Some things were never meant to fly…

March 27th, 2007 by Kathy Hawkins

In my post last week, I talked about how to plan a road trip with your dog. Today, I’d like to discuss a different method of travel — airplanes. When, if ever, is it a good idea to bring your dog along?


In most situations, it’s really not worth the stress and potential danger of bringing your dog on board. If she is crated and left in the luggage hold, she will be afraid and stressed, and there is a risk of overheating.

This Canberra Times article tells the story of an Australian family who moved to Norway, and wanted to bring their Golden Retriever, Pheobe, along with them. They paid $3,000 for Pheobe to be transported in the cargo hold of another plane, and were eagerly awaiting her arrival. However, after landing in Norway, they discovered that Pheobe hadn’t made it there — tragically, the flight that Pheobe was on had been delayed by five hours, and she had died of heat stress before the plane left ground.

Unfortunately, such incidents are all too common. The ASPCA issues a monthly report of animals lost, injured, or killed while on board commercial aircrafts. In December 2006, there were 49 such incidents reported. The ASPCA highly recommends that pet owners avoid bringing their pets on commercial airline flights, particularly in the luggage hold.

If you must take your pet on a flight, please try to bring her on board with you in an under-the-seat carrier. She will be much safer and more comfortable this way. A summary of various airlines’ pet travel policies is available from the Humane Society. If you’ve already committed to fly with your pet in the cargo hold, however, the ASPCA provides a list of tips, including a pre-flight vet check up, getting a direct flight, and insisting that airline staff check on the animal in the event of a delay. If you want to minimize the risk to your dog, please follow all of these guidelines; better yet, leave your dog at home.

For certain dog breeds, air travel isn’t advisable under any circumstances. These breeds include Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Pekingese — because these breeds have snub noses, the thin air at high altitudes can make it very difficult or impossible for them to breathe. Many airlines have restrictions on these types of dogs, but even if they don’t, please don’t take them along. It’s not worth the risk.

The bottom line? If you can drive somewhere, take the dog along for the ride. If you need to fly, find someone to watch her while you’re gone. You’ll have a much better time knowing that she’ll be safe — and just imagine how happy she’ll be when you come home!

One Response to “Some things were never meant to fly…”

  1. Ready for a Road Trip? | Dog Reflections Says:

    [...] Check out this article for tips on flights with your dog. [...]

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