How To Fly Abroad With A Dog (15-Step Travel Guide)

We spent 2 weeks researching and writing this article, all to discover that flying abroad with a dog is one heck of a task. 

At least it is when you don’t have a step-by-step guide!

This guide will provide you with a complete walkthrough on how to travel abroad with a dog from start to finish.

dog with airline tickets in mouth

We aim to provide you with the expected costs, professional contacts, a list of supplies, and forms to complete.

A table containing the requirements, regulations, and contact details for airlines, hotels, and regulators can be referred to below.

Here’s a snapshot of what to expect: 

  • All required documents needed to travel with a pet 
  • Costs involved in the international pet travel 
  • Professionals that you’ll need to get in touch with 
  • Pet supplies that you will need  
  • How to prepare your dog for spending hours in a crate 
  • Airline restrictions and regulations 
  • A step by step guide and checklist for traveling abroad with your pet 

Pro Tip: Remember, it’s your responsibility as an owner to research the specific requirements for pet travel in the destination country. Failure to do so can result in your pet being refused entry on arrival. 

cute girl packing for a trip

What do you need to do Before You set out To travel? 

Once you have researched the requirements of the destination country, it’s then time to contact a local vet to find out if your dog is fit for travel.

A vet will typically take a look at the forecasted temperatures to gauge whether the conditions will be safe enough for a dog.

This will also be the perfect time to check if your pet is permitted or exempt from airline requirements.

Below is a list of breeds that are commonly not permitted to travel by airplane (i.e. breeds that have difficulty with breathing):

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer (all breeds)
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog (all breeds)
  • Cane Corso
  • Chow Chow
  • Dogue De Bordeaux
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff (all breeds)
  • Pekingese
  • Pit Bull
  • Presa Canario
  • Pug (all breeds)
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel

Jump to The Guide >> 15 Steps to book then fly abroad with a dog

What are the common requirements set by airlines and foreign countries?

Most airlines and foreign countries require: 

  • Proof of a rabies vaccination certificate 
  • Proof of a microchip
  • Veterinarian Rabies Inoculation Certificate
  • Export health certificate 
  • A digital photo of your pet to help with identifying the breed 
  • A signed and completed Customer Acknowledgement Form
  • Your pet is contained in an airline compliant pet carrier (more on specifications later) 
  • Your dog to be of the required age (most airlines accept dogs over 8 weeks)

What information do you need to research and take notes of?

To begin, you’ll need to find out if the destination country will require you and your pet to quarantine for any given period of time. 

The average cost for quarantining is around $150 multiplied by the number of days you isolate (likely 7 to 10 days). Although, this has recently been lifted in many countries. 

Make sure your dog is up to date with all vaccinations, especially rabies, as it’s mandatory for entering the majority of countries.

Take the time to research pet compliant taxi services, pet-friendly rental cars (if you plan on renting), and whether pets can stay in your hotel or Air Bnb. 

My go-to option is always an Air BnB as it’s much easier to find a pet-friendly home over general hotels. 

Find out if the airports you are traveling to have pet relief points and if so where they are located. Make notes on where you’ll be seated too!

Skip to Straight To Guide >> How to Fly abroad with Your dog (Step By Step)

Pro Tip: Pay for the extra legroom to fly with your dog and thank yourself later. Some international flights have smaller legroom areas that don’t even allow for the average airline-approved pet carrier to fit halfway under the seat. 

Save yourself the hassle and just pay for the extra room if possible. 

What is a Customer Acknowledgement Form?

A customer acknowledgment form is a document that airlines use to ensure you are fully aware of the risks involved with traveling by plane with your pet. 

You sign to agree that you have read and understood the requirements of the airline and taken the right steps to ensure you have all documents and checks completed at the time of departure. 

You will also be required to sign and accept that the airline is not responsible for any loss of expense to you and that you agree for the crew to transport your pet to a clinic in the event of an emergency. 

Passport, dollars, plane, and air ticket on a blue background. Travel concept, copy space.

How much does it cost to travel Abroad with a dog? 

For service dogs, there is no charge for flying. But you will most certainly have to pay for regular pet travels that range from $50 to $1000 across airlines. 

