There are many requirements that a pet owner must meet before traveling by air with a dog. While specific regulations will vary by airline, most airlines work with the same general rules when it comes to flying dogs.
Dogs Cannot Fly Alone
Every airline that was researched for this article has a rule against flying unaccompanied dogs from one point to another. Understand that dogs are considered to be cargo to the airline. You can’t send your luggage to a city somewhere across the country without going with it (only the airline can do that – insert rim shot here) and you can’t send your dog. Unaccompanied dogs must be transported by a licensed and approved pet transportation company.
Clean Bill of Health
All airlines require that a dog that will be flying with you receive a full physical examination and be tested for various diseases (most commonly rabies) before they’ll be allowed to fly. Usually the airline will require that the exam certificate be dated within a certain amount of time before the date of the flight, so the exam you had your dog undergo two years ago will not suffice for a flight you intend to take next week.
Weather Related Restrictions
The cargo hold on an airplane can become very hot. Because of this fact there are restrictions on what times of the year dogs may travel to and from certain cities. Most airlines will also enforce specifically weather and temperature related restrictions. For example, if the temperature in the arrival or departure city exceeds eighty or eighty five degrees Fahrenheit, pets will not be permitted on the plane.
Pets in the Cabin
Many airlines are now permitting the transport of pets in the cabin of the plane, provided they can fit into the in-cabin kennel cage (22" long by 9" high on most airlines). The cost for this service also varies by airline but is under $100.00 in most cases. This is a considerable improvement compared to the pets transported in the cargo hold which many consider an unsafe practice and which can cost more than $300.00 in some cases.
The customs laws of many nations restrict the passage of dogs and other pets over their borders. Airlines must comply with these laws and in many cases your dog will not be able to join you on an international flight at all.