How to make your dog more comfortable in her carrier

For most pet owners, the initial thought of being thrilled that you can take your pet along with you in-cabin on the flight is almost immediately followed by visions of a nightmare scenario – fearing how disastrous that endeavor might actually be. Going through security gates and check in process can hold anxiety if traveling without a pet. Trying to imagine all the usual issues while finagling a pet can be a daunting thought to say the least. Then there are the worries about getting that pet carrier neatly and snugly under the seat in front of you in a manner that is both comfortable for the pet and not offensive to other passengers. Lastly, there’s that tendency for the pet to be particularly squirmy and anxious when the plane is on the runway taxying for takeoff. The solution can be found by making the carrier as comfortable as possible. Let’s discuss how.

Make the Carrier a Friendly Place

The worst scenario is springing a carrier on the pet for the first time on the day of travel. Since the pet can’t ride on the owner’s lap, the carrier needs to substitute as the next best thing. The noises, movement and experiences on the plane will naturally be a very unsettling experience for the little critter. Every step should be taken to make that all important carrier a familiar and reassuring place to be. To the degree possible, the carrier should have a positive affiliation to the pet as a new travel home.

Making the Carrier Familiar

Using the pet carrier on the day of a scheduled flight should be one among many experiences the dog has already had in his/her carrier. It will make the carrier all that more alluring if it is associated with places that are favorites and experiences that the pet adores – like taking her to a favorite store and getting extra dog treats or an outing to an off-the-leash park. To add positive associations, try tossing favorite treats into the carrier, taking opportunities to give her special loves and tickles while inside the carrier and making certain to include the carrier in game time. Making the carrier a non-threatening and safe place to be will make it a calming factor on the day of travel.

Soft, Comforting Smells, Tastes & Textures

Dog in-cabin, flightBeyond getting the carrier to be a source of comfort and connection, the items inside the carrier can also increase comfort and lessen anxiety. Any toys or favorite items can serve as a distraction to help curb the canine’s nerves. If the pet is a chewer, be certain to provide a rawhide bone or favorite item to chew. Smells can also be crucial. Since the pet will be on the floor in the seat in front of the owner, a soft garment- even a worn-out t-shirt that smells like the owner can reassure the pet. And in the absence of the owner’s arms, sneaking a few fingers inside the pet carrier to give the critter a few reassuring strokes will go a long way to calm anxious nerves.

Preparations on the Day of Travel

Make certain to give the dog a long walk before you leave for the airport. If you want to give an extra measure for relaxation, consider a spritz of lavender spray. You might also consider other sprays to relax your pet during flight (Comfort Zone with DAP or Rescue Remedy Pet). Quite often, the dog is anxious just before takeoff. Once in flight, most dogs become calm and fall asleep.

Airlines Care about Your Pets

Summers can be brutal in many areas, especially in the South. Most airline carriers have taken part in keeping pets safe by implementing pet-safe programs. For example, American Airlines imposes an embargo at 85 degrees Fahrenheit if the animal is checked in or shipped as cargo. Another carrier, Delta Air, provides a Summer Live Animal Program that picks up animals by vans and delivers the animal to the destination area. Airlines impose these embargoes to keep from dehydration, heatstroke and death.

United States Airline Information

Knowing the rules and regulations of an airline carrier can help with planning a trip. Nonetheless, knowing that the airline will keep the family pet safe is the most important thing.

Air Canada – They have restrictions on breeds, when animals can fly and how to ship through cargo.

ExpressJet Airlines- They do not impose an embargo on what animals may fly but they do have strict limits on how many live animals may be shipped as cargo.

Frontier Airlines- This company no longer allows pets to fly as checked baggage or cargo.
US Airways- This company does not allow cargo or check-in pets.

Symptoms and Signs of Heatstroke and Dehydration

The importance of embargoes during summer and extreme winter temperatures are there to keep animals safe. However, even with precautions, things do happen.