Hotels can charge a one-off or per night pet fee of anywhere between $5 to $200 per stay. Some are calculated by day while others charge a one-time cleaning fee per stay.

Cost Per Pet flight (In-cabin / Cargo Hold)

We created this table to provide you a birds-eye view of the general costs that most major airlines are charging for in-cabin and Cargo hold pet travel.

Please note: If there are any airlines that we have missed then feel free to reach out to us via our contact page and we’ll be sure to add them in.

AirlineService Charge (each way)Flight Cargo Average Rate (each way)Reservations (contact number)Rates Calculator
Alaska$100$1851 (800) 252-7522Click here
Allegiant$50Cargo not permitted1 (702) 505-8888N/A
American Airlines$1251-25 lbs. = $290.00
26-50 lbs. = $365.00
51-70 lbs. = $460.00
71-100 lbs. = $580.00
1 (800) 433-7300Click here
Delta$125$1501 (800) 221-1212Click here
Frontier$99Cargo not permitted1 (800) 401-9000N/A
JetBlue$125Cargo not permitted1 (800) 538-2583N/A
Southwest$95Cargo not permitted1 (800) 435-9792N/A
Spirit$110Cargo not permitted1 (855) 728-3555N/A
United$125$5001 (800) 864-8331Click here
Average Cost$106
The data contained in this table has been collected directly from the associated Airlines and based on averages. You will still need to check the exact prices for your specific travels.

How much do hotels charge for a pet to stay overnight?

Finding pet-friendly hotels can be difficult and will usually come at an additional cost.

Some hotels charge one time for a cleaner to come in after you leave while others require a daily charge that is non-refundable. 

I looked up a few of the most popular hotels from cost-efficient to high end to help you determine the cost you will pay. 

Hotel Rates for pets

Hotel Cost Frequency Type of chargeTermsTax
Marriott$5One timenon-refundable+ one-time cleaning fee of $50 per stay
Hilton$50One timenon-refundable
Hotel Ritz Paris$55Per nightnon-refundable
Hotel Emma$200One timenon-refundableService pets onlyAdditional cost for Tax Required
Claridge’s London$130One timenon-refundable
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts$75Per nightnon-refundableVaries depending on venueAdditional cost for Tax Required
Holiday inn$10Per nightnon-refundableNot all Holiday Inns welcome pets
Hampton inn$50One timenon-refundablePet weight limits range from 25 lbs. – over 100 lbs (not all venues accept pets)
Hyatt$100One timenon-refundable100% of Fee is donated to PAWS animal shelter
Bets western$30Per nightnon-refundableMaximum size of 80 lbs
Ritz Carlton$175Per nightnon-refundable10 and 30 lbs weight limit
Four Seasons$75One timenon-refundableMax of 2 pets per stayAdditional cost for Tax Required
Viceroy Chicago$50Per nightnon-refundableMax of 2 pets per stay weighing up to 50lbs up to 25lbs each
Inn of the Five Graces$75Per nightnon-refundableMax of 2 pets per stay weighing up to 50lbs each
The Georges$75Per nightnon-refundable
The Peninsula Beverly Hills$35Per nightnon-refundableAll pets are welcome and are offered dog walks by the hotel
The Langham$100One timenon-refundableDogs less than 20lbs are allowed
Windsor Court Hotel$150One timenon-refundableUp to 2 pets with a max weight of 40 lbs
Crossroads Hotel$40One timenon-refundableDogs only allowed
Hotel Bel-Air$35Per nightnon-refundableany size welcome
Average Cost$76
This data has been collected from the official website for each hotel and compiled into a table to present the information in a more digestible format

Microchip cost  

Microchips are tiny radio frequency identification tags (RFID) that are permanently implanted beneath a dog’s skin through injection.

As they do not have a power source, you cannot use a GPS or anything of the sort to find a lost dog. 

Instead, they are used to help with discovering a dog’s identity in the event of being lost and then found by another person. 

You can expect to pay around $25 to $60 for this procedure which is absolutely necessary for most major airlines. 

Some destinations will also require your dog to be checked over by an official vet upon arrival which will cost around $60. 

