Air travel with Fido

Dear Dr John,

In a few weeks, our family plans to visit the grandparents in Florida, and we hope to bring our little dog. We haven’t flown with our dog in a while. She is a small mixed breed and we are curious if she can fly in the cabin with us. If you could shed any light on this topic, we would be very grateful. Thanks. FL

Dear FL,

My family often flies to Florida with our small dog. From some basic research, domestic airlines that fly to Florida and allow dogs in the cabin include American, Delta, JetBlue and United. There may be others. Contact the airline for all questions about traveling with a dog.

Carrying a dog in the cabin avoids the need for a temperature certificate, as they will not be in luggage or holding areas. They should have documentation of the rabies vaccine in case they ask for it. All of these airlines have dog size restrictions, and most require under 20 pounds, but I find that dogs under 10 pounds fit more comfortably. These small dogs need to be in small carriers that fit under the seat in front of your legs, and I find that foldable soft dog carriers are more manageable and forgiving. Mostly, it sometimes depends on the flight attendants and you may not be able to take the dog out of the carrier and sit on your lap.

All airlines charge extra for a pet to travel with you, and it can add up to a substantial $125 one-way charge. There are often limits on how many dogs can be in a plane’s cabin, so make reservations in advance. As for sedation, I would talk to your vet about options depending on your dog’s personality and level of anxiety. For these short flights, the dog doesn’t need a water bowl and it can leak if it’s in the carrier. Most airports have dog relief areas and most domestic flights require you to keep your dog on board. Walk the dog on arrival at the airport and back to your destination. I wish you all safe travels.

Dr. John de Jong owns and operates Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.

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