is fine in its kennel for 12 hours (essentially overnight) so a 9 hour flight wouldn't be an issue.

My dog is fine in a kennel for 12 hours, but not fine up and moving around for 12 hours.

 

I am the same way. I can sleep 10 hours without peeing or drinking, but I can't go for a 10 hour work day without peeing or drinking.

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My dog is fine in a kennel for 12 hours, but not fine up and moving around for 12 hours.

 

I am the same way. I can sleep 10 hours without peeing or drinking, but I can't go for a 10 hour work day without peeing or drinking.

 

Exactly what I was thinking. Plus stress tends to make animals have to poop. 

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ktgrok:   Our service dog:   We haven't flown 8 hours but we have flown around  5.  We withhold dinner and breakfast the morning of the flight.  She potties on command but as I tell people, she isn't a robot so it isn't full proof (yes, she has had an accident once, she is still a dog).   We have her potty at home, at the airport and fortunately most airports now have dog stations on most terminals so that is the first stop off the plane, even before heading to baggage claim.  Although she is 60 pounds she is trained to curl up very small at our feet on the plane and never moves the whole flight.    

 

OP:  There is an app that lists all the pet stations at airports and terminals so I would try to map out your plan before departure and upon arrival so you have a plan in place to make it as easy as possible for your dog.  

 

Kindness also goes a long way with a dog.  We may have rights with our SD but anytime we fly or even just in public I always check with those around us to make sure they are ok with her.  Example, last week we were at the Apple Store for an appointment and were told to sit at a table.  There was already one lady there so before we went to sit down the first thing I did was ask her if she was ok with a dog at the table.  I would never think that our SD overrides her already sitting there.  After that, when others came to sit down, I let them know first that she was already under the table (because of course they had no idea) so they could then decide for themselves before they sat down.   We do the same thing at restaurants, when we go to sit down, I always ask the tables next to us if they are ok with a dog next to them (even though anyone that does after has no idea she is under the table).  So far no one has ever said no but I'm not going knowingly sit and terrify a child or make someone's dinner uncomfortable.   Just my POV.  

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