A Comprehensive Guide to Flying with Large Dogs

Flying with Large Dogs | Flying with pets can be stressful and often times last-minute decisions have to be made. Although traveling may always be necessary, it certainly can be miserable with large animals. Luckily, there are ways to travel with your pet that will make both of you happy.

This comprehensive guide will help you plan and execute a successful flight with your large dog. From choosing the right airline to packing your dog’s carry-on, we’ve got you covered.

Can Large Dogs Fly with You?

Yes, large dogs can travel with you as long as they are adequately crated and ready for flight. Your pet must be at least 8 weeks old to fly with several airlines. Dogs are regarded to be too delicate for long trips if they are any younger.

Additionally, your pet must be clear of contagious infections, ticks, and fleas. Make sure your dog is in a suitable crate, clean, and as peaceful as you can get him or her to reduce the likelihood of your dog being turned away at the airport (more on how to keep your dog calm while flying later).

A Comprehensive Guide to Flying with Large Dogs
A Comprehensive Guide to Flying with Large Dogs

What is The Price of Flying with Large Dogs?

To fly with a small dog in the cabin, you will spend about $125 one way. Costs for transporting a big dog on an airplane, whether as checked baggage or as cargo, can range from $200 to more than $1,000. Because of this variety, it’s crucial to do some research or contact the airline before purchasing tickets for your next trip.

  • Generally speaking, it costs more to fly your dog through bag check than as a carry-on, and cargo is more expensive than the other two alternatives.
  • Just as with ticket prices, it costs more to travel your pet internationally than domestically.
  • The fact that some airlines charge more than others shouldn’t be shocking.
  • Flying with a pet could be more expensive if you’re going somewhere isolated or where only smaller planes can land.

There is a distinction to be made between large dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, and VERY large dogs, such as Great Danes. If your dog is REALLY huge, he or she will probably need to travel as cargo and could also require further accommodations. Additional fees may apply.

Why You Might Want to Fly with Your Large Dog

A Comprehensive Guide to Flying with Large Dogs
A Comprehensive Guide to Flying with Large Dogs

Dogs of all sizes can travel with you on commercial flights, but only a select few airlines allow it. Here are some of the reasons why:
They offer less stress for the flight attendant and other passengers.
Airlines require that you undergo several mandatory steps before your pet can be brought onboard. These steps include full health certificates and other documents to ensure the safety of everyone on the plane. The certificate process also allows the airline to be prepared for any health issues that your dog may encounter during the flight.
Many airlines have restrictions on what kinds of animals they allow onboard their flights. For example, many airlines do not allow cats or monkeys on their flights. Some of these airlines require that the animal you are traveling with be small enough to fit in a pet carrier. This can add up quickly, especially if you are a frequent flier.

How to Fly with a Large Dog

1. Choose the Right Airline

Although many airlines do not allow pets to be carried on board, some do. Each airline has its own policies and requirements, so it is important to do your research before booking your flight. Here are some airlines that allow large dogs to be carried on board:

Air Canada

One of the airlines that is more tolerant of passengers traveling with huge dogs is Air Canada. As long as it weighs no more than 100 pounds, you are allowed to check your dog’s baggage. If there are any more, it must be included in the cargo. For local flights, the cost is around $130, while for international trips, it is under $320.

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Air France

Air France has rather rigorous K9 travel regulations. Only canines without snub noses and weighing less than 30 pounds may travel in the hold. And the costs may go over $300.

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Lufthansa

With Lufthansa, large dogs can fly in the cargo hold for $150 to $400, depending on their size and the length of the voyage.

Sun Country Airlines

One of the most straightforward procedures for huge dogs is offered by Sun Country Airlines: they travel as checked luggage and cost $200 each flight segment.

WestJet

WestJet offers among of the most affordable dog rules; the cost to fly with a dog as checked baggage is often around $100.

