Flying with a Small Dog

I’ve had quite a few questions from fans about how to fly with your dog, so I thought it was about time I go through and tell you what I know. I won’t claim to be an expert though, so if there is something I missed, feel free to let me know in the comments. Also keep in mind that I do receive special exceptions sometimes due to my celebrity status, but I will try and detail this for the average flyer ; )

Booking a Dog on Your Flight

So to start off, most airlines will say you can bring a small dog in the cabin of the plane if the dog is small enough to fit comfortably under the seat in front of you and is less than about 15-20 pounds (varies by airline). They also need to be in a pet carrier (travel bag) – recommended to be soft-sided. Here is me with my carry bag which I got from the JetBlue pet program called JetPaws.

crusoe-takeoff

Then there will be a pet fee that once again varies by airline, but in my experience has ranged from $50 – $100 per direction.

Some airlines will let you book the dog online with your regular ticket, while others require you to call in. Most airlines usually have a limit of about 2 dogs per flight as well! (Celebrities excepted).

Airline Pet Friendliness

We all know that some airlines have better customer service than others. I’ve only traveled a few, but here’s what I think based on my experiences.

JetBlue has awesome people service, and great dog service as well. The flight attendants usually don’t mind if I come out from under the seat and sit on Mum or Dad’s lap (all airlines will say the dog has to stay in the carrier under the seat for the whole flight). Then there’s WestJet, which is essentially the Canadian version of JetBlue. They have awesome people service as well, but they are less than accommodating when it comes to dogs. As soon as my nose peeps out from my bag, there’s an attendant there to say, “zip it up!“.

American Airlines isn’t that great with dogs either. They aren’t as bad as WestJet, but not as good as JetBlue.

I have also traveled Air Canada a few times, and they are very much like American Airlines in that their people service is less than par. Yet, ironically, they have the best dog service of them all! Their flight attendants are always happy to see me out and about from my travel bag. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that I had some really nice attendants, or maybe it’s just because they recognized me and were trying to suck up to my celebrity stature.

Now I am just speaking generally on my experiences with these airlines. There is always the chance that you will just find a super nice (or grumpy) attendant on any of these airlines who will make or break your flight.

Check out the small dog travel blog for more info and experiences on various airlines, dogjaunt.com.

How I Feel About Flying

I am a very comfortable flyer. In fact, I did a post a while ago called Jet-Settin’ Dachshund that you might want to check out after reading this one.

I took my first flight when I was just a few months old, and then at fairly regular intervals after that. So I am pretty well accustomed to flying.

dachshund-on-a-plane

However, during takeoff I get the nervous shakes. I look to Mum and Dad for affirmation that everything is okay. Once we’re in the air I am fine, and actually, even a little curious..

dachshund-on-an-airplane

The landing is a bit scary as well.

One thing that Mum is always worried about is that I will pee in my carrier, just because it happened one time (geez, get over it, I was a puppy). Anyway, I like to hold it in the day of travel, and no matter how much Mum and Dad try, I won’t pee for a long time.

Actually, one time Mum brought along puppy peepee pads. After a long first flight, a connection, and then onto our second flight – I still hadn’t peed. So while on the plane, Mum asked (ordered) Dad take me into the bathroom, where he laid out the peepee pad to try to get me to go. I wouldn’t. So he tried peeing a few drops himself onto the pad to spur me into thinking it was appropriate. I was just disturbed by this, which didn’t help.

Mum always brings a bunch of small treats to feed me throughout the flight (so the swallowing equalizes my ears).

Traveling With Your Dog Outside Your Country

This is quite a bit different than traveling within your own country. If you are looking to take your doggy to another country though, I recommend you check to see if that country has a quarantine rule. Some will require you leave the dog in quarantine for around 2 weeks or more upon arrival to make sure the dog is healthy and not carrying any diseases.

As you can imagine, I am way too famous to do that.

Each country will have their own regulations for bringing a pet. I will use my upcoming trip to Bahamas as an example.

Traveling With Your Dog to the Bahamas

Here’s everything you need to do to bring your dog to the Bahamas:

  1. You need to download and fill out an import permit application from the Bahama Tourism website. There are some restrictions listed in this document. For instance, the dog has to be at least 6 months old, have had the correct vaccinations, etc.
  2. Once you fill out the form with some basic questions about your dog, you have to mail it to the Bahamas Department of Agriculture with a $10 money order or cheque for processing fee. If you provide an extra $5 then once the application is granted, they will fax the import permit back to you instead of mailing it back. This is what I did to expedite the process. The permit is valid for traveling within one year from time of issue.
  3. You will need to bring this import permit with you when you travel. You also have to bring a Veterinary Health Certificate of the dog that has been issued within 48 hours before importation, and the vet also has to sign the import permit.
  4. Once you arrive, you need to give a duplicate copy of all the documentation to a customs officer, and then again, within 48 hours after arrival, the dog has to see a Bahamas vet for the same check (update: when we went to the Bahamas, no one even looked at our papers, and we never bothered to go see a vet on the island (there wasn’t even one on the island we went to). This part I would say is not necessary).

I can’t say I’m looking forward to the double-vet visit. As you can see, I can’t even look at a vet..

dachshund-at-the-vet

And actually, one thing I haven’t looked into yet is any regulations in coming back to Canada. So, good thing I did this post! I’ll get my manager on that right away.

