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Dog traveling by plane

2 January 2020

You come to the beach and hear the sound of turquoise, warm waters. You feel the sunlight gently warming your face and at the same time, you see your dog as he is happily running towards the waves of the ocean… Nice, right? But before that happens, you must first travel together with your pup by plane. How to prepare for it? In this entry, I’ll try to help you with that…

Travelling with a dog by plane is not the easiest thing to do, it also requires prior preparation. But don’t worry, with the right approach, you’ll turn a stressful journey with your four-legged friend into an interesting adventure that you’ll remember for a long time.

Remember, that every pup is different, so everyone will need to prepare in a different way. And it all depends on how your dog behaves in stressful new situations, whether he is taught discipline, how he reacts to car travel and how he will travel during the plane flight. You can read about the various transport options in my next post.

St. Augustine Beach – Florida

How does it look in practice?

Our three-year-old dog Macho has already visited the United States twice in his life. The first time he accompanied us on a four-month trip to the USA, during which we visited many of the States. Macho was running after squirrels in Central Park, kayaked and dived with manatees in Crystal River, and drove on an electric motorcycle in Texas.

Our second, lasting several months trip to the USA is taking place right now. We live in a house near the beach in St. Augustine Beach, Florida, so that Macho is close to the beach, where he swims in the ocean, runs after seagulls and digs big holes in the sand.

In order to make it easier for our pet to endure a plane flight, we adjust the entire journey for him. We only book direct flights to avoid long and tiring transfers. We always choose a direct connection from Warsaw to New York because it is the shortest flight to the United States, which takes about 9 hours. With proper preparation, our brave traveller can sleep through the whole flight.

To make it even easier, we only book late flights. Why? The answer is simple, even the most stressed dogs will sleep easier at night.

Once we get to New York, we rent a car and drive hundreds of miles towards our beloved, sunny Florida. And all this so as not to tire Macho with more flights.

Macho preparations for flight

It is known that all the first times are the most difficult, that is why we took the matter very seriously and started preparations for the first flight several weeks before the planned trip. We regularly attended trainings with a dog trainer to consolidate discipline commands and walking by the leg.

Long before the flight, we would take Macho to crowded places and travel with him on public transport so that he had as much as possible to deal with unusual and unfamiliar situations. We took a very responsible approach, and Macho? Hmm, you could say he treated our training as an extra daytime entertainment.

And when it comes to the long car ride, fortunately we never had a problem with that, because our Macho has been visiting even the farthest corners of Poland with us since he was a little pup.

A few days before the flight, we limited all travel by car and also made sure that Macho had “an oasis of peace” at home. You know, flying an airplane will be easier with a relaxed dog than with a stressed one, right?

St. Augustine Beach – Floryda

Few days before the flight

As our journey to the other end of the world was approaching in great steps, it was time for the greatest preparations. 3 days before the flight we changed the meal times so that Macho did not have the need to pee during the flight. Have you ever seen a dog go to the toilet on a plane? Well, neither have I.

If the planned flight is in the evening, then the last meal (smaller than usual), Macho gets early in the morning and the last water to drink he gets afternoon hours. Thanks to the right time of feeding, our brave traveller can survive the whole flight without having to “use the toilet”. Remember, that every dog is different, so preparing your dog for the flight is a very, very individual matter.

How many hours does a dog have to last without peeing?

Well, you have to remember that in addition to the flight to the United States itself, which lasts several hours, you need to get at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled flight (unless you check in your baggage earlier). I’m always worried about unplanned plane delays, but as befits a woman, I like to worry without need.

Upon arrival, the dogs can use the special toilet at the airport. Such toilets should be located at any major JFK airport. This makes things much easier, as baggage collection and immigration control can take up to several hours.

But what if the doggy wants to pee on the plane? Hmm, I didn’t have such a situation, but just in case, I’m always taking a doggy peeing mat in my hand luggage. If necessary, I’d take Macho to the toilet, put the mat down and give the command to pee. Will it work? I hope I never have to check. Luckily, my Macho is quite well trained under this account and can last for up to 15 hours without having to pee.

Palm Beach – Florida

The day before the flight to the USA

One day before the big flight to the America, we sleep in a hotel in Warsaw, close to the airport and a large park or forest. This is very important, because on the day of the flight we spend many hours in the open air walking and playing with Macho. Our big and at the same time a small traveller is very energetic, he needs a lot of movement during the day, so the possibility to get him tired properly on the day of the flight makes him fall asleep on the plane like a child. Although after many hours of constant walking I often wonder who is more tired, me or Macho…

Just in case, I’m always taking with my hand baggage a prescribed vet drug Sileo, which is a sedative for dogs. Although we never had to use it, it’s worth having it with you. But remember, you should never give medicine to your dog without consulting a veterinarian and without trying it out first! This is very important because the reaction to the medicine could be different, and you probably wouldn’t want something to happen to your pet 10 km above the ground without being able to go to the vet quickly.

As you may have noticed, our Macho looks a bit dangerous. At the airport we noticed that security in two different places approached us specially under the pretext of “stroking him”, although they probably wanted to check if the dog has no aggressive behaviours. At the airport as well as on the plane, you should be alert and watch your dog.

What if your dog doesn’t like other animals, and suddenly it turns out that a person sits next to you with another dog? Don’t worry, the plane attendants make sure that such situations do not happen.

What documents do you need to bring your dog into the United States

It is worth taking care of the necessary documents much earlier than before the flight itself. The lack of certain documents and vaccinations within the deadline may be decisive that your dog will not be allowed to enter the United States.

First of all, the dog must be identified. The animal must have a chip implanted and must have a passport. All you have to do is go to your vet to chip your pup and get a passport for him.

Secondly, vaccinations, vaccinations, and again, vaccinations. Make sure your dog has a set of vaccinations and deworming done. In the case of the United States, the rabies vaccination is very important, which must be done at least 30 days before entering the USA. It is important that the vaccination is documented by the veterinarian in the passport as well as in the health booklet. Moreover, you should also go to the poviat veterinarian for validation of rabies vaccination. Such a certificate is not necessary, but before flying overseas it is worth taking care of all the documentation so that there are no surprises on site. The validation of Macho vaccinations were checked during my previous trip to the States two years ago. You don’t want to leave the success of your trip to the humour of an airport employee, do you?

Thirdly, checking your dog’s health by the poviat veterinarian. Up to 48 hours before the journey you should go with your dog to a regular veterinarian to see if he is suitable for the journey. Next you should pay a visit to the poviat veterinarian who issues an animal health certificate.

Thanks to the above described activities, we travel with Macho to the United States without any problems. In the next entry (which will appear in a few days) you will learn about the different options of transporting your animal during the flight.

1 Comment
  1. Reply


    14 April 2020

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Hey! My name is Kaja and I'm so happy to see you here. :) By traveling around the world, I make my dreams come true and I share my experiences on my blog and Instagram. I’m discovering amazing places, taking photos of them and infecting others with the desire to explore them. I haven't been "everywhere" yet, but I have it on my list. :)