  • Panting excessively
  • Tongue is unusually bright red
  • Heart rate is increased- Normal range is between 60 and 140 beats per minute
  • Breathing heavily
  • Thick saliva or vomiting
  • Expression is anxious or panicked
  • Disorientation


  • Excessive urination
  • Very little urination is also a sign
  • Sticky dry gums
  • Skin elasticity- the skin should bounce back to normal, if it does not and sticks up or does not move, then the fluid is too low in the dog’s body
  • Eyes are sunken in
  • LethargicIn

In the Event of Heatstroke and Dehydration

Although most know not to leave any animal in the car or closed spaces during high temperatures, sometimes it is forgotten. Therefore, getting the pet out of sunlight or a hot area, is the first step in cooling the animal down. Cool cloths should be placed upon the head and in the front of the neck immediately to bring the animals’ temperature down. Leave the eyes, nose and mouth area open so that the animal does not panic and can breathe. Keep water running onto the belly of the animal, this will help in cooling down the internal organs. As soon as the pet is cooled off enough that their breathing is not erratic, take them to the veterinarian.Summer’s high heat can cause dehydration quickly. Make sure the animal has fresh, clean water at all times and clean the water bowl daily, so bacteria are not an issue. Do not exercise with the animal in extreme heat of 75 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. When trying to re-hydrate, use Pedialyte mixed with water to provide nutrients lost. Keep the animal in a cool place while transporting to the veterinarian.

Top Tips for Traveling on an Airplane

Traveling can be hard at times, especially if bringing a pet along for the trip. However, planning for the trip can enable smooth sailing along the way. Never leave the house without planning in-depth, how every person including pets will be getting to the final destination.

Tips for Planning the Trip


A Unique Way to Fly

Flying with animals can be tricky; however, airlines and the federal agencies that govern the airways, have set rules and regulations to help streamline the process. Keeping to the laws, can ensure that pets are safely transported through the air.

Each airline may set their rules and regulations within reason. Some airlines have even gone as far as setting up frequent pet flyer programs.

Flyer Programs

Jetpaws from JetBlue gives frequent flyers, 300 points per trip that never expire. Virgin Atlantic rewards pets by giving frequent flyers, 1,000 points that help build up to free international flights. Although Continental only gives one point per dollar spent on a pet flying in cargo space, they give customers the ability to track their pet in real time.


The best policy when booking a flight is to call the airline. It is inadvisable to go in blindly, because of the fees and certain restrictions each carrier has set. Below are a few examples of how different the charges can be.
AirTran was bought out by Southwest Airlines. However, they still have their rules for flying with pets that differ from Southwest. Animals are not allowed in the cargo area. The carrier for the pet must be able to fit under the seat, and the animal must not be sick. There is a pet and carrier weight restriction of 40 pounds or less and the fee for the animal is $65 for one-way.

Allegiant – If flying within the mainland of the United States, pets may ride in the cabin with the passenger. Pets are not allowed out of the carrier, and there is a $100 fee for each way.

American Airlines – Each aircraft has its policy, however if a pet is allowed to ride in the cabin, it must be a small pet. The pet must be at least eight weeks old, be sickness free and in a carrier. A charge of $125 for carry-on pets will apply.

Delta – Depending upon the location, a pet to carry on, will cost between $75 and $250. Not all countries are permitted to have a pet in the cabin of the flight.

jetBlue – The pet may ride in the cabin, as long as, the pet carrier and pet does not exceed 20 pounds. There is a $100 one-way fee that is non-refundable.

Southwest – When traveling within the United States, pets may ride in the cabin, but they must be a small cat or dog. There is a $95 one-way fee for all pets.

Remember, call ahead to make sure pets are allowed, get all of the pertinent details so that planning the family vacation can be done without problems. Do not forget to sign up for frequent flyer miles and use them. Lastly, do not hesitate to ask for special accommodations when it comes to a service animal.