Vet Checks 

You will be required to get a Veterinary health certificate at least 30 days before travel along with a Veterinarian Rabies Inoculation Certificate that will cost around $50 each. 

Not all countries will require both, but it’s best to get them both done to avoid any bottlenecks on your travels.

It’s important to note that one certificate does not cover you for all countries and you’ll be required to meet the standard of the specific country you plan to travel to.

Many country-specific requirements can be found on the USDA Country acceptance list here. 

Side note: We contacted a local vet to calculate the average costs involved with international pet travel. Check out the table below!

Other health-related Costs for Pet Travel

NameFee (Average Cost)Vet RequiredValid ForNotes
Veterinary Health Certificate (AHC)$80Yes10 – 30 daysAdditional cost for consultation may be required $100 average
Export Health Certificate (EHC)Yes10 – 30 daysWould be used in replacement of AHC when necessary
Veterinarian Rabies Vaccination Certificate + blood test$45Yes3 years
Microchip$50YesLifetime of pet
Vet Checks At Destination Airport$50Yes
Pet Insurance$45No1 month
Pet Quarantine Abroad$150No1 month
Total Average Cost$420

Pet Travel insurance 

The big debate is whether you need pet insurance to travel…

The cost of insurance heavily depends on a dog’s age, breed, where you live, and the type of coverage you need. 

According to Valuepenguin, the average cost per month for pet insurance is $45 for accident and illness coverage while accident coverage alone averages $18 for dogs. 

I am yet to find a pet insurance company that offers short-term coverage specifically for traveling, so be sure to check that international travel is included when taking out a new policy.

While you are not required to take out pet insurance for pet travel but it can certainly save you a lot in veterinarian costs if something goes wrong.

However, if you plan to travel with a senior dog, then you’ll probably want to take out a policy for peace of mind. 

Can you take large pets in-cabin as Emotional support animals (ESA’s)?

The short answer is no. The long answer is…

In 2008 the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) made changes to allow ESA’s (Emotional support animals) to travel more frequently to calm passengers that suffer anxiety. 

But when airlines pushed for higher fees in 2009, customers discovered that booking a pet as an ESA would allow their pets to travel free of charge. Thus reducing the cost of a flight. 

According to Delta Airlines, ESA’s were responsible for an 85% increase in on-flight incidents from 2016 to 2019. This includes incidents involving bites, urination, and defecation.

Following the above, on January 11, 2021, Delta updated its policies to no longer accept ESAs on board along with American Airlines and United to follow.  

The Department of Transportation announced its final rule on Wednesday, December 2, 2020, that all ESA’s will no longer be considered ‘service dogs on’ airlines. 

Can service dogs travel in-cabin? 

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) a service animal refers to a service dog only. I’m still unsure as to why it wasn’t just named that in the first place. 

This refers to a dog that has been specifically trained to help an individual with a qualified disability. Meaning, that your disability is permanent and not short-term or temporary. 

I’ll avoid sharing my opinion on the problems I have with this, however…

Service dogs for the most part can travel in-cabin and generally have no weight or size limit but are required to be secured with a harness during take-off and landing.

This rule will also apply at any time the seatbelt signs are on. 

But, even a qualifying service dog can be refused by the airline for being too big, or too heavy to be accommodated in-cabin poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others or has caused a disruption when boarding. 


What are the important things to be aware of when traveling abroad with a dog? 

The majority of major airlines require a dog and pet carrier to a total max weight of 20lbs. This allows your dog to board the flight with you in-cabin and remain in the carrier placed underneath the seat In front of you (i.e. leg area). 

The general maximum sizing for a pet carrier is 17.5 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 7.5 inches high. 

Dogs that are over 30lbs or larger will be required to fly Cargo and will board the flight at the time of checking in luggage. 

How and where do you buy the tickets for a dog to fly abroad? 

Some airlines provide the option for adding in pets on your travels via the ‘advanced search option on the website. 

However, with all the nuance of booking a pet for flying, I would certainly recommend you do this over the phone at least 7 days before flying. 

The next section will cover various airlines’ terms of acceptance to give you a snapshot of whether your pet can or cannot travel in-cabin or cargo hold.

In the event that you go ahead and book online, then you’ll need to contact reservations at least 48 hours before flying to add your pet to the booking.

