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Air Travel with Pets

Pets on a plane: What you need to know


Pets on a plane

Air travel always goes more smoothly when you’ve planned ahead and made wise choices. The same rule applies to flying with your cat or dog.

At least two weeks before your flight:

  • Consider whether your pet might be better off staying home, or traveling by car instead of by air. Short-snouted pets, such as pugs and Persian cats, may have difficulty breathing on planes.
  • Plan for the weather, especially if your pet absolutely must fly in the cargo hold. That part of the plane isn’t temperature-controlled, so try to fly during the day in winter or at night in summer for your pet’s comfort.
  • Make sure your airline allows pets (not all of them do). Be sure to book your flight early; some airlines only allow one or two passengers per flight to bring a pet.
  • Select non-stop flights, this way your pet doesn’t have to change planes or sit on the tarmac.
  • If possible, travel on the same flight with your pet.

At least 10 days before the flight:

  • Visit the veterinarian to be sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccinations and healthy enough for travel. Get a copy of your pet’s medical records, including a Veterinary Health Certificate, which the airline may require.
  • Talk to your vet if you’re worried that flying will make your pet anxious. Always keep in mind that the ASPCA does NOT recommend sedating pets for air travel.
  • Make sure your pet’s carrier is a size and type approved by the airline, is clearly marked with your contact information, and has a label that reads “Live Animal — This Side Up.”
  • Include washable bedding in your pet’s carrier.

The day of the flight

  • Keep your pet well hydrated.
  • Don’t feed pets for 12 hours before flying.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and ID tag with your contact information.
  • Keep your pet’s medical information in your carry-on luggage.
  • Carry a photo of your pet with you.
  • Make sure your pet has a chance to do their business immediately before and after the flight.

During the flight

  • If you are able to bring your pet into the airplane’s cabin, keep them in the carrier.

Before your return flight

  • Be sure your pet’s Veterinary Health Certificate is still valid. The certificate is only good for a month, so if you’re taking a long trip, you might need to contact your veterinarian again for a new one.