American Airlines

When it comes to travelling with large dogs, American Airlines has certain restrictions. To some locations, animals weighing 100 pounds or less (including the weight of the carrier) might travel for $200 or even less (like Brazil). Remember that space is at a premium on airplanes, and that access for large dogs on American Airlines flights is first-come, first-served. Therefore, arrive early if you want to guarantee your dog a place.

Delta Airlines

All big dogs on Delta flights fly in cargo for a cost of between $150 and $200. Remember that if your travel is longer than 12 hours, you must discuss your pet’s health and safety with the airline.

Emirates

Emirates is one among the more costly carriers, with kennel prices ranging from $500 to $800. However, if the travel is 17 hours or less, large dogs may fly as checked luggage.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines permits dogs up to 70 pounds in total (including the kennel’s weight) to be checked as luggage. Anything heavier must be carried as freight. Prices might differ, but they are normally $450 or less.

2. Book the Right Seat

Just like people, dogs come in all shapes and sizes. The right seat might be cramped for one dog, but comfortable for another. One thing is for sure, the last thing you want to do is have your dog make an uncomfortable situation even worse. Check out the dog legroom guide for more information.

3. Ensure Your Pet Has the Right Travel Documents

Dogs and cats traveling outside of the United States must be accompanied by a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian within the United States. This certificate must be dated within 14 days of travel.

4. Prepare Your Pet for the Flight

Although it may be tempting to take your dog directly onto the plane, this is against FAA regulations. You can either wait until just before boarding time or follow some of these steps beforehand: Give your dog ample time to eliminate.

If you have not done so previously, bring along a bag that is large enough to allow your dog to safely do their business. Show your dog where to go, in the unlikely event they have to relieve themselves on the plane. Make sure they are wearing a collar and ID tag.

5. Prepare Your Pet’s Carrier

Make sure you have a comfortable carrier for your dog, as well as a bag to carry their waste. Check with the airline before departure to make sure they will allow your pet onboard. Keep in mind that if your pet is disruptive or creates a mess on the plane, the airline could refuse to allow them on board and ground your flight.

6. Prepare for the Possible Discomfort

Even if your dog is used to traveling, they may not be comfortable sitting in an aircraft seat. Some dogs have issues with motion sickness, while others might have trouble remaining calm during takeoff and landing.

7. Board the Plane!

As soon as you are allowed on the plane, make your way to the aircraft and find your assigned seats. Depending on the size of your dog, they might need a seat by the window or another row. Once everyone is settled, put your dog carrier underneath the seat in front of you and secure it with the seat belt.

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How to Prepare Your Large Dog for Flying

How to Prepare Your Large Dog for Flying
How to Prepare Your Large Dog for Flying

Large dogs have their own challenges when it comes to traveling. Here are some tips to help you get through the process:

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1. Book the Right Seat

For best results, choose an aisle seat so that you can quickly lift your dog into the carrier without having to move other passengers. Keep in mind that if your dog has trouble standing for a long period of time, they may not be able to remain comfortable during take off and landing.

2. Give Your Dog Plenty of Time to Eliminate

A full bladder can be stressful for a dog, especially one that has never flown before. Allow plenty of time for your dog to eliminate, and make sure they are hydrated. It is a good idea to bring some toys with you to keep your dog occupied while they wait.

3. Prep Your Dog’s Carrier

The last thing you want is for your dog to have an accident in their carrier on the plane. To avoid this, make sure their carrier is large enough for them to comfortably lie down and stand up inside. You may also want to invest in a new, airline approved, travel crate.

4. Prepare Your Dog’s Carrier

Just like with small dogs, make sure your large dog’s carrier is comfortable for them to lie down in. A towel or soft mat would be a great addition as well. Check with the airline before departure to make sure it will be allowed on the plane.

