Flying with a big dog can be an exhilarating experience. If you have a large dog and are planning to fly together, careful preparation and knowledge are key to ensuring a smooth and stress-free journey for both you and your furry companion. 

In this blog, we’ll explore invaluable tips and insights to make flying with a big dog a breeze. So, fasten your seatbelts, as we take off into the world of flying with our cherished large dogs.

Airline Pet Policies for Large Dogs

Knowing the airline pet policies for large dogs is the most crucial step if you need to take if you plan on taking your pet to a flight.  Each airline has its own set of regulations regarding pet travel, including specific guidelines for large dogs. Alaskan or American Airlines, for instance, would allow large dogs as checked-in baggage. As a pet owner, you need to bring your dog to check-in as you would with your large traveling bags. 

In this case, you need a large dog travel crate.  Upon check-in, your dog will be weighed and moved like the rest of your bags. This will cost around $200 to over $1000. (For other costs, please check The following are some tips before checking in. 

  • Research policies of various airlines regarding pet travel, especially for large dogs. 
  • Pay close attention to weight and size restrictions.
  • Prepare for any additional fees or documentation requirements.
  • Plan well in advance considering that airlines often have limited spots for pets in the cabin.
  • Choose a pet-friendly airlines for big dogs. 
  • Ensure proper crate preparation and look for airline-approved crates.
  • Have your dog checked with a veterinarian and get a health certificate to comply with the airline requirements.

Choosing the Right Travel Crate

As a dog owner, it is normal to get worried about your large dog being check-in with other large bags. The following are some tips on how to select the perfect crate for your beloved pet. 

  • Looking for IATA compliant crate since they are more durable.
  • Avoid plywood crates since they are heavier. Since your large dog is already heavy, the weight of plywood crates will only be burdensome and inconvenient to dogs.
  • Make sure your dog can fit in the crate. Allow some space for him to turn or move.
  • Consider plastic crates that are lightweight and with mesh door or window for breathing.
  • Make sure the door closes and locks securely.
  • Place labels on the prominent spots of your dog’s travel cage. 
service dog pilot dog sitting in plane, looking out the window

Preparing Your Large Dog for the Flight

  • Familiarize your dog with the crate.  Introduce the travel crate to your dog well in advance of the flight. Make it a positive and comfortable space by placing treats, toys, and familiar bedding inside. 
  • Ensure your dog is comfortable spending extended periods in the crate and then gradually increase the time for crate.
  • Give your dog plenty of exercise before the flight to help them burn off excess energy. A tired dog is more likely to be calm and relaxed during travel.
  • Visit the veterinarian to ensure your dog is in good health and up to date on vaccinations. Obtain any required health certificates or documentation required by the airline.
  • Ensure your dog has proper identification tags with your contact information. Consider microchipping as an additional safety measure, providing a permanent form of identification.
  • Feed your dog a light meal a few hours before the flight to prevent an upset stomach during travel. Avoid feeding immediately before the flight to reduce the risk of discomfort or motion sickness.
  • Pack necessary items such as food, water, treats, medications, waste bags, and a leash in your carry-on bag. These supplies will come in handy during layovers or delays.
  • Dogs are perceptive to their owner’s emotions. So remain calm and positive during the travel preparations to help your dog stay relaxed and at ease.

Managing Your Large Dog’s Anxiety While Flying

Like humans, dogs can feel anxious when flying. This is true especially for large dogs because they need to be placed in a crate and can be away from their owners for the rest of the flight time. Here are some tips for flying with a large dog.

  • Place blankets or pillows on the crate that smell like home. 
  • Give them calming medicine before the flight but make sure you consult with the vet first. 
  • Desensitization to crate sounds. Make your dog familiar with crate-related sounds, such as latching the door or the sound of the crate being moved
  • Use a lot of positive reinforcement.
  • Use calming aids such as pheromone sprays or diffusers specifically designed for dogs.

If you need more information about how to help your dog with travel anxiety, please check our related article:

In-Cabin Travel with Large Dogs

Flying with a large dog in-cabin? Lucky for you, there are airlines that allow in-cabin travel. The following are some airlines that allow in-cabin travel for large dogs and their requirements.

Delta Air Lines: Delta permits dogs to travel in the cabin on select flights. The dog, along with its carrier, must meet size and weight restrictions and fit comfortably under the seat in front of you.

American Airlines: American Airlines allows in-cabin travel for dogs that meet their size and weight restrictions. The dog, in an approved carrier, must be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

United Airlines: United Airlines permits dogs in the cabin on certain flights. The dog must meet size and weight requirements and fit in an airline-approved carrier that can be stowed beneath the seat.

Other Considerations for Flying with a Large Dog

When flying with dogs, there are several other important considerations beyond the actual flight. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Some flights have pet relief areas with turf grass and other comforting stuff. You can go here before your actual flight. 
  • Think about how you’ll transport your dog to and from the airport. If you’re driving, ensure your vehicle is equipped with proper restraints or crates for your dog’s safety. If you’re using public transportation, check the specific rules and regulations of each mode of transportation to ensure they allow dogs and what requirements they may have.
  • Comply with custom quarantines before traveling with your big dog. You should have information about this from your airline of choice.
Travelling with pet. Dog on plane board near window. Airline pet transportation service

FAQs About Flying with a Large Dog

What are the airline policies for flying with large dogs?

Airline policies for flying with large dogs can vary. Most airlines will allow dogs that weigh below 20 pounds for in-cabin flight. If your dog is heavier, it may be put on hold or will be required to be in a crate for check-in.

How do I choose the right travel crate for my large dog? 

Consider the size and dimensions that will provide enough space for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Make sure it is well-ventilated, made of high-quality materials, and of course approved by the airline.

What can I do to prepare my dog for the flight?

Make sure you check your dog with a vet and prepare emergency medications if your dog experiences anxiety while flying.

How can I manage my large dog’s anxiety while flying?

Make sure he is comfortable in the crate as much as you can. Place familiar objects or blankets with familiar smell from home.

Can I fly with my large dog in-cabin?

Yes. There are airlines that allow in-cabin flight with dog as long as they do not pass the size and weight limit. 

Conclusion – Large Dogs and Flying

Indeed, flying with dogs requires careful planning and consideration to ensure the comfort, safety, and well-being of our furry companions. From understanding airline policies to selecting the appropriate travel crate and managing anxiety, there are several key factors to address.

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