That said, I would recommend you do this at the earliest convenient time after booking your own flight as planes generally have a max capacity for the number of pets to be carried per flight. 

I found most have an average maximum of 6 pets (2 per customer max) per flight, so the earlier you book, the better. 

How do you check in with a dog?

It’s probably a good idea to contact the airline before leaving to find out exactly what is required and avoid being turned away. 

Give yourself enough time to get to the airport, go through security, and check-in luggage and pets. 

It’s likely you’ll take a lot longer than usual and more time will allow you to make any emergency calls or changes where needed. 

Checking in with Your Carry on Pet

When you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to head to the special service counter to check in with your pet. 

Most airlines will have agents that specifically deal with this type of booking and will check that your pet and carrier/kennel meet all the necessary requirements. 

The agent will then collect the fee and place a cabin tag on the kennel, so you can head over to the security checkpoint. 

Checking in Your pet for a Cargo Hold flight

Most airlines require you to check-in around 3 hours before a pet’s flight, and no more than 4 hours ahead of time.

You can contact reservations around 48 hours prior to flying to ensure all of your documentation in travel arrangements are correct. This includes adding your pet to the booking too.

You’ll need a pet health certificate that is provided to you by a professional veterinarian that says your pet is healthy enough to travel. 

In case of delays, it’s best practice to tape a 1-gallon bag of dog food to the top of the carrier along with instructions on how to feed your pet. 

At the drop-off point, the airline agent will perform a visual check, a weight check, and review all documents to make sure your pet is ready to fly. 

I recommend having a pet health certificate that’s dated within the last 10 days before traveling, as while some airlines allow longer time periods, this will ensure you meet all criteria for all airlines and destinations.

Check out our tale containing links to all the relevant pet airline policies here.

Your dog should be able to stand down, turn around, and lie down in the carrier. Soft-sided carriers should be made of padded nylon, be mesh ventilated on two or more sides, and be water repellent. 

The pet crate you travel with must meet all the IATA requirements for pets traveling in cages and containers. 

It essentially covers that the carrier must be well ventilated (usually 3 sides or more), be sturdy, spring locked, have disabled wheels, a waterproof bottom, and no handles (except on smaller crates). 

The kennel must be leak-proof, escape-proof, and secured with no doors on top. You can place blankets, towels, and beds on the bottom (no more than 3inches thick) but not allowed straw, hay, or wood shavings. 

What Type of kennel is suitable for Cargo hold international travel?

Here’s an image of the general type of crate to consider using for traveling with a pet: 

wire cage and plastic crate

The best crate I’ve found for a pet traveling in the Cargo hold is this one.  

Pro Tip: You can also cable tie any doors shut on the pet carrier for added protection, but be sure to check with your airline before doing this. 

Bonus Tip: You can buy a Pet crate bowl and then freeze the water for dripless hydration throughout the duration of the flight (if using a bowl).

How do you measure your dog for a pet carrier? 

To measure your dog for a pet carrier, you’ll need to measure::

  1. From the base of the nose to the tip of the tail 
  2. From elbow to the ground 
  3. From the width of your pet at their widest point (usually front legs) 
  4. From the top of their head to the ground 

Once you have your measurements, it’s time to check out the pet carrier requirements for the airline you’ll be traveling with. 

International airline pet policies for in-cabin and Cargo hold travel

Luckily, for you, we have listed some of the most common airline pet carrier requirements listed in the table below. 

AirlineMax Size (in-cabin/carry on)Max Weight (in cabin) – combined pet and kennelMax Size (Cargo hold)Max Weight (Cargo hold) – Combined pet and kennelAge requirement (international)Max number of pets per personNumber of Total pets per flightPet Policy Page
Alaska30″ x 27″ x 40″20 lbs.30″ x 27″ x 40″150 lbs8 weeks2 Per container (1 carrier limit)6
Allegiant9” x 16” x 19”noneCargo not permittedCargo not permitted8 weeks2 Per containernot stated
American Airlines19″ x 13″ x 9″20 lbs.90″ (Max width & height)100 lbs.8 weeks17
Delta18” x 11” x 11”20 lbs.40″ x 27″ x 30″100 lbs. (check with airline for up to date)15 weeks (10 weeks domestic)2 Per container (1 carrier limit)4
Frontier18″ x 14″ x 8″noneCargo not permittedCargo not permitted8 weeks110
JetBlue17″ x 12.5″ x 8.5″20 lbs.Cargo not permittedCargo not permitted8 weeks16
Southwest18.5” x 8.5” x 13.5”20 lbs. per petCargo not permittedCargo not permitted8 weeks16
Spirit9″ x18″ x 14″40 lbs. totalCargo not permittedCargo not permitted8 weeks2 Per container4
United18” x 11” x 11”20 lbs.34″ Max heightNo weight restriction16 weeks14

