Some people say, “home is where your dog is.” So wouldn’t it be nice if we could take our Yorkies with us wherever we go? Well, for those of us who travel, it’s a well-known fact that flying isn’t as straight forward if you want your dog to come along for the ride. Having your pet Yorkie as your next flight companion can be a great experience, but there are a lot of details to keep in mind to make
the trip as stress free as possible for the both of you:
- First Things First Call the airline.
Keep in mind that some airlines don’t allow pets to fly at all, while others have very right restrictions: ranging from the size and age of the dog to the total number of dogs per flight. The best thing to do is to call your airline well in advance (preferably before you book your ticket if your trip depends on whether or not your pup can make the journey) to make sure everything checks out. Since most airlines only allow a maximum number of dogs per flight (usually just a few), be sure to book early–and go ahead and book your seat at the same time to avoid any confusion at check-in.
- Get a pet carrier.
Below the plane or in the cabin? When it comes to Yorkies, owners have lucked out with this option—for most large dogs, the only option for airline travel is as checked baggage; with extreme temperatures and loud noises, it is usually a very traumatic experience for most pets. Since Yorkies are rarely over 10 lbs in size, there should be no problem finding a pet carrier that can fit comfortably under the seat in front of you. Soft-sided carriers are best, but check with airline before making a purchase to ensure that it meets the size requirement. And while your pup may be used to riding in your lap on car rides, chances are that your dog will be required to remain in the carrier for the entire flight. Even if you are planning on not letting your dog out of your sight the entire time, take extra precaution by adding a nametag with contact info to the carrier.
- Visit the vet.
No matter which airline you are traveling with, practically all airlines (or even specific states) have some sort of health certificate requirement for your dog. Some countries, including the UK, require that dogs be micro-chipped before entering the country. Make sure your pup is up to date on all shots well before your trip, and check with your vet to get an official document. Many regulations require that certain vaccines be given at least 30 days prior to travel. Even if your specific airline or destination doesn’t require a form, it’s better to be safe than sorry: you don’t want your pup to be put on the no-fly list! Do your research. Especially if you are traveling internationally, you will want to double check that:
1) the airline allows dogs to fly to that country
2) the country you are traveling to allows pets.
Many countries impose a quarantine period (and the same often goes for when you return—even if you have only been gone a short while). Cost Depending on which airline you choose, price can vary from $35 to several hundred. These prices often depend on whether your dog is traveling as checked baggage or in cabin. Round trip or one way? Be sure to check with the airline beforehand to make sure if the price you are paying is going to cover your entire flight. Often, you are asked the entire price up front at the check-in counter. What to Expect Extra check-in time.
- When you book your tickets, double-check the policies about checking in with Fido:
Most airlines won’t allow curbside check-in when traveling with pets. For domestic flights, plan on arriving at least 2 hours early. A nervous mutt. If you or someone you know isn’t that keen of flying, then they might have more in common with a Yorkie than they thought! While every dog is different, most dogs become somewhat nervous on flights—mainly due to the change of environment. And since Yorkies generally prefer warm clients, add a blanket to the carrier to make up for the cooler temperature around floor of the cabin. Rude passengers. Some people are just not dog people, and if your pup makes so much as a whine, be prepared to get dirty looks.
Try distracting your dog with a favorite (non-squeaky!) toy. If you’re lucky, your Yorkie will fall asleep during the flight.
- Fly direct if possible.
To minimize stress to your pup, fly directly to your destination when doable. Layovers, whether they are long or short, can only add stress to your dog. Don’t forget about food and water. The USDA requires that all pets be offered food and water at least 4 hours prior to flight. You may, however, want to avoid feeding your Yorkie a full meal right before the flight to minimize the chance of him getting sick mid-flight. Some pet carriers have water-bowl attachments on the inside; if your flight is longer than a couple of hours, look into this option.
- Don’t go for the doggie downers right off the bat.
While many humans prefer an in-flight cocktail to offset the nerves of flying, our canine friends don’t necessarily need a sedative prior to flight. In fact, some veterinarians believe the sedatives can have a damaging effect on such small dogs when combined with high altitude and quality of oxygen. Speak with your vet beforehand to decide if your Yorkie would benefit from extra relaxation.
Tips With so many restrictions and airline-specific regulations, there really cannot be enough said about double and even triple-checking your airline and destination requirements for traveling with your Yorkie. If preparations are made well enough in advance however, you can look forward to skipping a long drive and opt to fly with Man’s Best Friend.