The Complete Guide to Flying Your Dog in Cargo

Pet Air Travel: The Complete Guide to Flying Your Dog in Cargo

Are you planning to travel with your furry companion? Flying with a dog in cargo can be a safe and convenient option for many pet owners. However, there are essential considerations and guidelines to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey for your beloved pet. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about flying your dog in cargo.

Safe Pet Shipping

flying dog in cargo

Pet safety is of utmost importance when it comes to air travel. Before making any bookings or arrangements, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the regulations and procedures to ensure a secure journey for your pet.

Here are some key tips to consider for safe pet shipping:

  1. Choose a pet-friendly airline: Not all airlines allow pets to travel in cargo, so it's essential to choose an airline that accommodates furry passengers. Do thorough research to find reliable airlines with good track records in pet transportation.
  2. Check weight and size restrictions: Airlines have specific weight and size limits for pets traveling in cargo. Measure and weigh your dog accurately to ensure compliance with the airline's guidelines.
  3. Secure an appropriate travel crate: Invest in a sturdy and well-ventilated travel crate that provides enough space for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Make sure the crate is IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved.
  4. Prepare a comfortable bedding: Line the crate with washable bedding or blankets to keep your dog cozy during the journey. Familiar scents from home can provide a sense of comfort.
  5. Provide identification and contact details: Attach a clear and visible identification tag to the crate, including your pet's name, your name, and contact information.
  6. Consult with your veterinarian: Visit your veterinarian before the trip to ensure your dog is healthy enough to fly. Obtain the necessary vaccinations, health certificates, and any other relevant documentation required by the airline or destination.
  7. Consider temperature and weather conditions: Extreme temperatures can pose risks to pets traveling in cargo. Plan your travel dates accordingly to avoid excessive heat or cold.

Flying Pets in Cargo: Rules and Regulations

When it comes to flying pets in cargo, there are specific rules and regulations set by the airline and relevant authorities. It's crucial to understand and comply with these guidelines to ensure a hassle-free experience.

Here are some essential rules and regulations to be aware of:

  • Advance booking: Airlines often have limited space for pets in cargo, so it's advisable to make your booking well in advance to secure a spot for your furry friend.
  • Age and breed restrictions: Some airlines have age and breed restrictions for pets traveling in cargo. Certain brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds may be prohibited due to potential respiratory issues.
  • Pet travel containers: The travel crate or container must meet specific requirements set by the airline and IATA. It should provide ample ventilation, sturdy construction, and secure locking mechanisms.
  • Fed and watered before the journey: Feed your pet a light meal a few hours before the flight, but avoid overfeeding. Provide water up until the time of travel. However, it's essential to check with the airline about any specific feeding guidelines.
  • Documentation: Ensure you have all the necessary documentation for your pet, including health certificates, vaccination records, and any permits required by the destination country or state.
  • Check-in procedures: Arrive at the airport well in advance to complete the check-in procedures for your pet. Follow the instructions provided by the airline and allow sufficient time for security checks and handling.
  • Inform the airline staff: Notify the airline staff that you have a pet traveling in cargo. This will ensure they handle your pet with care and provide any necessary instructions.
  • Recovery procedures: After reaching your destination, promptly proceed to the designated cargo area to collect your pet. Make sure you have proper identification to claim your furry friend.

Flying With Dogs: Tips for a Smooth Journey

If you're planning to fly with your dog, it's essential to make the necessary arrangements and preparations to ensure a stress-free journey for both you and your four-legged companion.

