A white dog sitting in a blue cage.
Dog-friendly travel

Flying with Fido: A Comprehensive Guide to Traveling with Dogs in Cargo

As a devoted dog parent, I know that leaving your furry friend behind while you jet off on vacation can be heart-wrenching. Thankfully, airlines have made it possible for your dog to tag along on your journey. We all know, however, that flying with a pet can be nerve-wracking, so I decided to embark on a deep dive into the world of canine cargo travel. Let me share my findings with you on the ins and outs of flying with dogs in cargo, and hopefully, put your mind at ease.

Health First

To start things off, it’s essential to ensure your dog is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations before flying in cargo. Most airlines require an up-to-date health certificate from a licensed veterinarian to confirm your dog’s condition. Airlines take the well-being of pets seriously, and healthy dogs will handle the stress of cargo travel much better.

Food and Water

When prepping for your flight, you’ll need to provide enough food for at least 24 hours in case of delays, cancellations, or reroutings. You might also be wondering about water. Most airlines will allow a water bottle to be attached to the outside of your dog’s crate. But, be sure to confirm this beforehand and teach your pet how to drink from the bottle ahead of time.

Climate Control

One of the primary concerns for pet owners is the temperature in the dog cargo hold. Rest assured that when flying in cargo, dogs will travel in a climate-controlled, pressurized compartment separate from luggage and other cargo. While your dog will usually be on the same flight as you, it’s essential to understand the risks cargo travel may pose to your dog.

Understanding the Risks

According to the Department of Transportation, out of 509,947 animals transported in cargo in 2018, 10 animals died (0.002% probability), 15 animals were injured (0.003% probability), and 1 animal was lost (0.0002% probability). While the vast majority of pets arrive safely, it’s crucial to be informed about potential hazards.


Cargo travel can be quite stressful for dogs. Factors like loud noise, unfamiliar scents, and motion may make your dog uneasy. However, by maintaining their overall wellness and enlisting the help of a veterinarian, you can mitigate the impact of such stressors on your furry friend.

Adequate Airflow

It’s essential that your dog’s crate is secure, sturdy, and appropriately ventilated with adequate airflow. Many airlines have strict rules in place governing crates, including required measurements and materials to ensure your dog’s safety and comfort throughout the journey.

Snub-Nosed Dogs

Breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers, known as snub-nosed or brachycephalic breeds, have unique risks when it comes to air travel in cargo. Their short snouts make it harder for them to breathe, even under the best conditions. Many airlines have banned snub-nosed breeds from flying in cargo, so it’s essential to research and confirm that your dog can fly before booking a trip.

Traveling with your dog in cargo can be a safe and enjoyable experience if you take the necessary precautions, pick the right airline, and plan ahead. Consult with your veterinarian, gather all the essential documents, adhere to the airline’s rules, and prepare your dog for the adventure of a lifetime.

May the skies be ever-friendly for you and your furry companion. Safe travels and tail wags!