What to Do If Your Large Dog Gets Sick During the Flight


If your dog gets sick during the flight, here are some things you can do to help keep them calm and comfortable:

  1. Move Them to the Middle of the Plane: Dogs don’t like to be crowded so if they are in a seat near the front of the plane, move them back towards the back. On the other hand, if they are at the back of the plane, move them closer to the middle of the plane.
  2. Keep Them Quiet: If your dog is making too much noise, ask the flight attendant for a blanket or another passenger’s jacket. This will help muffle their barking.
  3. Offer Them Water: If your dog is on a flight with a water bottle, take it and place it in front of them so they can lap water without having to get up.
  4. Give Them a Lying Down Stimulus: Give your dog something to lie down on to help distract them from the upset stomach. Some people have even used old blankets and towels. If you have access to a pet carrier or even an extra seatback pocket, bring that inside the cabin to use as a makeshift kennel.
  5. Try An OTC Antacid: Motrin is a common over the counter medication that can help with upset stomachs. If your dog doesn’t seem to be getting any better, ask the flight attendant for some ice or a blanket and give your dog some Motrin to help calm their stomach.
  6. Give Them Something to Chew On: If your dog has something to chew on while they are in the cabin, they will probably be less anxious. Some people have given their large dogs pieces of apple or even chicken jerky to distract them.
  7. Encourage Them to Do Something Calm: If your dog is calm and relaxed, this will help keep them from getting worked up over their upset stomach. Some ideas are to have them chew on a bone or give them something to sniff. If they are anxious and pacing around, they will probably be even more upset.
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How to Keep Your Large Dog Comfortable During the Flight

Here are some tips to help your large dog be comfortable during the flight:

1. Make Sure Their Crate Is Leash-friendly

Any time you have to carry your dog’s crate on the plane, it makes it more difficult for them to lie down comfortably in it. The best solution is to buy a crate that converts into a bed so they can just put it in their lap and relax.

2. Provide Them with a Blanket

A blanket provides extra cushioning and allows your dog to feel like they are inside of a cozy den or nest. Some people have even wrapped their dog in a blanket on the floor of the airplane.

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3. Provide Them with a Pillow

A pillow can also be placed inside their crate to make it more comfortable for them. If you have a large dog, you may already have one of these in your house that you can use.

4. Give Them Something to Drink

If your dog has a water bottle or another container, take this and place it by their crate so they don’t have to get up during the flight.

5. Make Sure Their Crate Is Large Enough

Make sure their crate is large enough for them to stretch out and be comfortable. Many people recommend that crates be no smaller than a 90-degree angle.
If you are on the aisle, the front of the plane will be too bumpy for your dog. The back of the plane will be less bumpy and your dog will likely be more relaxed.

6. Provide Them with a Comfortable Seatbelt

If your dog is comfortable in their crate, put them in the seat next to it and make sure their seatbelt is loose enough that they can move around without being restrained.

7. Bring a Comforting Treat

Providing a special treat for when they get on the plane will be a reward in itself.

8. Bring Something to Keep Them occupied

If you have a tablet or smartphone, bring it on the flight and let them watch videos or play games.

9. Feed Them Before Takeoff

I know that this is easier said than done, but if you feed your dog at regular intervals they will probably be less stressed during the flight.

10. Take Them Outside the Plane

Even though it may seem like a good idea to keep them inside because of the pressure change, taking them outside will help them deal with the change in pressure and make them less anxious.

11. Give Them Something to Drink After Takeoff

Giving them something to drink helps them process the new change in pressure. If your dog is making the other passengers uncomfortable, don’t take them on your next flight. See how they feel after they have been traveling with you for a while.

A Comprehensive Guide to Flying with Large Dogs

Conclusion: Flying with Large Dogs

Traveling with a large dog can be challenging, but there are ways to make it easier on your pup. Keep them well-hydrated and give them plenty of space. You should also make sure they have a comfy place to lay down and relax. A blanket and pillow can help. If they get anxious during the flight, try some of these tricks to help them feel more comfortable. If you have any other tips to make traveling with a large dog easier, please share them in the comments section below.

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