Are you traveling by plane soon? Well, as the saying goes, dogs are man’s best friend. Our dogs offer us unconditional love, loyalty, and a never-ending source of joy. So, when it comes to embarking on new adventures, many pet owners find it hard to resist the idea of bringing their furry companions along for the ride. However, when planning a trip that involves air travel, concerns about our dogs’ well-being inevitably arise. One common question that arises is whether dogs’ ears ache when riding a plane.

In this article, we’ll shed light on this intriguing topic and address the concerns pet owners may have. Let’s explore the physiology of dogs’ ears, how they differ from human ears, and whether these differences affect their comfort during flights. By debunking the mystery surrounding dogs’ ear discomfort, we hope to provide pet owners with valuable insights and peace of mind when taking their beloved canine friends on air travel adventures.

Understanding Dog’s Ears

When riding a plane, many of us have experienced a sensation of pressure or discomfort in our ears. This phenomenon is commonly known as “ear popping” or “earache”. Do dogs experience it? Yes, they can also experience discomfort when riding on a plane. While dog ears differ from human ears in many ways, they can also feel pain. Dog’s ears can move independently, allowing them to pinpoint the source of sounds with greater accuracy. Their ear canals are longer and shaped differently, aiding in amplifying sounds and detecting high-frequency sounds that are often beyond human range.

Just like humans, dogs can experience changes in cabin pressure during takeoff and landing. However, dogs have a relatively larger Eustachian tube, so they can equalize the pressure more effectively. Even so, since dogs do not know how to express their discomfort in words, owners normally feel anxious about taking them on a plane. As an owner, you can practice certain techniques like keeping dogs calm, providing distractions, or using ear protection can help minimize any potential ear discomfort during air travel.

Travelling with pet. Dog on plane board near window. Airline pet transportation service

Risks Associated with Flying

There is indeed a risk associated with dogs and flying. Changes in air pressure during air travel can indeed affect dogs’ ears. Just like humans, dogs may experience discomfort or even pain due to the rapid changes in cabin pressure during takeoff and landing. The following are other risks associated with flying with your dog. Taking appropriate measures to address these risks ensures a safer and more comfortable travel experience for our four-legged companions.

  • Dog ear problems when flying – when your dog has ear problems, ear infections, or allergies, they are more susceptible to ear discomfort. 
  • Respiratory issues can worsen considering the air pressure and temperature on the plane. 
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Potential for mishandling
  • Mishaps during transportation 

Preparing for the Flight

If you’re traveling with your pet, you must not just prepare yourself. But you also need to help them by making sure they’re physically fit and ready to take the ride. The following are some things you can do. 

  • Research airline policies and requirements is crucial to ensure a smooth journey with your dog. Understand the specific rules regarding crate size, documentation, vaccination requirements, and any breed restrictions, as these can vary between airlines.
  • Consult with a veterinarian before flying with your dog. Ask for valuable advice regarding ear pain in dogs when flying.
  • Prepare all your documents such as vaccination cards, health certificates, and other recommendation papers for flying with dogs. 
  • Get pre-flight preparation and training. It can significantly contribute to a positive experience for your dog.
  • Familiarize them with their travel crate well in advance, gradually increasing the duration of time spent inside. 
  • Practice basic obedience commands to ensure control and comfort during the journey, and consider providing familiar items, such as their favorite toys or a blanket with your scent, to create a sense of security.

In-flight Comfort and Safety

Follow these tips to keep your dog comfortable during a flight. 

  • Place familiar items, like their favorite blanket or toy, in their travel crate to provide a sense of security.
  • Consider using calming aids, such as pheromone sprays or natural supplements, to help reduce anxiety.
  • Stay calm and reassuring, as your dog can pick up on your emotions.
  • Ensure your dog is well-hydrated before the flight, but avoid excessive water intake right before boarding.
  • Follow feeding guidelines provided by your veterinarian and avoid feeding a full meal immediately before the flight to prevent discomfort or potential accidents.

