Skip To Content

    19 Ways To Make Flying With Your Dog A Whole Lot Easier, Better, And Honestly, Kinda Fun

    If my Pandemic Puppy™ can fly across the country, so can yours!

    Hi, guys! I'm Syd, and this is my pug daughter, Phoebe! Because COVID travel restrictions have been lessening, I decided to take Phoebe on a trip to California, which is, ya know, pretty far from our apartment in New York City.

    Since it would be my lil' Pandemic Puppy™'s first time on a plane, I wanted to document our experience. Here are some of the tips and tricks we learned along the way that, hopefully, will make traveling with your dog feel a little less daunting!

    Syd Robinson

    1. Get your dog used to their carrier ahead of time.

    Syd Robinson

    I ordered Phoebe’s carrier about a month before our trip so she’d have lots of time to get used to it. I got her this one from Roverlund in size large, which is great because it's soft-sided (so it's easier to fit into places) and certified airline compliant on most major airlines!

    When you're getting your pet used to their new carrier, my advice would be to never force them into it. Ideally, they should find it themselves. I simply left the carrier open under my desk, put one of my familiar old T-shirts that smells like me in it, and scattered some treats inside, and pretty soon, Phoebe started taking naps in it on her own terms!

    Also, it's probably worth noting that your dog's carrier counts as a carry-on item on your flight. JSYK!

    2. Take them on little walks or on car rides in their carrier to get them used to going from place to place in it!

    Syd Robinson

    Once your pup is comfy in their carrier at home, I’d lure them into it with a treat and start taking them on little walks in it to get them used to the feeling. I carried Phoebe in hers to the groomer, brought her with me in Lyfts, and even took her on the subway in it several times before we turned up at the airport!

    3. Do lots of research, and call ahead to check that your pet is permitted to fly — pet travel requirements change all the time.

    Syd Robinson

    Now that service animals and emotional support animals are far more regulated, traveling with certain pets has gotten a lot tougher. Many airlines now only permit pets 20 pounds and under to fly in-cabin — we were all good, since Phoebe is just under 15 pounds — so be sure to check with your specific airline prior to booking. In addition, only a certain number of pets are allowed in-cabin on flights, so just make sure yours is accounted for.

    4. And if you're flying your pup in-cabin, you'll have to pay a fee.

    Thalia de Jong /

    These prices usually range from $100 to $125 one way, depending on the airline.

    5. Book an afternoon or evening flight — or even a red-eye — so that you can give your dog lots of exercise beforehand.

    Syd Robinson

    This makes all the difference!!! Tire your poochini out as much as you can before the flight so that they spend the majority of their in-air time snoozing. Booking a red-eye makes this even easier because it already fits right into their typical sleep sched.

    6. And while you're at it, try to book a direct flight. No layovers!!!

    CBC /

    While a layover may seem like a good idea so you can let your dog out to do their business between flights, it really only elongates your travel day. That, and it restresses your pup out all over again. Book connecting flights only if you really have no other option.

    7. Get your dog's health and vaccination certificates from your vet within 10 days of your trip.

    Syd Robinson

    Definitely have these files on hand — I kept Phoebe's in the pocket of her carrier — but I will say, I wasn't asked for them once. But just to be safe, make sure that you have them and they're up-to-date. If you got them more than 10 days before your trip, they'll be considered out-of-date.

    8. Consult your veterinarian about calming medications if your dog gets anxious.

    Syd Robinson

    Regarding calming medication, I did have some worries. While I was researching pet travel for our trip, I came across a lot of online sources advising against medication because some allegedly "cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems due to the increase in altitude pressure." This was especially concerning to me because Phoebe is a pug, which is a more susceptible short-nosed breed.

    Now, I know Phoebe, and I KNEW she was going to need a little sumthin’-sumthin’ to help calm her down if we were gonna do this trip. But based on some more research and a talk with Phoebe’s vet, it seems like meds are iffier if a pet is traveling in the cargo hold, where air pressure can change, and not so much for those traveling in-cabin. (Shipping a pet in cargo is a whole other story — and some breeds aren't even allowed to do so, including pugs.) Regardless, consult your vet!