Supplies That You’ll Need 

What should you do during the flight?

Click here to jump straight to our step-by-step travel guide, or keep reading to learn how to aid your dog during the flight.

If your dog has to fly cargo you should keep in mind that they can be refused if climates become too cold or too hot, and remains effective throughout the entire trip (i.e. origination, layover, or destination). 

During the flight, you’ll want to give your pet a treat or healthy snack (i.e. carrots) to help with popping their ears during ascending and deciding flight. 

Ensure potty pads are fitted along with a plastic zipper bag on standby to clean up any heavy accidents (if you know what I mean). 

If there’s an emergency, then unfortunately there will not be oxygen offered to your dog. But when in cargo pets are placed into a pressurized temperature-controlled environment that will ensure they can easily breathe up to 10,000 feet high. 

The reason being is that when an emergency arises, the pilot will descend to 10,000ft to allow passengers and livestock to breathe more effectively. 

In some cases, your pup will fall asleep for some or all of the flight providing you gave them enough exercise beforehand. This is totally fine but remember to keep them hydrated with at least water feeding every 4 hours.

Image of funny spaniel dog in pilot helmet

How To Book & Fly Abroad With A Dog (15 Step Guide)

I’ve put together a step-by-step guide that will walk you through booking tickets, adding pets to bookings, preparing documents, and boarding your flight.

Below is a quick list of the steps that are hyperlinked so you can jump to relevant sections where needed.

  1. Check airline requirements for traveling with your dog (i.e. health and pet carrier) 
  2. Check destination requirements
  3. Purchase your dog’s tickets at the same time you buy your own 
  4. Buy your supplies and begin packing
  5. Prepare all TSA compliant travel documents 
  6. Research the locations for pet relief along your travels 
  7. Prepare your dog for staying in the carrier 
  8. Exercise your dog on the day of travel before the flight 
  9. Leave early and arrive at least 3 hours before take-off 
  10. Pay at the counter for your dog and check-in 
  11. Go through security 
  12. Find the pet relief area
  13. Boarding the flight (get on board early) 
  14. Arriving at your destination 
  15. Returning home

Step 1: Check airline requirements for traveling with your dog (i.e. health and pet carrier) 

Most airlines will use a reservations department where you can add pets and special requests to a booking. This can be done either online or over the phone, but due to the nuance of pet travel, it’s probably better to call in.

On the phone call to airline reservations you will be asked:

  • Where and when you would like to travel 
  • The breed, size, and age of your dog 

The agent will then brief you on all the airline requirements that need to be met in order to travel with a pet.

Next, it’s time to find out what hotels and taxis will cater to pets in the destination country.

Step 2: Check destination requirements

Now is a good time to research the requirements venue in your destination country.

Airbnb is great for finding pet-friendly homes and also much cheaper for what you get compared to hotels. 

Yes, I’m a little biased, as I use them all the time! 

If possible, you’ll also want to contact the relevant car rental companies and airport taxi companies to find out who will accommodate your travels. 

Step 3: Purchase your dog’s tickets at the same time you buy your own 

Tickets can be purchased via the airline website, over the phone, or through a travel agent. 

Notify the airline that you’ll be traveling with a pet at least 7 days before the date of flight. But with the average plane being able to carry 6 pets at a time, it’s probably best to get your pet booked in at the time you purchase your own tickets.

Some airlines refer to this as registering your dog or making a booking for a pet. 

Print off or request any documents that are needed, then make notes on who you’ll need to get in touch with (i.e. a vet or physician). 