Safety guidelines for in-cabin pets

  • Always follow the airline’s guidelines for in-cabin pets, including the proper use and size of the travel crate.
  • Securely close and lock the crate to prevent accidental escape during the flight.
  • Keep your dog’s identification tags updated with your contact information.

Cabin Environment

  • Keep your dog’s crate under the seat in front of you, ensuring it is properly stowed and not blocking any exits or pathways.
  • Be mindful of the cabin temperature and consider providing a blanket or sweater if it tends to be chilly.
  • Avoid opening the crate during the flight unless necessary, as it can cause stress or escape attempts.

Regular Comfort and Bathroom Breaks

  • If permitted, take your dog for a short walk during layovers or long flights to provide exercise and bathroom breaks.
  • Use designated pet relief areas in airports, if available, to allow your dog to relieve themselves.

Communication with Cabin Crew

  • Inform the cabin crew that you have a dog with you, and follow any instructions they provide.
  • Be considerate of other passengers and avoid letting your dog’s actions disturb or inconvenience others.

Minimizing Ear Pain and Discomfort 

It’s important to spot some signs that your dog is having ear pain or discomfort so you can apply the proper remedy. The following are some signs that your dog is having ear discomfort.

  • Frequent scratching or rubbing
  • Excessive head shaking
  • Ear odor or discharge
  • Redness or swelling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Changes in behavior
  • Tilting or holding the head to one side

Tips for minimizing ear pain and discomfort during the flight

If you notice that your dog is having ear discomfort, you can follow the tips below to make sure he is fine until the plane lands.

  • Let your dog drink water as it can help ease the pain. You can provide your dog with medication too, if your vet prescribes it. 
  • Cover your dog’s ears throughout the flight. There are specialized ear covers or earplugs designed for dogs that can help minimize the impact of changes in cabin pressure on their ears.
  • Cover your dog’s body with a blanket, and give him a soft massage for assurance.  Try to play some soothing music if necessary.
  • Give your dog some distractions such as interactive toys, puzzle feeders, or treats to provide mental stimulation during the flight. This can divert their attention and help reduce any potential focus on ear discomfort.
  • Consult with the cabin crew or vet if your dog has excessive scratching or head shaking.

After the Flight

After the flight is over, it is important to create a calm and comfortable environment for your dog to recover. Offer a cozy and quiet space where they can rest undisturbed. Minimize loud noises and activities that may aggravate their ears. Providing familiar items like their bed or favorite blanket can help them recover fast and feel more at ease.

Of course, keep a close eye on your dog after the flight and observe any signs of ongoing ear pain or discomfort. Look for excessive scratching, head shaking, redness, swelling, or discharge. If these symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek veterinary attention promptly.

Dog in the airport hall before the flight, near luggage suitcase baggage, concept of traveling with pets, a small black dog sitting in the pet carrier before the trip at the terminal station


Ear pain in dogs when flying is not unusual.  Like humans, they can experience discomfort or pain. As their owner, you need to make sure that they are safe and comfortable during the flight. While you cannot avoid discomfort in your pet, there are several things you can do to ease it. This includes bringing their favorite toy, giving them soft massages while on the plane, and bringing meds for emergency cases. Of course, it is crucial that you flight-train and crate-train your dog, and check and follow airline rules when flying with dogs. 

People Also Ask Questions:

Do dogs experience ear pain during flights?

Dogs may experience ear pain during flights due to changes in cabin pressure. The rapid changes in pressure during takeoff and landing can cause discomfort or even pain in their ears, similar to how humans might feel. Some dogs are more sensitive to these pressure changes than others.

How can I make the flight more comfortable for my dog? 

To make your dog more comfortable during flight, you need to help your dog become ready for it. Spend at least three weeks training your dog for a flight and getting him familiar with the airport crowd. It’s also important that you crate-train your dog. Most of all, you can follow the tips we have prepared here.

Can I give my dog medication to help with ear pain during a flight?

Yes, but you need to consult your doctor first. Don’t self-medicate your dogs as they can have negative reactions to the medicine.

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