The Ultimate Guide to Flying with Large Dogs

Flying with Large Dogs

The Ultimate Guide to Flying with Large Dogs

Flying with pets can be a difficult task, especially for large dogs, the process can be even more challenging. Whether you are moving to a new location, or want to take your furry friend on a fun adventure, flying with a large dog requires careful planning and preparation. This article will cover everything you need to know about flying with large dogs, from choosing the right airline to selecting the appropriate carrier and making the necessary arrangements. By following this guide, you can ensure you and your dog have a safe and stress-free journey for you and your beloved canine companion.

The Ultimate Guide to Flying with Large Dogs

1. Check airline requirements: 

Before booking a flight, it is important to check with the airline about their policies and requirements for flying with large dogs. Each airline may have different rules, so it is best to ensure you comply with them to avoid any issues.

2. Choose the right size crate: 

Airlines generally require that large dogs travel in a crate that is big enough for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Make sure the crate is sturdy and well-ventilated.

3. Get the required documentation: 

Depending on your destination, you may need to provide certain documentation such as a health certificate, proof of vaccinations, or a travel permit for your dog. It is important to get all the necessary paperwork ready before flying.

4. Prepare your dog for the flight:

If your dog is not used to being in a crate, it is important to familiarize them with it before the flight. You can start by keeping the crate open in your house and gradually increase the time your dog spends in it, making sure it is a positive experience for them.

5. Avoid feeding your dog before the flight:

It is recommended to avoid feeding your dog a meal a few hours before the flight to avoid any discomfort or accidents during the flight.

6. Exercise before the flight:

Make sure to take your dog for a long walk or play session before heading to the airport. This will help them to tire out and be more relaxed during the flight.

7. Label the crate:

Make sure to label the crate with your dog’s name, your contact information, and any special instructions. This will help airline staff to handle your dog properly and to contact you in case of any issues.

8. Arrive early at the airport:

It is important to arrive at the airport early to allow time for check-in and any necessary paperwork. This will also give your dog some time to settle down before the flight.

9. Communicate with the flight attendants:

Once on board, let the flight attendants know that you are traveling with a large dog. They may be able to provide you with a bulkhead seat with more legroom or assist you with any other needs.

10. Keep your dog calm during the flight:

During the flight, it is important to keep your dog calm and relaxed. You can do this by giving them a chew toy or a favorite blanket to help them feel more at ease.

11. Be prepared for bathroom breaks:

If the flight is long, your dog may need to go to the bathroom. Make sure to have puppy pads or a travel litter box ready in case this happens.

12. Pick up your dog promptly:

Once the flight has landed, make sure to pick up your dog as soon as possible. This will help them to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom after the flight.

13. Monitor your dog after the flight:

It is important to keep an eye on your dog for any signs of stress or discomfort after the flight. If you notice anything concerning, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Can Large Dogs Fly with You?

Yes, large dogs can fly with you on an airplane, but certain restrictions and requirements must be met. 

What is The Price of Flying with Large Dogs?

The price of flying with large dogs can vary depending on the airline, the size and weight of the dog, and the destination. Generally, domestic flights within the United States can range from $100 to $500 for a one-way ticket, while international flights can cost upwards of $500 or more. Some airlines also have additional fees for larger dogs or for transporting them as cargo instead of in the cabin.

Can I Buy a Seat for My Large Dog on An Airplane?

Yes, you can buy a seat for your large dog on an airplane, but it is not recommended or common practice. Most airlines have specific policies and guidelines for traveling with pets, and larger dogs are usually required to travel in the cargo hold. This is for the safety and comfort of all passengers, as well as the pet. Large dogs can often be more comfortable and have more space in the cargo hold.

Flying with a Large Dog Internationallydoo 1 1

Traveling internationally with a large dog can be a bit more complicated than flying domestically. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for international travel with your furry friend:

  • Check the entry requirements for your destination country: Each country has its own rules and regulations for bringing pets into the country. Some countries may require specific vaccinations, blood tests, and/or microchipping. Make sure to thoroughly research the requirements for your destination country well in advance of your trip.
  • Contact the airline: Not all airlines allow large dogs to travel internationally, so it’s important to check with your chosen airline before booking your ticket. You will also need to make reservations for your dog in advance and may be required to provide a health certificate from a veterinarian.
  • Consider using a pet relocation service: If you are feeling overwhelmed with the process of traveling internationally with a large dog, you may want to consider using a pet relocation service. These companies specialize in helping pets safely travel to different countries and can take care of all the necessary paperwork and arrangements.
  • Arrange for proper travel crates: Airlines have specific requirements for pet travel crates, including size, material, and ventilation. Make sure to carefully follow these requirements to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort during the flight.
  • Prepare for quarantine: Some countries may require a quarantine period for pets upon arrival. Make sure to inquire about this beforehand and plan accordingly.
  • Consider your dog’s age and health: Some older or sick dogs may not be fit for international travel. It’s important to speak with your veterinarian to determine if your dog is healthy enough to handle the stress of a long trip and any necessary quarantine periods.
  • Bring your dog’s medications and familiar items: Make sure to pack any necessary medications your dog may need during the trip. Bringing familiar items, such as favorite toys or blankets, can help your dog feel more comfortable and reduce anxiety during the journey.
  • Make arrangements for your dog’s care during layovers: If you have a layover during your flight, make sure to plan for your dog’s care during this time. Some airports have pet relief areas where your dog can stretch its legs and go to the bathroom, but you may need to arrange for someone to meet you at the airport to care for your dog during the layover.
  • Be prepared for unforeseen delays or cancellations: International flights can be unpredictable, and delays or cancellations can happen. Make sure you have a backup plan in case your flight is delayed or canceled and your dog needs to stay at the airport overnight.

