Smart Safety Tips for Bringing Dogs on Planes or in Cars

safety tips for taking dogs on airplanes and in cars

Safety is number one when traveling, including bringing dogs on planes or in cars. Whether you’re going on vacation, moving across country, or taking a trip to the grocery store, you need to ensure you protect your dog from accidents or illness.

How do I keep my dog safe when flying on an plane?

  1. Make sure you dog is healthy enough to travel. Most airlines require puppies to be at least 8 weeks old and weigh at least 2 pounds. Overweight or unhealthy pets sometimes have a more difficult time breathing.
  2. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all required vaccinations for each state or country where traveling. Keep a copy of these records with your dog while traveling.
  3. Use a safe and sturdy airline approved pet carrier or pet travel crate. Your pet should be able to move around comfortably and stand up on all fours and it should be ventilated on all sides. Check with your airline or transport company for pet carrier regulations.
  4. Allow your dog to get familiar and comfortable with the carrier ahead of time. Let them take a nap and relax in it for a few days before traveling.
  5. Make sure your dog is hydrated before the journey, keep a frozen water bottle handy for easy transport, plus an empty container to fill with fresh water.
  6. Avoid feeding your dog 2 hours before a flight, as air travel may upset their stomach.
  7. Prevent overheating by lining your pet’s crate with a towel instead of a thick blanket.
  8. Keep a supply of pet food with you for the journey as well as a supply taped securely to your pet’s carrier.

What are the rules for bringing dogs on planes?

All major airlines, such as Delta and United, have strict guidelines for bringing dogs on planes. Many airlines no longer allow Snub/short-nosed (brachycephalic) cat and dog breeds to travel on airplanes.

snnozer pet carrier airline approved dogs

Can my dog sit with me on a plane?

Small dogs can usually fly as carry-on baggage, which means your dog stays in an airline approved carrier that fits directly under the seat in front of you. They are usually expected to remain inside the carrier the entire flight.

Service animals and emotional support animals are expected to be seated in the floor space below your seat and should not extend into the aisles. Check with your airline for guidelines regarding traveling with service animals.

Medium and large dogs are usually flown as cargo in an airline approved pet travel crate, meaning they require a separate booking and are dropped off at the airlines cargo location several hours before departure. Because of safety issues, most airlines no longer allow snub/short-nosed (brachycephalic) cat and dog breeds to be flown as cargo on airplanes.

Can I take my English Bulldog or French Bulldog on an airplane?

Because of safety issues, most airlines no longer allow snub/short-nosed (brachycephalic) cat and dog breeds to be flown as cargo on airplanes. Many of these breeds, including English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, are too large to fly as carry-on baggage and cannot fit underneath the seats in front of you. For this reason, many owners choose to either privately take their bulldog by car or ship them using a professional pet shipping company that has experience shipping all sorts of animals and dog breeds.

4 tips for choosing a professional pet shipping company:

  1. Check their reputation. Online review sites such as Yelp, Google or social networks such as Facebook many give you an indications of their reputation. Ask the pet shipping company to give you professional reference that you can contact. Also check the Better Business Bureau for any record of complaints.
  2. Professional affiliations. Reputable pet shipping companies should belong to at least one association, such as the International Pet and Animal Transportation (IPATA) or International Air Transport Association (IATA).
  3. Background and experience. A well-established company that’s been doing business for many years is a good sign. Also a staff of well-trained, experienced employees who can answer all your questions about your pet’s shipping and safety.
  4. Relationships with major airlines. A professional pet shipping service should have established relationships with major airlines. Airlines want to ensure their cargo of pets is shipped safely and properly. They do not want a PR disaster doing business with a shady pet shipping company.

What is the best way to keep dogs safe when traveling in a car?

  1. Always ensure your car is cool and properly ventilated. Never leave your dog in a hot car with windows closed.
  2. Keep your dog secure with a car safety harness or dog seat belt that is tethered to the seat at all times.
  3. Small dogs can stay secure in a pet booster seat or pet carrier fastened in with your car seat belt.
  4. Use a pet seat cover with a hammock to prevent your dog from sliding the seat into the floorboard.
  5. Always keep a supply of water and a portable drinking bowl to keep your dog hydrated.


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