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5 Most Common Dog Travel Myths

5 Most Common Dog Travel Myths

As a dog lover, you naturally want your dog to be wherever you are. There are so many misconceptions surrounding traveling with a pet that many find it confusing and avoid it altogether. Today, I hope to dispel some myths so you can enjoy traveling with your furry companion! Let’s look at five dog travel myths and how to travel safely with your furbaby. 

Table of Contents

Myth #1: You Can't Travel with a Dog

Businesses are becoming more accommodating to dogs making travel with a dog entirely possible. All across the globe, you can find dog-friendly options for travel, dining, accommodations, entertainment, etc.

Many activities are also becoming dog-friendly. From beaches, boat rentals, paddle boarding, and even some movie theaters, you can now do just about everything with your pup! Always do your research in advance before booking travel accommodations to find out if dogs are allowed.

Service Animals are generally allowed anywhere that you are. That includes accommodations and flights. There is one caveat to this rule. All airlines restrict how many animals can fly in cabin on each flight. Most airlines require that you call after booking your flight to add your pet to the flight log. Before booking, check your airline’s rules and contact them immediately about adding your pet to your flight. You an also find a complete airport travel guide right here!

If you want to travel with your Emotional Support Animal (ESA), the rules that pertain to pets will also apply to your ESA. You will have to pay pet fees for bringing your cuddly companion. Airlines are no longer required to accommodate your ESA unless they are trained appropriately and can serve as a Psychiatric Service Animal. 

5 Most Common Dog Travel Myths

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Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.

Myth #2: Snub Nose Dogs Cannot Fly on an Airplane

Many airlines have banned brachycephalic breeds of dogs and cats from flying in cargo holds. This ban applies to flat-nosed or short-nosed animals such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih-Tzus, and Persian cats. Some airlines have taken this position because, for these breeds, the anatomy of their nose and airway can make it harder for them to breathe; this condition is known as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. These breeds are also more susceptible to temperature changes and heat stroke, making travel riskier.

Snub nose or brachycephalic dogs can fly with certain airlines as long as it is safe for the dog. Some European airlines may ask you to sign a disclaimer if you travel internationally. Additionally, a few airlines operate with summer restrictions (due to the heat) that may further limit your options.

This does not mean that flat-nosed pets can’t fly safely, but planning to travel with them will require extra time and attention. If you can plan your travel well in advance, it will help you avoid possible roadblocks and find alternate routes or airlines.

Since they require special care when it comes to air travel, consult your veterinarian to ensure your dog will be safe to fly. It’s always best to make an appointment with your vet to get the all-clear to fly before solidifying your travel plans. 

5 Most Common Dog Travel Myths

Myth #3: Flying with a Dog in Cargo is Unsafe

Your pet can typically fly on a plane with you as “accompanied baggage in-cabin or as cargo. You must pay an additional fee to travel with your pet. The biggest question surrounding air travel is whether it is safe to travel with your beloved dog on a plane. The short answer is yes, but there are many factors to consider.

Most pets can travel safely by plane. They may even enjoy it and sleep the entire flight where you’d hardly know they are there. Some dogs have a more challenging time with this than others. Each animal is different, and you should consider your dog’s temperament, health, and how well it adjusts to environmental changes before planning to travel with your dog via airplane.

Even the most pet-friendly airline has restrictions regarding traveling with animals and what is allowed. Most airlines will only fly small dogs (that can fit in a carrier under the seat) in the cabin. Dogs over 18 pounds are typically required to travel in the cargo hold of a plane. Even then, certain airlines have restrictions on breeds that are allowed aboard the aircraft or in cargo.

There are many opinions when it comes to flying with a pet. Some experts support it, and others do not. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) discourages flying with large dogs in cargo. They advise, “Unless your furry friend is small enough to ride under your seat, it’s best to avoid air travel with your pets,” even on a dog-friendly airline.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) doesn’t outright discourage pets from traveling via the cargo compartment. They do, however, strongly discourage tranquilizing pets for travel. Things can go south when using sedatives without being able to supervise an animal. 

5 Most Common Dog Travel Myths

Now for the real MYTH BUSTER for airline travel with pets.

This biggest misconception around airline travel regards sending pets via the cargo hold. Most people think that the cargo compartment is not pressurized or temperature controlled, making it unsafe for pets to travel in this manner. That’s not true!

The conditions in the pet cargo area of a plane are very similar to that in the cabin. Animals traveling in the cargo area of an aircraft are kept in a part of the plane that is lit, pressurized, and temperature-controlled.

It may surprise you to learn that the wait on the tarmac is the part that is often the most stressful on pets. Most escapes, injuries, or deaths with pets in transit occur while on the ground during the loading or unloading process.

The lack of climate control while waiting to load or unload a plane is why many airlines have restrictions on pets flying in cargo during hot or cold seasons. Some airlines now utilize climate-controlled holding areas where pets stay until they board. Before booking your pet a ticket in the cargo hold, you should ask about the airline’s procedures for pets while they are waiting to load or unload the plane.

5 Most Common Dog Travel Myths

Myth #4: Dogs Have to Quarantine When Traveling

A big concern that many people have with international traveling is that animals may have to stay in quarantine for a period upon arrival at their destination. The requirement to quarantine your pet upon arrival can be stressful for you and your dog and can put a damper on your travel plans. The good news is that the vast majority of countries do not require dogs to quarantine upon entry. Many popular travel destinations don’t require pets to quarantine, including the United States (except for Hawaii and the territory of Guam), Canada, Mexico, and most of Europe. 

Countries requiring a dog to be quarantined do so mainly to safeguard against rabies. Fortunately, this is becoming less and less of a problem with increased vaccinations, microchips, pet passports (EU), and mandatory rabies vaccinations (in some states). Hopefully, these precautions will help reduce cases of rabies and continue to make traveling easier.

The locations most often requiring pet quarantine are Australia, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore. Some exceptions may allow you to skip quarantine in these countries. Be sure to research pet travel rules for your destination carefully. The rules for traveling internationally with a dog are usually simple. Typically, it will only require that your dog has a microchip, pet passport, and valid rabies vaccination. A pet’s vaccination and health certificates are called a “pet passport.” Some destinations may also require that your pet has been administered a worming treatment by a veterinarian.

5 Most Common Dog Travel Myths

Myth #5: There is No Universal 'Airline Approved Dog Carrier'

Each airline has different dimensions for approved dog carriers that they will allow. There is no industry standard approved carrier. You should always check with your airline regarding their specific measurements. However, they do tend to be pretty similar. The best option for you would be to get a semi-soft case with an expandable feature. It is equivalent to traveling with a duffel bag because you can always squeeze under the seat to meet the guidelines for the various airlines you may fly. 

Bon Voyage!

Dog lovers worldwide can relate to the desire to give their dogs the best life possible. Traveling with a dog may take more work in the research and planning stages, but it is possible! You are guaranteed to make some of the best core memories of your life as you travel with your furry friend.

There are more myths about traveling with dogs than we can cover here, but these are the most common. Hopefully, this has shed light on some of the common myths you have heard regarding traveling with your dog and inspired you to wander. Happy trails to you, wherever your travels may take you!

ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!


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