SEE ALSO: Why Does My Cat Sleep Pressed Up Against Me? 

How to Fly with a Large Dog in a Cabin

Flying with a large dog can be a stressful experience, but it may be necessary if you are moving to a new location or going on a vacation. Many airlines do allow pets to fly in the cabin, but some limitations and restrictions must be followed, especially for larger dogs. If you need to fly with your large dog in the cabin, here are the steps you should take to ensure a smooth and safe journey for both you and your furry companion.

  • Check with the airline’s pet policy. Before booking your flight, make sure to check the airline’s pet policy. Some airlines do not allow pets in the cabin or have weight restrictions, so knowing if your dog will be allowed to fly with you is important. You should also check if there are any breed restrictions or additional fees for bringing a pet on board.
  • Get a health check and necessary vaccinations. Before flying, make sure your dog is in good health and up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations and shots. Some airlines may require a health certificate from a veterinarian, so make sure to bring this along with you to the airport.
  • Choose the right carrier. Airlines have specific requirements for pet carriers that are allowed in the cabin. The carrier must be large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It must also fit under the seat in front of you. Make sure to measure your dog and consult with the airline about their carrier requirements before purchasing one.
  • Book a direct flight. If possible, book a direct flight to minimize stress and the risk of your dog getting lost or left behind during a layover. Direct flights also tend to be shorter, which will be more comfortable for your dog.
  • Familiarize your dog with the carrier. Get your dog used to the carrier before the flight by leaving it open in your house and allowing your dog to go in and out freely. This will help your dog feel more comfortable in the carrier during the flight.
  • Communicate with the airline. Let the airline know in advance that you will be traveling with a large dog in the cabin. They may have specific procedures or requirements for larger dogs, and it’s important to be aware of these before you arrive at the airport.
  • Arrive early at the airport. It’s recommended to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before the scheduled departure time to allow enough time to check in and go through security. This will also give you enough time to calm your dog down before the flight.
  • Keep your dog calm during the flight. The noise and movement of the plane may be stressful for your dog, so make sure to provide comfort and reassurance throughout the flight. Talk to your dog and offer treats or toys to keep them occupied and relaxed.
  • Follow airline rules during the flight. During the flight, make sure to follow the airline’s rules and regulations for traveling with a pet. Keep your dog in the carrier at all times, and only take them out if permitted by the flight attendants.
  • Be prepared for emergencies. Accidents can happen during a flight, so make sure to pack supplies such as poop bags, pee pads, and a small towel in case your dog needs to relieve themselves during the journey.

Flying With a Large Dog in Cargo

Flying with a large dog in cargo is generally not recommended unless necessary. Cargo travel can be stressful and uncomfortable for dogs, especially those who are used to being with their owners at all times. Additionally, larger dogs may have difficulty fitting in airline-approved crates and may not be able to stand or turn around comfortably.

Why You Might Want to Fly with Your Large DogDOO 2

  • To avoid separation anxiety: Large dogs are often very attached to their owners and can experience separation anxiety when left alone. Traveling with your dog allows you to provide comfort and reassurance, helping them to remain calm and avoid distress.
  • For convenience: Traveling with your large dog eliminates the need to find a reliable and trustworthy pet sitter or boarding facility. This can save time and money, as well as provide peace of mind knowing your dog is with you.
  • Bonding opportunities: Taking your dog on a trip can strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Dogs are social animals and love spending time with their owners, so traveling together can be a fun and memorable experience for both of you.
  • Health concerns: Many dog owners are concerned about the well-being of their pets when they are left behind during travel. By taking your large dog with you, you can ensure they are safe and healthy, as well as avoid potential health risks that may arise at a pet boarding facility.
  • To explore pet-friendly destinations: There are plenty of pet-friendly destinations, such as restaurants, hotels, and attractions, that welcome large dogs. Flying with your dog allows you to visit these places without having to leave your pet behind.
  • To avoid breed restrictions: Some airlines have restrictions on certain dog breeds or sizes, making it difficult or impossible to travel with a large dog. By flying with your dog, you can select an airline that allows large dogs and avoid any air travel complications.
  • Emergencies: If you need to travel for an emergency, it may not be possible to leave your dog behind. Flying with your large dog allows you to bring them with you and ensure they are safe and taken care of during a stressful time.
  • Emotional support: Large dogs can provide comfort and support for their owners, especially for individuals with mental or emotional disorders. Bringing your dog with you on a flight can provide emotional support during a potentially stressful time.
  • Exercise and routine: Traveling can disrupt a dog’s routine and exercise habits, but by flying with your dog, you can ensure they still get the required exercise and maintain their normal routine, which can be beneficial for their physical and mental health.
  • Creating memories: Taking your large dog on a flight can create special memories and make your trip more enjoyable and unique. Whether it’s a family vacation or a solo trip, having your furry companion by your side can make it a more memorable experience.