Once you have registered your dog for traveling, it’s time to begin buying your travel supplies. 

Step 4: Buy your supplies and begin packing

Whip out the credit card and get to buying…

With all the recent changes to airlines and foreign country policies, more pet supplies than anticipated may be required.

If you followed the supplies section above, you should have a general idea of the most important items to bring along. My general rule of thumb is to “never forget your pet, your documents, and your clothes”. 

Anything after that can probably be replaced along the way (at a cost of course). 

The most important supplies to buy include:

  • An airline approved pet carrier (with bedding) 
  • Leash and harness 
  • Pee pads 
  • Dog Diapers 
  • Dog treats 
  • Crate friendly food bowls 

Step 5: Prepare all TSA compliant travel documents 

All airlines have a different way of dealing with documents. 

Some require you to check in on the day with all documentation while others require you to fill out the provided PDF forms that will need to be completed by a qualified vet, yourself, and a physician if traveling with an ESA. 

The form can then be submitted via the associated airline online portal, but I also recommend taking printed copies to the airport when you drop off your pet. 

Pro Tip: Keep all your docs in digital and physical form to prevent delays in your travels 

As you many travelers have reported airlines not being aware of the submitted documents or that the customer was traveling with an ESA when arriving at the airport. 

The most common documents you can expect to be required include: 

Certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) 

Livestock moving interstate or internationally are required to travel on a certificate of veterinary inspection (i.e. a health certificate). 

This is a document issued by a veterinarian to ensure that all animals transported are healthy. 

Customer Acknowledgement Form

A customer acknowledgment form is a signed document that proves you are fully aware of the terms, legal obligations, and responsibilities required of you to travel with a pet on the chosen airline. 

It usually contains the legal jargon, your flight details, the date, and a signature box. 

Recently, I’ve found many of these forms to factor in COVID requirements such as PCR test results, health declarations, or vaccination documentation too. 

Proof of Rabies Vaccination

If you’re traveling from or to the UK, then your pet will also need a rabies vaccination certificate. 

Dogs must be at least 12 weeks old before the rabies shot which must also be taken at least 21 days before travel. 

The rabies vaccination will last a dog from 1 to 3 years and must be given in a 3 part dose. 

The first shot will be on day 1, the second shot on day 7 and the last shot will be on day 21, which explains why you can’t travel before the 21 day period of the first jab. 

Export And Animal Health Certificates (EHC’s & AHC’s) – For UK pet travel

The difference between an export health certificate and an animal health certificate is that one serves the purpose of you traveling within 5 days of shipping your pet while the other serves for those traveling beyond 5 days of shipping their pet. 

Both of these forms are used to confirm that your pet meets the health standards of the destination country. 

Once you are done and have all your docs signed and ready, it’s time to start preparing for the day of travel. 

Step 6: Research the locations for pet relief along your travels 

Some airports will not have relief points, so it’s best to research ahead of time in order to plan for alternatives where possible.

This can easily be done with a Google search as a large majority of forums and blogs share accurate information on traveling through specific airports. 

If however, you are unsure, then head back to the airline’s customer services to speak to an agent that will provide more in-depth information. 

Step 7: Prepare your dog for staying in the carrier 

For you smart owners that already have a crate-trained dog (great job). But for the rest of you… It’s time to get fido trained. 

Place some of your dog’s favorite treats in the carrier and let them gnaw on for 15 minutes to 1 hour around 3 times per week is a great place to start. 

Practice doing this with their head section free and the carrier also being completely zipped up and carried for short periods too. 

This will help your dog to get used to being in the carrier for long periods of time and highlight areas where may training will be needed. As many dogs will bark or try to escape during practice drills.

Note: You should not leave your dog any longer than 4 hours in a crate unless overnight. 

Ensure to thoroughly exercise your dog before crating them as it helps in reducing anxiety and relaxation. You can use toys to introduce your dog to the crate too as we are trying to make this like a bedroom chill-out type of space. 

Close the doors (which may take several attempts with an escape merchant). If you notice they want to come out, then reopen the door to let them know this is not a punishment. 

Repeat until they are comfortable relaxing in the crate and then add toys and treats to prevent boredom. 