So, it’s a long and complicated process, but it will all be worth it for the Bahamas! I can’t wait to strut my stuff down the beach!

If you have any questions or insights of your own, please let us know in the comments!

Keep jet-settin’,

~ Crusoe

Comments

comments

20 Responses to Flying with a Small Dog

  1. Crusoe, you have a far more exciting life than I do! 🙂 I enjoy your posts immensely. Keep exploring and writing. Have an awesome, I mean pawsome vacation little man! <3

  2. My pet travels frequently with me. I agree American Airlines is not very pet or people accommodating. Some say to decrease the amount of water the night before and the day of the flight. I do not agree. Just as people get dehydrated on flights so do pets. I have taken the pee pad a little further. I place one in the bottom of his carrying case – just in case as that is usually where the accident occurs. He also travels with his favorite toe (non squeaky of course) and blanket. The 1st trip the vet had me give him benadryl. We did this one time and since them he just automatically goes to sleep now. The biggest suggestion that I can make is to check the vaccine requirements for the destination. For example the vaccines required at the place of residency might differ from destination. Also just like for humans, certain areas suggest certain vaccines e.g. west nile vaccine that might not be needed or suggested in your area of residence or required at destination – but highly recommended. My dog is also on seizure medication. This proved difficult initially as the meds have to be kept cool and in original container. Just like for humans – keep all dog meds in original bottles and also it is recommended to have a written prescription from the vet verifying the bottled script. If the dog is prone to getting car sick they will probably get air sick. Talk to your vet. Also, pets ears pop too. I’ve learned to allow the dog a chew toy or a little snack during take off’s and landings to help equalize the ear pressure. Hope this is helpful.
    I too love love your adventures and postings.

  3. i’ve travelled many, many times in my almost 8 years. (I would at least estimate flying more than 20 times.) I have NEVER been allowed out of my travel Sherpa (dog carrier.) And I’m just a little Doxie like you! Every time Mommy tried to let me peek out, think again! I’ve never had an accident in my carrier. I go right under the seat and fall right to sleep when I fly. I’ve done great! I’ve had more problems flying with the people sitting in the seats who say dogs should be allowed to fly, then I’ve had problems with anything else.

    Hugs,
    Muffin

  4. Great post Crusoe.
    For those just looking into this it might be worth mentioning the weight includes the weight of the bag. Depending on the bag it could be make or break. And some airlines are stinko’s and will not let you on the plane if you are one ounce over !!!
    Ask your mom to look into Rescue Remedy – we used it when I traveled on the train and it might help landings and take offs. It’s totally natural.
    And last …. Sheesh re the pee pee in the carrier !! We do something once and our mom’s just can’t let it go !! What about some of their bologna ????!!!
    Enjoy your trip !

  5. We took our doxie to Texas this past April and were very surprised to see a doggie relief room in the Washington Airport…complete with astro turf and a fire hydrant. Worked like a charm…of course we didn’t notice the sign that said it was for service dogs until we left…oops. We had a great flight attendant on the flight home from Chicago…he let me take my dog out of his carrier and up on my lap for the entire trip.

  6. On most US carriers, bringing your dog under the seat also means that you forfeit your larger carry on bag. So you are going to have to check your bag for another $25 each way in addition to paying for the dog to travel.

    Some seats are better than others to fit the bag under. If the configuration is 3-across, the center seat is usually the one that has the most room for the dog. Window seats are not good – the curvature of the plane cuts off the space and it’s difficult to get the bag under there. Of course, if you have the aisle or window seat assignment, someone with a center is always will to trade.

    Additionally, I always bring a couple of small fleece blankets in the carrier. It can get cold on the plane, and my little 16 lb. mini gets cold.

    She travels like a dream and usually sleeps the whole time. I have also taken her on the NY subway and on Chicago’s commuter rail in her carrier. If we have a connecting flight, we usually walk out of the airport to let her “go out,” and then come back through security. For some reason, the security people are always so nice when it’s a connecting flight, and we have never had a problem getting back through security in time.

    Airline staff and/or security may check at any time that you have your receipt for the dog’s travel on hand – make sure you do! The US requires a vet certificate too. We always get one, but no one has ever asked to see it for domestic flights.

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  8. I absolutely love your blog Crusoe! So kawaii! I also heard you like to play videogames. If you like hardcore videogames try Touhou. My favorite game is Animal Crossing New leaf. What is your favorite game?

    -Yuyuko Saigyouji

  9. My name is Sabe. I am not supposed to know yet, but (overhearing my mommy on the phone) I am flying to Paris next January for ooen-heart surgery. Not sure what that is but I think it must be serious 😱 I cannot take any sedatives because of my heart problem so any recommendations like the Rescue Remedy will be appreciated. I think we are breaking the trip into two 5 hour segments so I (and mommy) can stretch and pee. A couple of questions:

    Best carrying case? I am 12-13 lbs. we will probably be in coach. I like to stretch out when I sleep!
    I am a comfort dog, but will I get into mommy’s lap if I have a letter saying so? Poor mommy will have to pretend to have serious mental problems. Hmmm. Pretend? But she will do this for me if it helps.

    Thanks for any thoughts or ideas and wish me luck. Best Regards, Sabe, Santa fe NM November 2017

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