Here are some valuable tips for flying with dogs:

  • Choose direct flights: Opt for direct flights whenever possible to minimize travel time and reduce the chances of your dog experiencing unnecessary stress during layovers or transfers.
  • Exercise before the flight: Take your dog for a long walk or play session before the flight to burn off excess energy. A tired dog is more likely to rest during the journey.
  • Introduce the crate gradually: If your dog is not accustomed to being in a crate, introduce the crate gradually in the weeks leading up to the flight. This will help your dog feel more comfortable and relaxed during the journey.
  • Avoid sedation unless advised by a veterinarian: Generally, sedating your dog for air travel is not recommended unless specifically advised by a veterinarian. Sedation can affect a dog's ability to regulate body temperature and balance, potentially leading to complications.
  • Prepare a travel kit: Pack a travel kit with essential items such as food, water, collapsible bowls, poop bags, a leash, a blanket, and favorite toys. Having familiar items can provide comfort and familiarity for your dog during the journey.
  • Stay calm and reassuring: Dogs can pick up on their owner's emotions. Stay calm and speak to your dog in a reassuring tone to help alleviate any anxiety or stress.

Pet Travel Regulations: Know Before You Go

Before embarking on your pet travel adventure, it's crucial to research and understand the specific travel regulations and requirements of the airline and your destination. Each country and airline may have different rules and restrictions regarding pet travel.

Here are some general pet travel regulations to be aware of:

  • International pet travel: If you're flying with your dog internationally, research the import and export regulations of the destination country. Some countries have strict quarantine requirements or breed-specific restrictions.
  • Microchipping: Many countries require pets to be microchipped for identification purposes. Ensure your dog is microchipped before traveling and register your contact information accordingly.
  • Rabies vaccination: Rabies vaccination is often mandatory for pet travel. Make sure your dog's rabies vaccination is up-to-date, and carry the necessary documentation to prove it.
  • Health certificates: Depending on the destination, you may need to obtain a health certificate issued by a veterinarian. The health certificate verifies that your dog is in good health and free from any contagious diseases.
  • Quarantine requirements: Research quarantine regulations, if any, for your destination. Some countries may require pets to undergo quarantine upon arrival.

Cost of Flying Your Dog in Cargo

The cost of flying your dog in cargo can vary depending on several factors, including the airline, the size of your dog, the travel distance, and additional services.

Here are some common cost factors to consider:

  • Airline fees: Each airline has its own pet travel fee structure. Some charge a flat fee, while others calculate the cost based on the weight and size of the dog.
  • Travel crate: You'll need to purchase a suitable travel crate that meets airline and IATA requirements. The cost of the crate may vary depending on its size and quality.
  • Veterinary expenses: To comply with airline and destination requirements, you may need to visit your veterinarian for health checks, vaccinations, and obtaining necessary documentation. These expenses should be factored into the overall cost.
  • Add-on services: Airlines may offer additional services such as in-cabin pet travel or pet relocation assistance at an extra cost.

It's advisable to contact the airline directly to inquire about their specific fees and any additional costs involved in flying your dog in cargo.

Flying Your Dog in Cargo: American Airlines

American Airlines is one of the major carriers that allow pet travel in cargo. If you choose to fly your dog with American Airlines, here are some specific details to be aware of:

  • Booking process: You can book your dog's travel by contacting American Airlines reservations or their pet reservations team. It's recommended to make the booking well in advance to secure a spot.
  • Availability: American Airlines has a limited number of spots for pets in cargo, so it's essential to book early.
  • Fees: American Airlines charges a pet transportation fee, which is separate from the passenger ticket. The fee depends on the size and weight of your dog and the travel distance.
  • Restrictions: American Airlines restricts certain breeds from traveling in cargo, including brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds such as Bulldogs and Pugs. There may also be age restrictions and limitations during extreme weather conditions.
  • Health certificate: For international travel or specific destinations, American Airlines may require a health certificate issued by a veterinarian.

It's important to check the American Airlines website or contact their customer service for the most up-to-date information and specific guidelines regarding flying your dog in cargo.


Flying your dog in cargo can be a safe and efficient way to travel together. By following the guidelines and regulations outlined in this complete guide, you can ensure a smooth and secure journey for your furry friend.

Remember to research the specific requirements of your airline and destination, invest in a suitable travel crate, and prioritize your pet's safety and comfort throughout the entire travel process. With proper planning and preparation, you and your dog can embark on an unforgettable adventure, no matter the destination.