Do Dogs Get Distressed on Planes?

Jetsetting Aussie Dog Owners may have a good reason to rejoice. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority – in other words,… The post Do Dogs Get Distressed on Planes? appeared first on Mad Paws.

Do Dogs Get Distressed on Planes?

Jetsetting Aussie Dog Owners may have a good reason to rejoice. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority – in other words, Australian aviation’s governing body – is set to change laws around pets and planes. Previously, only service dogs could travel in the cabin. But the new laws will allow any kind of assistance animal to journey alongside their Owner. However, before you go booking your pooch a window seat, you might want to consider the question, “Do dogs get distressed on planes?”

Here’s what you need to know about travelling with your dog on a plane and what to think about before doing so.


How do dogs usually travel on planes?

Traditionally, dogs (and other pets) have travelled in a special part of the plane’s cargo section. While that may sound a little risky, the cargo section is not entirely bleak. The cargo section is often climate-controlled and pressurised in the same way as the main cabin, meaning pets can travel pretty comfortably.

Within the cargo section, pets are placed in special crates approved for air travel. They’re also usually required to have a water bowl with a drinking funnel. Some airlines allow pets to bring their favourite toy, and may even permit two small animals to travel in the same crate.

Prior to getting on board the plane, pets are generally given priority boarding. They also receive a bit of TLC by airline staff to make sure they’re content. Staff may look after them during stopovers, too.

However, some airlines allow small pets to travel in the cabin with their Owner – mostly only on short-haul flights. The policy is particularly prevalent in the US, with airlines like American Airlines and Delta permitting pets in the cabin. Just like travelling in cargo, though, there are still certain requirements for cabin-bound pets, including being in a proper crate.

Do dogs get distressed on planes?

While most pet-friendly airlines implement precautions to keep animals safe and secure, travelling with a pet isn’t without its challenges. Travel can be trying even for us humans, and it’s often very much the same for our furbabies. 

Flying is a totally bizarre ordeal that doesn’t suit all dogs. Some puppers may take to the experience of flying in cargo completely fine. Others – particularly those prone to anxiety or not accustomed to travelling – might struggle. 

The cargo hold is a completely unprecedented place for pets, free of their usual comforts and their darling Owner. It’s very dark and noisy, too, and can be susceptible to air pressure and temperature changes. And, because pets are often in their crate for extended periods of time (even on short-haul flights), it’s very likely that they’ll soil themselves during the flight – creating even more discomfort. Lastly, there are obviously no people around to help keep them calm. 

Aside from the anxiety of flying, there are a few risks involved with air travel, which we’ll get to shortly.


Do dogs get distressed on planes even if they’re in the cabin?

There are definitely a few advantages to travelling with your dog in the cabin, instead of cargo. 

The biggest benefit is that you’re present. You can provide comfort to your pupper and monitor them for signs of anxiety. The cabin is also less likely to undergo fluctuations in air pressure and temperature, both of which can be distressing to your doggo. Before and after the flight, you can also stay with your dog instead of handing them to airline staff.

But even cabin travel can be stressful to dogs. There are lots of people on-board the flight, a long time spent confined in their carrier, and multiple new and strange environments. Once again, while some dogs may be able to handle it, others might panic.

As well, cabin travel isn’t available to all pets. Despite the fact that some Owners have managed (or unsuccessfully tried) to get more exotic pets into the cabin – including pot-bellied pigs, baby kangaroos, monkeys, ponies, and an actual peacock – most airlines only allow animals of a certain size. 

Generally, in order to sit in the cabin, they’ll need to comfortably fit in a carrier that can squeeze under your seat. So that definitely rules out most medium to large dog breeds, and even some smaller doggos.


What to consider before taking your dog on a flight

If you’re thinking about taking your pupper on vacation, and you’re flying to get there, there are a few things you’ll want to consider first.

Your pet

First up, think about your pet’s ability to withstand long distances. Even a couple of hours on-board a plane – either in cargo or in the cabin – can be stressful to some dogs. Their stage of life is also a factor; some airlines won’t fly dogs under or over a certain age because it’s simply too dicey.

Their breed is also a major consideration. Brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus are at a higher risk of complications when flying. This is because the structure of their respiratory system makes it harder for them to regulate heat and manage stress. For this reason, some airlines even forbid them from travelling on-board.

The risks

Sadly, a number of animals have died on flights due to the risks associated with flying in cargo. Most of these animals suffered heart and respiratory issues. Other potential issues include injury during travel, dehydration, heat stroke, and hypothermia. And that’s on top of the usual stress and anxiety involved.

The airline and flight

Some airlines are more pet-friendly than others. This means they have more rigorous precautions for travelling with pets to ensure their safety. If you’d like to travel with your pet, research the various airlines that carry pets. Then, feel out the one that best safeguards your pet’s welfare.

And if you do go ahead and book the flight, see if you can get a direct one. Stopovers simply mean more travel time and more handling of your pet’s crate. Luckily, it shouldn’t be too difficult flying direct if you’re only going on a short-haul flight.

The time of year

Certain times of year are better for flying with pets than others. Needless to say, the middle of summer or winter are more likely to experience severe temperature fluctuations. Some airlines won’t allow pets to travel in cargo during particular parts of either season. This is because they’re at higher risk of overheating or contracting hypothermia.

The carrier

You’ll need to purchase an airline-approved carrier if you want your dog to travel in cargo. They should also be properly crate-trained well in advance to ensure they can comfortably stay in their crate for an extended period.

If you’re taking your pupper in the cabin, the carrier will need to fit under the seat.

Ask your vet for advice

If you’re ever unsure of whether your pet should travel, or you just need travel advice, you can always ask your vet for assistance. They’ll have a good understanding of your pet’s anticipated ability to fly, be it in cargo or in the cabin with you.

Whether it’s worth it

Consider whether flying is worth the hassle, especially if you’re only going on a short domestic trip. In many cases, pets may simply be better off staying at home with a trusted Pet Sitter!

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