Every year, millions of Americans move across and outside of the country. According to the US Census Bureau, 27.1 million Americans relocated in 2021. And with dogs present in more than 69 million households, it’s not surprising that many movers bring their pets along when they relocate.
For small dog breed owners, it’s easy to bring their furry friends into the cabin as carry-on luggage. But if you have a Great Dane or any other breed of large dogs, it’s not as simple as walking into the plane.
If you’re moving or going on a vacation with a large dog, you probably have many questions and concerns on how to go about it. We address all of them below.
Can you bring a large dog on a plane?
Flying with a dog isn’t as simple as flying with a child, but it can be done.
Small dog breeds can be brought into the cabin provided they’re inside their crate and are crate trained. Typically, they need to weigh 20 lbs. or less, following the airline’s carry-on luggage weight restriction.
If you have a large dog, you can still take them on the plane but not in the cabin. Depending on how large your dog is, they could travel as checked baggage or as cargo.
The first option means your dog is on the same flight but crated and placed in the cargo hold beneath the plane. This is the usual option for medium-sized dogs, and there may be limitations on when you can travel.
Airlines might not allow pets to travel as checked baggage on extremely hot or cold days due to the temperature fluctuations in the cargo hold. There may also be limitations on the number of pets they can carry on a flight.
The second option—large dogs traveling as cargo—is similar to flying as checked baggage. But they are instead placed in a pressurized, temperature-controlled compartment. This is the most comfortable option for large dogs and is ideal even if you’re not traveling on the same plane as them.
Do I need specific paperwork to fly with my large dog?
Before flying, your dog needs a trip to the veterinarian within 10 days of your departure date. Airlines will require copies of your dog’s health certificate to ensure their safe and smooth flight.
The health certificate must declare that your pet was examined by a vet and found free of infectious or contagious diseases as these could put other animals and people at risk.
You will also need to present rabies vaccination certification and their breed verification form signed by a licensed veterinarian. The latter is to ensure that your dog is on the approved breed list.
These are the usual documents that airlines ask for when you’re traveling with a large dog. But for more specific requirements, consult with the airline directly.
How much does flying with a large dog cost?
Taking dogs on a plane could require additional fees, especially for large dogs. These fees vary widely, depending on:
- The airline you choose
- Your destination
- The dog’s size
- How your dog is traveling (cabin or cargo)
Flying large dogs as cargo will incur higher fees than carry-on or checked since they need special accommodations. Check with your airline so you can prepare for fees accordingly.
Which airlines allow you to fly with large dogs?
Most airlines can accommodate pets, including large dogs. According to USA Today, though, the following airlines are the most large-dog-friendly:
- Air Canada
- Air France
- Adria Airways
- Aegean Airways
- American Airlines
- Austrian Air
- Delta Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- LATAM Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Sun Country Airlines
- Swiss International Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
Will dogs be able to eat or go to the bathroom during the flight?
If you have a large dog, it’s best not to feed them 4 to 6 hours before the flight, especially if it’s a long flight. This reduces the dog’s need to pee or poop while in the air.
Since they cannot be let out during flight, they will have to go in their crate, which isn’t ideal.
Your dog’s crate should have two water bowls attached to their crate door. One is for replenishing their water. The other is for placing ice, which gives them ready access to water during the flight.
Airlines don’t feed dogs in transit as the cargo hold will mostly be inaccessible. But for flights with layovers, pack a food dish with a secured small supply of dry food. The airline staff will feed them at designated pet hubs during layovers.
Will flying be stressful for dogs?
Some dogs may get anxious or experience motion sickness while flying. This may cause them to have an upset stomach and vomit, which is another reason they shouldn’t be fed right before a flight.
Changes in temperature, especially in the cargo hold, along with pressure changes that make their ears pop can also affect your dog. As such, most experts do not recommend flying as a mode of transport, especially for large dogs.
What other options do I have when transporting my dog?
If you want to relocate with your dog and not have to worry about everything mentioned above, it’s best to consult with reliable dog transport companies.
Dog transportation services are specially designed to keep man’s best friend safe and comfortable during travel. At Pet Van Lines, we provide pet transportation services for large dogs using spacious, climate-controlled SUVs or minivans.
With these services, you don’t have to worry about size and breed restrictions, food, and the overall comfort of your beloved dog. Our drivers are trained in handling dogs, making sure they get to eat, rehydrate, and exercise during long drives.
If you want a safe and hassle-free pet transportation option, contact Pet Van Lines for a free quote today.