This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to train a dog in a crate or pet carrier. So it’s best to start training as early as possible. 

Watch the video below for an in-depth step-by-step tutorial on crate training your dog. 

Step 8: Exercise your dog on the day of travel before the flight 

I would start exercise from the day before and then follow up with a morning outing before the flight (depending on what time you leave). 

A regular walk, run, or jog will do the job. This will particularly help if you have an energetic dog. It’s like they will spend the next 4 hours or more inside the crate, so it’s a good idea to tire them out. 

Calming oils and calming treats will also help during the flight and many others report walking their dogs on a leash through the airport to be helpful too.

This is not officially allowed, but I’m sure you can get away with it with a well-trained dog in most. 

Step 9: Leave early and arrive at least 3 hours before take-off 

I don’t know how it is for you! But I can certainly say in my own case that traveling abroad is one of the few things I can never seem to get right. 

The reason I recommend leaving 3 hours ahead is to give you enough time to deal with any unexpected changes, ensure your dog gets enough exercise and relief if needed. 

That said, it’s not recommended to arrive any earlier than 4 hours ahead of flight time. So keep it reasonable to avoid increasing congestion in the airport. 

Step 10: Pay at the counter for your dog and check-in 

If you have a well-behaved dog, then zip them up or keep them away from the area when approaching the counter. Airlines have the ability to turn you away if they assume that your dog does not correctly fit in the carrier due to size. 

When you arrive at the front counter at the airport, this is where you have your bags checked and your tickets printed. I would still recommend getting checked in at least 24 hours before your flight, but you can always do it 3 hours before too. 

Note: To add your pet to the booking requires you to contact reservations ahead of time. This can be done at least a week or two in advance and make everything so much easier on flight day. 

You can do this online using the “advanced search” tab on most airlines websites or you can do it over the phone. 

Step 11: Go through security 

I’m sure we can agree that going through security in an airport is the most stressful part of flying? No matter how much research you do, you truly never know what’s allowed and what isn’t or if you’ll have to leave particular items behind. 

Aside from that, it’s all pretty much the same with a dog but you’ll have to remove their collar and leash and put their carrier through the security scanner too. 

You can then carry your dog through the detector where you must then put them down and wait for your scanned items. 

Next, it’s time to take your dog for a Wizz or jazz! Or whatever you like to call it! You get the point! 

Step 12: Locate the pet relief area

If you’ve been following this guide, then you should have already researched all the pet relief points within every airport you will be traveling through. 

If however, you haven’t… Then start doing this now! Make notes on exactly where each of them is so you can easily find them on the day. I usually note down the nearby boarding gate as that’s usually where they’ll be. 

Make sure to bring poop bags and take your dog to the bathroom before entering the airport.

Some have relief areas while others don’t, so best to avoid heavy feeding on the day of travel. That’s if you’re trying to avoid unwanted accidents at least. 

Step 13: Boarding the flight (get on board early) 

Boarding early will ensure you get to the under-seating spaces before anyone else. This will only make sense if your dog is traveling ‘in-cabin’ so you can utilize the space in the best way possible. 

For pets booked for in-cabin travel, you’ll need to zip up the carrier all the way this time and keep out your flight tickets to show to the crew when boarding. 

Ask for help with the location of your seats as this will save time and try to place your dog under a middle seat if possible. 

On most airplanes, the under window seats are far too cramped to fit the carrier and the outer seats make it difficult for people walking through the aisle to get past. 

Note: Some airports do allow for your dog to be walked on a leash down the terminal, but be sure to check ahead of traveling. 

Pro Tip: Ask fr priority boarding when arriving at the terminal to access the plane with assistance via an unpopulated route. And as a bonus, you may be offered a priority seat near the front! 

Step 14: Arriving at your destination 

When arriving it’s probably a good time to allow your dog to walk a little and stretch their legs. A treat would be too as a reward for behaving for the duration of the flight. 

I’m not here to tell you how to spend your trip with your pet, but I can say that you’ll have a great time bonding with foreigners through your love for pets. 

It’s probably a good time to check out pet-friendly venues, and locations for dogs that offer a great experience for both of you. 