    9. Since you'll be traveling to a new and maybe unfamiliar place, be proactive and look up the nearest 24-hour emergency vets in the area, just in case.

    Paramount Network /

    Keep the numbers and addresses in your phone. Always good to be prepared so you know exactly where to go if something should ever happen.

    10. Feed your dog dinner approximately four hours before takeoff (in other words, two hours before you leave for the airport).

    Syd Robinson

    This gives them the perfect amount of time to digest and then use the animal relief area! Also, no one likes traveling on an empty stomach!

    11. Bring a water bottle for your pet, but monitor how much they drink.

    Syd Robinson

    This water bottle from Amazon is great! It's not nearly as messy as splashing a portable water bowl around everywhere, you can easily control how much water your pet gets, and it locks, so it won't spill!

    PRO TIP: Remember to pour out the water in the water bottle before going through TSA, and then buy bottled water once you’re in the terminal. Put some in your pup’s water bottle, and save the rest for you!

    12. Look up where the animal relief areas are in your respective airports ahead of time.

    I’m sure you'll also be able to find a TSA worker who can point you in the right direction, but it doesn't hurt to check before

    13. And this probably goes without saying (I hope???), but be sure to take your dog to an animal relief area RIGHT before and RIGHT after each flight!

    Syd Robinson

    It's also a good idea to pack some baby-bum wet wipes in your carry-on just in case your pup gets a nice lil' dingleberry post-potty. Oh, and this should also go without saying, but sadly, I've learned it needs to be said: CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    14. Get to the airport early.

    Syd Robinson

    Chances are, you may need to go through an assisted check-in just so they can correctly tag your dog’s carrier. Just safer to be on the earlier side!

    15. BRING. TREATS.

    Syd Robinson

    In my experience, treats were INSTRUMENTAL in luring Phoebe back into her carrier after going through TSA screening and using the animal relief stations. I'd just break them up into small pieces to make them last longer. Trust me when I say TREATS. ARE. CURRENCY.

    Make sure you have enough, and have them readily available — a fanny pack is honestly a game changer with this! I keep Phoebe’s treats and poo-poo bags in there at all times so I’m always prepared and they’re easily accessible.

    16. Bring chews for your pup if they get anxious!

    Syd Robinson

    Even though they are truly foul, I’ve found that Phoebe’s favorite thing to gnaw on when she’s anxious is bully sticks...aka dried bull d*cks. I knew they’d be helpful for her on our trip, so I got her these odorless ones from Amazon (some freakin’ REEK, but these were fine) out of courtesy to the other passengers on our flight.

    Just be sure to keep an eye on your pup when they chew these because they can gnaw them down until they’re small...then they can become a choking hazard. Trade them the gnawed-down bully stick for a bigger one, and repeat this process as many times as your pup needs!

    17. Bring a blanket to put over their carrier on the flight to limit visual distractions.

    Syd Robinson

    Just so that things aren’t so overwhelming, and they feel that they're in a safe and cozy lil' fort!

    18. Try to stay as calm as possible.

    Syd Robinson

    Traveling can be a lot, and doing it with a little bb in tow may seem even more stressful. But believe me when I say that the more you keep your cool, the calmer your dog will be.

    19. Enjoy traveling with your precious baby!!!!!!!!!

    Syd Robinson

    Trust me, there are few things as rewarding as getting to spend time with your pup in a new place — and one you'd never even dreamed you’d see together. Not to be hideously corny here, but traveling is one of the most freeing, eye-opening experiences one can have. Sharing these experiences with your dog only makes them more special. 💖

    To make your life a little easier, here are some helpful lil' packing lists for you and your pup!

    BuzzFeed / Kathy Hoang

    BuzzFeed / Kathy Hoang
    BuzzFeed / Kathy Hoang

    What pet travel tips do ✨YOU✨ swear by? Share them in the comments!!!