The 10 Best Airline Approved Dog Carriers
This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in May of 2015. Just because you're going on vacation doesn't mean you always have to leave your furry companion behind. Any one of these airline-approved dog carriers make it possible for Fido to come along for the ride. Many of our options include zippered pockets, padded interiors, and collapsible frames that fit under most airplane cabin seats without sacrificing a pet's safety or comfort. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best airline approved dog carrier on Amazon.
What To Look For In An Airline Dog Carrier
If you prefer to have your hands entirely free during travel, then get a carrier that you can wear like a backpack.
So, look for a carrier with an opening in the top, so your dog can pop their head out.
Traveling through airports and riding on airplanes can be a rather stressful experience for dogs. Some airports have taken pains to accommodate pets, even creating rest areas for them, but they can still be hectic environments for animals. If your dog doesn't fly regularly, the sounds and movement of an airplane can scare them, not to mention the close proximity of dozens of strangers. For that reason, it's important that the dog carrier you choose lets your pet feel that they have personal space on a plane. Make sure it's large enough for your dog to be able to stand up and fully turn around.
Dogs like to stick their heads out of their carriers for many of the same reasons they love to stick their heads outside of car windows. So, look for a carrier with an opening in the top, so your dog can pop their head out. Owner comfort is important, too. One might have to walk for up to twenty minutes when traveling between terminals. Carrying a dog for that entire length of time can be exhausting. Fortunately, some airline dog carriers come on wheels and work very much like a rolling suitcase. If you decide to get a carrier that you actually need to carry, make sure it has padded shoulder straps.
If you prefer to have your hands entirely free during travel, then get a carrier that you can wear like a backpack. Airlines usually require passengers with dogs to put their carrier under the seat and in front of them, just like a regular carry-on item. But this means your dog will be next to other passengers' bags and feet. To keep your dog safe from other passengers' bags that could shift during the flight, invest in a carrier with sturdy walls.
How To Keep Your Dog Calm On A Plane
If your plane isn't very full, try to find a mostly-empty row to sit in with your pup. Most animals prefer to be away from the commotion on an airplane. It's a good idea to fly on light travel days for several reasons, actually. The fewer passengers the flight staff need to attend to, the more attention they can pay to keep your pet safe and comfortable. If your pet suffers from severe anxiety on a plane, causing them to urinate in their crate and cry for hours, you can try several natural remedies, including giving them natural herbal supplements or even getting them a massage beforehand.
Put an unwashed sweatshirt or t-shirt that you wear a lot in your dog's carrier. They'll be calmed by the scent of your pheromones. There are even various pheromone products, like sprays, that you can place in your dog's crate. Remember that your dog looks to you for cues on what to feel, so if you're nervous, your dog will be, too. Act as if flying on a plane is as common as sitting on your couch.
It can help to sign up for priority seating so that you can board the plane as early as possible. This can help your dog get used to simply being on the plane before all of the sounds and the commotion of takeoff happen.
How To Prepare Before Flight Day
Most airlines only have a limited number of spots available for dogs. Call the airline long before your flight to reserve a seat for your dog; if you show up the day of your flight hoping to bring your dog, you may be turned away. Each airline has its own rules on dog carrier sizes, but most allow carriers between 16 and 19 inches tall. Have all of your dog's paperwork organized and packed before leaving for the airport. Some airlines require that you have a proof of vaccinations with you.
You can, however, give your dog water right before, and during the flight.
If you are flying during the summer, check the forecast for your day of travel before your trip. Some airlines that take pets in their cargo put an embargo on animal travel on hot days. This is in your dog's best interest, but it can interfere with your plans, so plan ahead for this inconvenience.
Don't feed your dog too close to takeoff. It's best to give food three hours before the flight, so your dog doesn't fly on an empty stomach, but doesn't face any digestive issues in-flight. You can, however, give your dog water right before, and during the flight. Make sure your dog's water bowl is secured to the inside of his crate so it doesn't slide around during the flight. Some carriers have built-in water bowls. While you may not typically use these for grownup dogs, pee pads are great to have on hand for a flight. Line your dog's crate with these in the case of an accident.
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