I did a little digging and the most trustworthy and reliable pet sitting service I could find that operates internationally is:  

When I researched pet sitters in Australia alone, the site populates around 3311 professionals. I’m sure you can find one that meets your requirements.

Check it out if you’re looking to have a few nights without your dog. 

Step 15: returning home 

When returning home it’s important to check the requirements of the country you’ll be returning to. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you are either in the US or UK. 

As an AHC lasts for 10 days, you will need to revisit an OV when abroad when returning to countries that require you to do so. 

To return back, follow the same steps as above and research any information you don’t have such as drop-off points for Cargo hold travel, pick-up points, relief points, and how and where to check-in. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all airlines allow you to fly with a dog? 

No, not all airlines permit traveling with pets. While the majority of airlines will allow you to travel with a dog in-cabin, not all accept pets for travel in the Cargo hold. 

That said, airlines such as Ryanair, EasyJet, AirAsia, Emirates (no cabin but maybe Cargo), Jetstar Airways, and South African Airways. 

Can you carry the pet carrier and allow your dog to walk on a leash in the airport? 

Yes and no. Airlines state that your pet should remain in the side of their carrier from the point of entering the airport to boarding the plane unless stopping off for relief or going through security.

That said, I always allow my dog to walk on a leash throughout the airport and have never had any issues with the dog so. So you can if your dog is well trained I would say. 

What’s the difference between in-cabin and cargo travel? 

In-cabin means ‘carry on’ where your pet can be on board with you in the seated area. Cargo on the other hand is where your luggage goes which consists of two parts (fwd and aft hold). 

What to do if your dog poops on a plane mid-flight? 

You should have already purchased poop bags and if you find your dog has pooped, then clear it up, bag it and dispose of it via the steward. 

It’s likely you’ll have to keep it for the duration of the flight in which case you’ll need a few zip bags that will contain the odor. 

This is of course if your dog is flying in-cabin, however, in cargo, there is sadly not much you can do until landing. 

Another way is to use dog diapers that work great for traveling over long periods of time. 

What are flight reservations? 

Flight reservations also known as dummy tickets are used by travel agents to reserve a seat and passenger name record (PNR) for purchase within a set time. 

This type of purchase is usually used by those needing to apply for a VISA when traveling to a foreign country. 

At what age can a dog travel internationally?

For the US and  Puerto Rico, a dog must be at least 8 weeks old to travel on most major airlines, however, some will require a dog is at 6 months or above. 

However, some countries require vaccinations such as rabies shots that cannot be carried out until a dog is of 12 weeks of age.  

Where to find airline pet policies?

You can find any airline pet policy by entering a simple query into Google search. Just tye “[insert airline here] pet policy” and you will see the relevant page from the airline showed up on the Google page results. 

However, here are links to pet policies of the most commonly searched large U.S. airlines:

How Frequently Can You Fly Abroad With A Dog? 

Once a pet has reached 8 weeks of age and has all the relevant documentation to prove they are fit and healthy for travel, then the world is your oyster. 


I’m sure we can agree that traveling abroad with a dog is certainly no walk in the park.

However, by following this guide you should be able to get a clear idea of exactly what to buy or research in order to have a safe and fun trip.

My best tips would be to always plan ahead of time, arrive early and have your documents in both printed and digital form. Try to get priority seating or pay for additional legroom where possible and most of all, enjoy your trip! 

If you have any questions or pointers that you’d like to share then feel free to leave a comment below. Until then, check out some more of our content below and download our checklist while you’re at it. 

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Leon Angus

Leon Angus is a London, UK-based blogger with a plan to improve the pet industry one post at a time. He is the senior editor at Dig Doggy and oversees every piece of content before publish to ensure the highest quality and most thorough research has been carried out.

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Picture of Leon Angus

Leon Angus

Leon Angus is a London, UK-based blogger with a plan to improve the pet industry one post at a time. He is the senior editor at Dig Doggy and oversees every piece of content before publish to ensure the highest quality and most thorough research has been carried out.

About Dig Doggy

DigDoggy® is a free resource for dog owners, with everything from expert product reviews to trusted pet care advice.

All of our reviews and recommendations are based on unbiased research by our editorial team. Read more about us.

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