Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.

Flying with Your Dog to America – What You Need to Know

Rachel Poli Author
May 6 ·
flying with your dog to america

If you’ve adopted a dog out of your country, or you’re simply going on an extended vacation and want to take your furry friend along, you can certainly do so. However, a lot of research and work goes into bringing your dog on an airplane and flying into a new country. So, here’s what you need to know when it comes to flying with your dog to America.

First, Talk to Your Dog’s Veterinarian

There are a lot of requirements and research that need to be done to bring your pup on an airplane.

However, before you look into all that, you want to bring your dog to a vet. The vet will help you decide if flying is the right option for your dog.

If your dog is healthy enough, then your vet can ensure they’re up to date on their vaccinations so that they meet the airline and United States requirements.

First, call your vet and tell them that you and your dog will be traveling internationally. Every county and airline has different requirements to bring a dog on board. So, together, you and your vet can ensure your dog is well prepared.

For example, your dog may need the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Health certificates
  • Microchips (for identification)
  • Permits
  • Vaccinations

Remember, some of these requirements may change from time to time.

High-Risk Diseases

For instance, in 2021, the CDC in the United States halted all dogs from entering the United States due to an increase of rabies being found in foreign dogs. Since then, dogs are now allowed back into the United States as long as they have proper vaccinations to combat such diseases.

Other diseases require special permission as well.

For example, if a dog comes from a country where screwworm exists, the dog needs a veterinarian to clear them of this disease to ensure they’re healthy.

If the dog has screwworm, they need to quarantine and ensure they’re 100% healthy before coming to the United States.

Foot and Mouth disease and tapeworm are also illnesses that require a vet check.

Requirements May Differ Between Airlines and States

After you bring your doggo to the vet and they’re up to date with their vaccinations and are healthy enough to travel, double-check where you’re going and how to get there.

For instance, each state in the United States has different requirements for foreign dogs to enter.

In addition, every airline has different requirements.

Keeping Your Dog in the Cabin or the Cargo Hold

There is no right or wrong way for your pet to travel. For example, you can decide how you want your dog to fly. Alternatively, the airline might tell you the dog needs to go in the cargo hold, depending on its size.

For example, if you have a small dog, some airlines will allow you to have the pup in the cabin. However, they must be in an airplane-safe carrier, and you are responsible for the dog’s care during the flight.

However, if the dog is a medium or large breed, it might have to go into the cargo hold. This is mostly because the dog won’t fit in the cabin with you and the other passengers.

On the other hand, according to the International Air Transport Association, dogs may travel better in the cargo hold. This area is well-ventilated, dark, and quiet. So, it may be less stressful for your dog.

Regardless of how your dog travels on the plane, you are 100% responsible for your dog during the flight. If you have a layover or a connecting flight, you’ll need to care for your dog.

This includes bringing them out to go the bathroom, stretch their legs, or have a water break. Then, you need to get them back into their carrier and onboard in time for the next flight.

Finally, your dog may travel in the cargo hold on a separate flight that only flies cargo. If this is the case, then you’ll need to discuss food and water with your veterinarian, depending on how long the flight is. Your dog won’t be able to eat or drink during the flight.

Also, you’ll need to arrange a time to drop off and pick up your dog once the airplanes land at the final destination. 

Keep in mind that most airlines do not allow pets to travel by flight between May and September.

Since these are considered the hottest months of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, it may not be safe for the dog to travel. They could overheat and either get sick or possibly die.

Make Sure Your Dog is Comfortable

No matter where your dog travels on the airplane, you want to make sure they’re mentally prepared for the flight.

It’s one thing to ensure they meet all the requirements to board the airplane and get into the United States. However, it’s entirely another situation to ensure your dog is mentally (and physically) prepared for flight.

Flying on an airplane is scary for most humans, let alone dogs who don’t understand what a plane is, how it works, or where they’re going.

For instance, they may feel safer and more comfortable in the cargo hold, but if your dog has separation anxiety or is afraid to try new things, the dark cargo hold (and being away from you) may stress them out further.

So, here are some tips to help prepare your dog to fly:

  • Purchase plane tickets that have as few layovers and connections as possible
  • Choose arrival times to avoid extreme heat or cold
  • Train your dog to be in the carier
  • Discuss any anxiety needs with your vet beforehand
  • If your dog goes into the cabin, check-in as late as possible
  • If your dog goes into the cargo hold, check-in as early as possible
  • Walk your dog before your flight and immediately after arrival
  • Avoid food and drink a few hours before the flight

These tips will help reduce stress for your dog, and they’ll also keep them as healthy as possible.

For example, avoiding the heat or cold during your arrival time will ensure your pet is comfortable. If you’re arriving in a hot area, book a later flight so you arrive at night when it’s cooler.

On the other hand, if your dog has anxiety, discuss what you can do with your vet. For example, sedatives are not a good idea to use because they could harm your dog while flying. So, go over some other options to keep your pup from getting stressed.

Overall, you want to aim to keep the flight as safe and positive as possible for your pup. First, however, you need to keep up with the country and state you’re entering and the airline’s requirements.

If You’re Afraid to Fly with Your Dog

On the other hand, there are other options. For example, flying with your dog may be unsettling, especially if you haven’t flown with your dog before.

Luckily, flying isn’t the only option. You can bring your dog on a cruise ship or travel by sea to the United States. These ships, of course, have their own set of rules and requirements that you’ll need to look into.

However, it’s nice to have another option if flying happens to be out of the question.

Should You Fly Your Dog to America?

Depending on your needs and the dog’s needs, then yes. If your pup meets all the requirements and is healthy, they can undoubtedly fly to America, no problem.

Rachel Poli Author
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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