Every pet owner needs to answer one question before doing a traveling hack search. Before you check with your airline, before you purchase your carrier, even before you go to the vet with questions—you need to determine if your pet can, in fact, fly on an airplane. Answering this question boils down to three factors: size, age, and temperament.
When thinking about size, think about your average carry-on. If your pet is larger than your small rolling suitcase, odds are, you shouldn’t bring him on an airplane. Some airlines provide pet traveling services for larger dogs, but, unless you want to incur hundreds of dollars in traveling fees, stick to traveling with your teacup chihuahua instead of your chocolate lab. If your pet can sit comfortably in your lap for extended periods of time, he’s okay to travel. Looking for an airline-by-airline guide? Try this resource from BringFido.
Age is another prohibiting factor. If the airline or travel destination requires a vet visit or has age limitations, it may be impossible and unwise to get the clearance you need. Older pets do not travel well, but pets that are too young may not have had time to get all the vaccinations they need. I know from traveling to Hawaii that puppies and kittens need to be at least 10 months to safely receive all their shots.
The third factor is, in many ways, the most important. Remember that not all dogs can comfortably travel, and you need to take your pet’s temperament into consideration. Does Princess yip every time she gets spooked? Does Bubbles pee when he gets too excited? Does Molly have a penchant for getting pounced on by stalking felines?
High-stress and high-anxiety dogs are rarely suited for airplane travel; it’s not worth the stress for your pet, and your fellow passengers will thank you.