Things You Should Never Do While Flying With Your Pet

Sometimes, you can’t avoid bringing your pet onto a flight. Getting yourself through security and to your boarding area is stressful as it is, let alone adding a pet into the mix. While it certainly is possible to fly with an animal, you should make sure to know all the ins and outs before arriving at the airport and trying to catch your flight.

There are certain things you should never do while flying with your pet, as certain aspects of flying can actually put their life at risk. Here’s everything that’s crucial for you to avoid.

Dog on an airplane

Dog on an airplane | Jaimie Tuchman/iStock/Getty Images

Putting your pet in cargo during summer and winter months

If your pet weighs more than 20 pounds, that means they’ll have to ride in cargo. Flying with your pet in cargo during the winter or summer months can, at best, be highly uncomfortable for your pet. At worst, it could be life-threatening. The extreme weather in each season can make temperatures impossible to control, putting your pet in serious danger. If you have to travel during these months, either hire a pet sitter or board your pet during your trip.

Feeding your pet immediately before flying

It’s quite common for pets to get sick while flying. This is especially true if they end up eating right before takeoff. According to the Humane Society, you should avoid feeding your pet between four and six hours prior to your trip. While your pet can have water throughout travel, a full water bowl is guaranteed to spill and cause discomfort. Instead, try putting ice cubes inside of a water tray that can attach to your pet’s crate.

Tranquilizing your pet

If your pet gets particularly stressed, it may seem like a good idea to give them tranquilizers before travel. However, you shouldn’t do this unless a veterinarian prescribes it. Think about other options you may have before tranquilizing your pet, such as sedatives and herbal relaxers, in which case you should still check with your vet.

Making layover stops while flying

If you feel physically drained by the end of a layover flight, imagine how your pet would feel. Try to book only direct flights in order to make the trip as quick as possible. According to Bustle, “Travel can be not only stressful, but dehydrating and harsh on your pet’s immune system.”

White dog sitting in a crate

White dog sitting in a crate | kozorog/iStock/Getty Images

Flying over the holidays

If you’re planning to travel home to see your family over the holidays, flying during this time may be difficult to avoid. From overcrowded airports to extremely busy airport employees, traveling with your pet will be a stressful situation for everyone involved. If you’d rather not board your pet over the holidays, consider making a road trip out of your travels instead of flying.

Putting a short-nosed dog in cargo

Cargo puts short-nosed dogs in truly life-threatening danger, so it should always be avoided. Those dog breeds include the American Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Boxer, English or French Bulldog, King Charles Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Pug, Shar-Pei, or Shih Tzu, according to the Huffington Post.

Between June 1 and Sept. 30, these dogs in the brachycephalic category are banned from airplanes in any capacity. Due to their respiratory issues, along with the combined stress of temperature and circulation, cargo is off-limits when temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Putting your pet in an overhead compartment

Animals under 20 pounds and that can fit into a TSA-approved animal carrier are allowed to ride in the cabin with you. However, you should always tuck them under the seat in front of you. Never put your pet in an overhead luggage area — even if a crew member suggests otherwise. 

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