Tips On Air Travel With Your Dog

Apr 12, 2023

Do your travel plans include taking your dog along? If you answered ‘yes,’ you’re certainly not alone. The number of people deciding to take their pooch along for the trip is increasing: nowadays, 40% of dog owners want to include their furry friend(s) when they travel. This is according to a recent American Pet Products Association’s ‘National Pet Owner’ survey.

Before You Fly

If you’ve never taken ‘man’s best friend’ on a flight, there’s quite a lot of advance planning to be done. A less stressful flight/trip for you and your dog involves a number of important steps. To help you get ready, we’ve compiled a list of what you need to do as well as things you don’t want to do in order to help keep all involved safe and healthy. Packing for yourself and your dog is only part of the equation when planning a flight together, especially if you’re travelling internationally.

1.Take Your Pet to the Vet

Take this step early in your trip planning stage. Why? Because most pets travelling from Canada to another country will need an export certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian and endorsed by an official Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) veterinarian.

It’s mandatory to obtain CFIA endorsement of an export certificate before the animal(s) leave Canada as the CFIA cannot endorse or issue a certificate if the animal(s) is/are no longer in Canada.

The requirements for pets travelling to another country can be very specific and different for each country (including the United States). As a pet owner, plan ahead to ensure you have enough time to meet any testing, vaccination, or treatment requirements in order to obtain the necessary certifications. Some countries may also require owners to obtain an import permit in addition to an export certificate.

Animal health certificates have expiration dates, so timing getting one is critical. During your visit, also ask your vet for options to help your pet cope with the stress of travel.

2. Investigate Your Airline’s Rules

All airlines have specific rules and regulations concerning pets travelling on board their aircraft. Find out what they are before you fly.

  • Many airlines limit the number of pets travelling in the cabin and may disallow pets to travel during extreme weather if they are flying in cargo.
  • Expect to present your dog’s health certificate to airline staff on check-in and have a signed letter of acclimation from a veterinarian.

3. Choose A Carrying Case Or Kennel

Your dog’s carrier must meet an airline’s size requirements in order for your dog to accompany you in-cabin. For large breed dogs travelling in cargo, kennel dimensions are larger. Check ahead of time.

  • All carriers must be well ventilated and large enough for the dog to comfortably sit, stand, and turn around in it.
  • The carrier should be secure so the animal cannot escape or be injured.
  • Your veterinarian can suggest what type/size carrier is best for your pet.
  • Dogs are not allowed out of their carriers at any time, (except during security screening) whether travelling in cargo or in-cabin.

4. Packing

If your dog takes medication, ensure you bring enough to last through your trip. Include it in your carry-on with veterinarian documents.

Pack the essentials: food, water, pee pads, dog bed, calming collar/shirt, toys, chews, identification tags, collar and leash.

5. Meals & Toilet Breaks

Once onboard, your dog can’t be let out of its carrier for any reason and should not be fed while on board either. Ensure meals and toilet breaks have been looked after prior to boarding.

Tip: Tire your dog out with some pre-flight exercise. It may help him/her fall asleep during the flight. Most vets suggest not feeding your dog for several hours before flying to reduce the possibility of nausea/vomiting.

6. Include Comfort Items

Flying can be uncomfortable and stressful, even for dogs who’re seasoned travellers. Consider using a calming collar or shirt during the flight. Bring a favourite blanket and toys too.

Up, Up & Away

Here’s a list of dos and don’ts when bringing your pet on the plane:


  • At security screening: If your pet is travelling in the plane’s cabin with you, remove your pet from its carrying case and keep it on a leash. Place the case on the conveyor belt and send it through the screening equipment.
  • Meanwhile, hold your leashed pet in your arms and proceed together through the metal detector.
  • Put your dog back into its carry case after passing through security.
  • If your large breed dog will be travelling in the cargo hold of the aircraft, take it out (leashed) of its kennel so that a security officer can screen the kennel separately.
  • You’re responsible for your pet’s behaviour throughout the screening process so be sure you have control of your animal.


  • Never hand your pet to a screening officer to hold while you go through security.
  • Never place your pet on the conveyor belt.

After You Land

You may need to show your dog’s health certificate and proof of vaccination again when you land. Wait until you get permission from airport officials to let your dog out of its carrying case, especially when travelling internationally. This may not be until after you’ve cleared customs or left the airport.

But, What If My Dog’s A Cat?

No problem. These same tips and pointers are equally valid for those of you travelling by air with your pet cat(s) too!

For more information, click here.



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