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Your dog’s airplane trip can be problem-free with the proper preparation ahead of time.

Whether it’s a vacation, a long-term business trip, an extended family visit or a long distance move, sometimes dog owners find themselves needing to take their pet along on an airplane trip.

This type of travel can be disorienting for your dog, for a number of reasons. Your pet will be separated from you, and will have no way of knowing if they’ll ever see you again. They will be confined to a crate and exposed to many confusing sounds and smells.

While planning your trip and making reservations, keep your pet in mind. Call the airline and ask them what the options are for your dog. If your dog is small enough that their kennel will fit under your seat, many airlines will allow this. Of course, most breeds don’t meet this size requirement.

For medium to large dogs, you have two options. You can check your dog’s carrier along with your other luggage so that he or she will be with you on the same flight in a separate cargo area or you can “ship” your dog like a package, unaccompanied by you, via the airline’s cargo system. Whichever option you choose, your dog will be comfortable throughout their flight in a cargo area designed for animals.

Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian. This health certificate should meet the requirements of your state or nation of destination, as well as your airline carrier. Be sure to check on the time restrictions.

Certificates often need to be obtained within 10 days of the flight. Carry the health certificate and your pet's vaccination certificates with you. If taking an international flight, find out if your pet will need to be quarantined at your destination. This will influence your decision to take your pet.

Don’t put food or water in your dog’s crate as it will only create a mess. Remember, your pet can go up to ten hours without food and water with no discomfort. You may want to provide dishes to be used in case of emergency, however.

Have your dog wear a collar, and attach a legible and accurate identification tag with complete information, the rabies vaccination tag, and a license tag. Double check that your dog’s ID tags are current and securely fastened to his collar. Also include a tag with a friend's address and phone number, since you will not be home to take any messages.

The kennel should be the right size, with space for your dog to be comfortable either sitting or standing, and with room enough for him to turn around.

Be sure the crate is well ventilated and sturdy. Check the door and the locking mechanism to make certain they function properly.

Placing a familiar toy or stuffed animal in the crate with your dog can also help make his airplane trip more comfortable.

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