Which Airlines Allow You to Fly with Large Dog?

  1. American Airlines
  2. Delta Airlines
  3. United Airlines
  4. Southwest Airlines
  5. Alaska Airlines
  6. JetBlue Airways
  7. Air Canada
  8. Lufthansa Airlines
  9. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  10. Emirates Airlines

How to Prepare Your Large Dog for FlyingDOO 3 1

  • Start early: Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your dog for flying. Start the process at least a month before the flight to give your dog enough time to get comfortable with the preparations.
  • Visit the vet: Take your dog to the vet for a check-up to ensure they are healthy enough to fly. Get all the necessary vaccinations and a health certificate if required by the airline.
  • Get a travel crate: Purchase a sturdy and airline-approved crate that is large enough for your dog to stand, turn, and lie down comfortably. Introduce the crate to your dog and let them get used to it by having it in the house for a few weeks.
  • Familiarize your dog with flying: If your dog has never flown before, it’s a good idea to take them on a short flight before the actual trip. This will help your dog get used to the sensations and noises of flying.
  • Train your dog for crate travel: Your dog needs to be comfortable in the crate for a long flight. Start crate training early by making it a positive experience for your dog with treats, toys, and praise.
  • Exercise and potty breaks: Before the flight, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and potty breaks to avoid any accidents during the flight. On the day of the flight, give your dog a good walk or play session to help them burn off excess energy.
  • Consider sedation: Talk to your vet about the option of sedation for your dog during the flight. Some dogs may become anxious or stressed during the flight and sedation can help them stay calm.
  • Pack the essentials: Don’t forget to pack all the necessary items for your dog, such as food, treats, water, bowls, a leash, and copies of their medical records.
  • Inform the airline: Most airlines require advance notice and have specific regulations for flying with large dogs. Make sure you inform the airline in advance and follow their guidelines.
  • Stay calm and positive: Dogs can sense their owner’s emotions, so it’s important to remain calm and positive throughout the entire process. This will help your dog feel more relaxed and at ease during the flight.

How to Keep Your Large Dog Comfortable During the Flight

  1. Choose the right airline: Not all airlines allow large dogs to travel in the cabin, so make sure you choose an airline that does. Also, research their pet policies and fees beforehand.
  2. Book a direct flight: Try to book a direct flight if possible, as this will reduce the number of times your dog will have to be handled and transferred.
  3. Get a proper travel crate: Your dog will need a secure and comfortable travel crate that meets the airline’s requirements. Make sure it is large enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lay down comfortably.
  4. Prepare your dog for the flight: Help your dog get used to the travel crate by leaving it open in the house and encouraging your dog to go inside. This will help your dog feel more comfortable in it during the flight.
  5. Familiarize your dog with the airport: Take your dog to the airport a few days before the flight to get it familiar with the environment and the sounds. This will help your dog feel less anxious on the day of the flight.
  6. Avoid feeding right before the flight: Dogs can get motion sick, so avoid feeding your dog a couple of hours before the flight. However, you can give your dog some water to keep it hydrated.
  7. Pack comfort items: Put your dog’s favorite toy, blanket, and a piece of clothing with your scent in the travel crate. This will provide a sense of familiarity and comfort for your dog.
  8. Exercise before the flight: Take your dog for a long walk or run before the flight to tire them out. This will help them relax and potentially sleep during the flight.
  9. Check on your dog during the flight: Some airlines allow pet owners to check on their dogs during the flight. If this is not possible, try to reassure your dog by talking to them and letting them know you are there.
  10. Please pick up your dog as soon as possible: As soon as you land, pick up your dog and take them for a bathroom break. Your dog will be relieved to be out of the travel crate and stretch their legs.

SEE ALSO: Dog Training Guide: Easy Ways to Train a Naughty Dog


Q. What is the best airline to fly with a big dog?

The best airline for flying with a big dog depends on several factors, such as the size of the dog, the destination, and the airline’s pet policies. Some top choices include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian, and JetBlue.

Q. How big is too big for a dog on a plane?

This question does not have a definitive answer as it can vary depending on the specific airline’s policies and the size of the dog. Generally, dogs that can comfortably fit in a soft-sided carrier that can fit underneath the seat in front of the owner are considered suitable for travel in the cabin.  So, a dog weighing up to about 20 pounds is considered a big enough dog.

Q. What is the best way to fly with a large dog?

The best way to fly with a large dog is on a crate and placed in the cargo hold beneath the plane.

Q. Will airlines ever allow large dogs in a cabin?

Yes, you can fly with large dogs in the cabin if your dog is NOT a service dog.

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