Your dog is your best buddy, so why not take him with you to paradise? Key West has miles of sidewalk perfect for long walks together, plenty of salt water for playing in, and lots of dog-friendly outdoor seating. If you’re planning on taking your dog to Key West with you on vacation, here are some tips and hints regarding the best way to travel with your dog in-cabin.
1. Make sure your dog isn’t too big to fit comfortably under the seat.
Dog size is VERY important when deciding if you can bring him in-cabin on your flight. The airlines have strict regulations when it comes to the size of pet carriers. They must be able to fit underneath the seat in front of you comfortably in airline-approved pet carriers. Usually 14 lbs. is the largest allowed, but check with your airline. Each varies slightly.
2. Find the perfect dog carrier!
Airlines have requirements. The last thing you want to do is make your reservation and get to the airport and not be able to go on vacation. While each airline varies slightly, most require the carrier to be 16-19 inches long and about 10 inches tall. Don’t try to make your pup fit in a carrier that is too small for him; it could stress him out. Think about it. Do you want to fly somewhere feeling like a wrapped burrito? Neither does your dog. Your dog carrier is now your personal carry-on, so you need to pack accordingly to fit your other carry-ons in the above stowaway area.
3. Is your dog mellow or high-strung? It makes a difference.
Your dog must be well-behaved. If your dog whines when you go on car rides, chances are he will on an airplane too. If your dog already is high-strung, it might not be worth it to take your dog on vacation with you (to both your dog and yourself). You can find a few suggestions here.
4. Be prepared and pack your dog’s necessities.
As we all know, flights do get delayed and you want to make sure your dog has enough food, water, bones, treats and toys. Plan ahead. Pack a portable water bowl to avoid your pup dehydrating during a long delay.
5. Call the airline to let them know you’re traveling with your furry friend.
This is an important step. A lot of airlines only allow a certain amount of pets on each flight.
6. It costs to bring your dog on your flight.
Depending on the airline, your dog’s “seat” can cost $100-$250.
7. Get a copy of your dog’s health certificate.
Your dog cannot fly without a certificate of health from his/her vet. You have to prove that your dog is up to date on his/her vaccinations. You could also pick up something to aid in your pet relaxing on the flight, especially if it’s your pooch’s first time flying.
8. Carry Puppy Pee Pads.
Even the best trained dogs can have an accident when they are in an unfamiliar environment. I like to lay one at the bottom of the carrier and keep one out to take my dog to the restroom when traveling and there isn’t an approved doggy bathroom area.
9. Don’t feed your dog on the morning of travel.
Some dog experts also recommend taking away their water two hours before the flight. This will help avoid accidents coming from either end.
10. Exercise your dog before the flight.
It’s just a good idea to get your dog the extra exercise that he/she may not get the day of travel. It’s hard for them to be cooped up but an extra-long run or play the day before could be the key to a successful and stress-free trip.
11. Limit water while flying.
Carefully monitor your pup’s water intake on travel day. You don’t want his bladder uncomfortably full, nor do you want him/her to get dehydrated. If your dog likes ice, get some from the flight attendant to refresh your dog during long flights.
12. Pack a small blanket or a shirt that you’ve worn.
A blanket or article of clothing with your scent can keep your dog warm and feeling safe in an otherwise stressful environment.
13. Your dog is supposed to stay in the carrier.
Traveling pups have to stay in their carriers except when going through security. Airport personnel strictly enforce this, so don’t let your dog out where it’s not allowed.
14. Search online ahead for pet stations so you can plan for potty stops.
Usually it is only a small patch of fake grass, but it’ll have to do. If your layover allows you enough time, make sure that your pup has the chance to go pee in between flights to ensure for an accident-free and comfortable trip.
15. Doggy Xanax (mentioned in #7)
Nobody wants to give their dog a sedative, but he could get nervous with all the commotion, especially if it’s his first trip (and you don’t know how he will react). Just remember that there’s a flip side to sedating your dog: breathing problems, lethargy the next day (or longer), etc. Note that you should never give your dog any medication that’s not approved and dosed by your vet.
Traveling with your pup can be expensive and takes a lot of careful planning, but for many Key West visitors, it’s worth it to see their dog frolicking in the waves and enjoying the sunshine. Do your homework, prep your pup, and get ready to enjoy a dog-friendly Key West vacation.