Whether you are choosing to bring your dog along on a family vacation or it’s one of your only options, flying with pets can be a bit of a challenge. I’ve only flown with my dogs twice, so I’m definitely not an expert who can tell you every little detail about the process especially across different airlines. If you are looking for that level of detail, I urge you to check out the articles listed below. Read, read, read, and ask questions.

The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Your Dog {For Beginners} | #sponsored by Sleepypod | Dogs, Airplane, Pet Friendly, What to Bring

This post is sponsored by Sleepypod. I am being compensated to help share information about Sleepypod, but Beagles & Bargains only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers.

9 Key Lessons Learned While Flying with a Dog In-Cabin by You Did What With Your Weiner
*One of the first posts I read BEFORE we flew!*
Tips for Traveling on an Airplane With a Dog by Dog Mom Days
10 Air Travel Tips for Small Dogs by Irresistible Pets

How to Fly Internationally with a Dog by Long Haul Trekkers
Reservations for Flying with Your Cat by Cats Going Places

How to Take Your Dog on a Plane by NerdWallet
16 Things You Must Know The Next Time You Fly With Your Dog by BarkPost
8 Steps to Take Before Flying With Your Dog by Rover.com

When we made the decision to fly with Ralph & Luna, it wasn’t because we thought they would have tons of fun (they didn’t). We made that choice because the other option meant leaving them in doggy boarding or with a sitter for nearly 3 weeks over a holiday. Neither solution was ideal and for us it made more sense to fly with the pups because they were just small enough to fly in cabin.

The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Your Dog {For Beginners} | #sponsored by Sleepypod | Dogs, Airplane, Pet Friendly, What to Bring | Sleepypod Air

Though I don’t regularly choose to fly with my dogs, I am an avid packer, a worrier, and a extremely detail oriented dog mom. I know what I had that prevented the entire plane from hating us and I know what I WISH we had packed. My dogs aren’t perfect when they fly. They can actually be pretty big jerks. I SO envy those people with dogs that just accept their fate and chill out until the plane lands. That’s NOT Ralph & Luna. If you are already an expert when it comes to traveling with dogs, then this list isn’t for you.

If you have never flown with your dog or only done it a handful of times. If you have been thinking about it, but don’t know if it would really be a better choice than taking a long road trip. If its been a really long time and you forgot everything, then this list is for you.

The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Your Dog {For Beginners} | #sponsored by Sleepypod | Dogs, Airplane, Pet Friendly, What to Bring | Sleepypod Air

Before You Go

  • Confirm that your dog will in fact fit under the seat in front of you. Unless they are an Service Dog or ESA (Emotional Support Animal), they will have to remain under the seat in front of you during take off and landing.
  • Find a comfortable carrier that fits your dog. Our go to carrier is the Sleepypod Air because it can fold to fit underneath the seat and then expand to give the dogs a bit more room between take off and landing. You can read more about our experience with this carrier here.
  • Practice, practice, practice! If your dog doesn’t already regularly spend a lot of time in their carrier, get them acclimated to it. Start early. Reward with praise and treats at every step of the way. Here was our methodology:
    • Allow your dog to explore the carrier open and empty.
    • Using treats guide your dog inside the carrier and have them stay inside for a few moments.
    • Increase the length of time inside.
    • Once comfortable, start to close the carrier a little at a time.
    • When you can fully close the carrier, keep them inside for 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, up to 20-30 minutes.
    • Once they are comfortable inside for extended periods of time, start varying the environment. Play music (or airplane noises). Pick up and move the carrier. Go for a car ride. It’s hard to train for the exact environment on a plane, but it definitely won’t be quiet and motionless!
  • Visit your dog’s veterinarian. You may need to acquire a Health Certificate depending on your airline. It’s also a great opportunity to chat about your concerns for flying and they can offer you tips for keeping your dog calm during the flight. If your dog has medicine, you can also make sure you have enough for your entire trip.
  • Update your dog’s microchip information, if needed. Go ahead and double check it’s correct!
  • Call your airline to book your dog’s travel. Each plane has a maximum number of pet’s allowed, so you’ll want to do this early on to ensure your dog can fly.

The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Your Dog {For Beginners} | #sponsored by Sleepypod | Dogs, Airplane, Pet Friendly, What to Bring | Pet Relief Area

Carry-On

  • TSA Compliant Carrier. We love our Sleepypod Air!
  • Collar and Leash
  • Harness
  • Roll of Poop Bags. These can be handy for accidents, upset stomachs, or other messes.
  • A Few Paper Towels. Also great for unexpected messes. If you don’t bring some, you can also grab some from the airport bathroom.
  • Water bottle. Make sure it’s empty to get through security!
  • Pop Up Water Bowl
  • Calming Aid (if needed). Benedryl, Hemp Oil, CBD, or whatever works best for your dog.
  • Small, Soft Treats. Great for tearing into tiny, itty bitty pieces for keeping their attention on the plane or in other difficult situations.
  • High Value Treats. For getting you pup back into their carrier.
  • Chews. Use with Caution. Great for keeping them occupied, but you don’t want to overfeed! There’s no dog bathroom on the plane.
  • Food. At least 2-3 meals in case there are issues with your checked luggage.
  • Prescription Medicine (if needed)
  • Bandana with Your Scent. This may help your dog feel more comfortable inside their carrier. We put a bandana on each dog and then switched them before taking off.
  • Airlines Pet Policy – Printed. So you will always know YOUR RIGHTS!
  • Payment Receipt – Printed. Proof that your dog is allowed on the plane.
  • Health certificate (if needed) – Printed
  • Veterinarian and Vaccine Records – Printed
  • Veterinarian Contact Information – Printed. In case of emergency, have contact info for your veterinarian back home and one in your destination.
  • Photo of Your Dog – Printed. Just in case they get lost.
  • Small First Aid Kit. See our full first aid kit here.
  • Hand Held Fan. To help cool down your dog inside the carrier. It gets warm in there!

The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Your Dog {For Beginners} | #sponsored by Sleepypod | Dogs, Airplane, Pet Friendly, What to Bring | Sleepypod Air

Checked Luggage

  • Food. Enough for your entire stay, especially if they have a special diet or can easily get an upset stomach.
  • Favorite Toy
  • Favorite Blanket
  • Towel. For messes and covering rental car seats.
  • Small Shampoo Bottle or Sample. You just never know what messes your dog will get into!

The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Your Dog {For Beginners} | #sponsored by Sleepypod | Dogs, Airplane, Pet Friendly, What to Bring | Sleepypod Air

If you decide that flying isn’t for you and your dog and that road trips are more your speed, then be sure to check out our Ultimate Road Trip Guide.

Like this post? Help share this packing list for flying with dogs by pinning the image below on Pinterest!

The Ultimate Packing List for Flying With Your Dog {For Beginners} | #sponsored by Sleepypod | Dogs, Airplane, Pet Friendly, What to Bring

Disclaimer: I am being compensated to help spread the word about the Sleepypod Clickit Sport and Yummy Travel Bowls. I received no other compensation or additional benefits for mentioning the brands or products in this post. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business.

Jessica Shipman

Jessica Shipman

Jessica Shipman is a bargain hunter, food lover, and software engineer figuring out how to be a pet parent for the first time. Jessica has been a long time lover of all animals (especially llamas and manatees) and is happy that she can finally combine that love with technology.
Jessica Shipman
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