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Is Air Travel Safe For Dogs?

Published on: April 27, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

dog in grassDogs travel safely on airplanes around the country and around the world, all the time. The safety statistics for pet air travel are highly reassuring, particularly when you contemplate the fact that hundreds of thousands of animals are transported this way every year.

Nonetheless, if you are going to be moving a long distance and want to take your dog with you – and we know you do – there are issues relating to air travel and dogs that you should consider. Make sure you take the issues below into consideration when you ship your dog.


Snub nosed (brachycephalic) dogs ranging from Pugs and Shih Tzus to Boxers and Bulldogs are all at risk for breathing problems, simply because of their snout’s physical structure. If your pet has a short nose, you know all about that. What you may not know is that some airlines restrict travel for snub nosed dogs, due to concerns that traveling in the cargo hold might exacerbate their natural breathing problems.

This doesn’t mean your dog cannot fly safely, but it is something to be aware of. If your dog is small enough, they may be able to travel with you in the cabin as an alternative. But you should also know that the section of the hold where dogs ride as cargo or excess baggage is pressurized, temperature-controlled and oxygenated, just like the cabin.


For obvious reasons, dogs who are elderly or suffer from chronic health conditions are already “compromised” to some extent. If this is your dog, ask your vet whether air travel will be safe. Learn more about the safety of international air travel for older pets.


The farther your move will take you, the more complex the flight arrangements will be, and not all airlines are equally pet-friendly. The best airlines have policies and procedures in place that go the extra mile to ensure your dog travels safely. For instance, they routinely load pets last onto the plane and then off-load them first at the destination. That assures your dog will spend the least amount of time onboard.

Many airlines restrict air travel for dogs when the weather at either end of a flight is very hot or very cold. Even though pets don’t normally spend much time moving to and from the plane and they aren’t left sitting on the tarmac for long periods, this safety measure was created to ensure safety in cases of delay.


Your pet's health certificate(s), vaccination records, physical exam, import permit and so on are required to verify – officially – that your dog is healthy enough to travel and to enter a new country without posing a potential health risk or risk of spreading disease. That supports safe travel for your pet and protects the other animals in your destination country.

Many countries, especially critically vulnerable island nations, require a quarantine period to ensure your dog is disease-free before allowing them to formally enter the country.

Your new living environment

Where are you going? Foreign cultures don’t always view pets, especially dogs, as full-on family members, the way Americans do. Places like Hong Kong have strict rules and/or expectations about dog behavior that you will have to learn and respect to keep your pooch safe. Learn what you should know about moving your pet to Hong Kong.

Are you moving to a climate that is appropriate for your dog? As much as you love them, your Alaskan malamute won’t do so well near the equator where it’s extremely hot and humid. And then there are other potential local health risks for dogs – additional vaccinations cannot protect them from animal or insect dangers. You’ll have to learn about those risks in order to keep your dog safe in their new environment.

So here’s the bottom line: air travel is definitely safe for dogs. But every dog is an individual, so the only way to know for sure if air travel is a good plan for your furry family member is to do your homework and talk with your vet. Consult with a professional pet transport company, too. They know all the ins and outs of pet travel, because that’s their job. Working with them will be the best way to ensure your dog travels safely.

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