If you’re a dog owner, it can often be difficult to leave your dog behind. Bringing your dog on vacation with you can be a rewarding experience for both you and your dog. You can both see new sights, meet new people, and have lots of great adventures together.

However, unless your dog is pint-sized, flying with large dogs can often be a difficult task. Aside from the fact that your dog may need to use the bathroom during the flight, different airlines have their own rules and regulations regarding the transportation of pets. The good news, however, is that the TSA has no problems with pets.

flying with a large dog

Today we’re going to take a look at everything that you need to know before flying with a large dog. It’s not impossible by any means, but there are several things that you should know beforehand.

Check With Your Airline First

Although the TSA allows pets of any size, your airline might have different rules. These rules are usually made in regards to safety and weight regulations, customers who have allergies, and general cabin space. In most cases, you will be able to bring your dog along via the cargo hold, but cabin rules are usually a lot stricter.

What To Expect at the TSA Screening

Some people put their dog crates on the little x-ray screening conveyor belt. The examiner is usually quite surprised when they see an entire four-legged skeleton pop up on their screen. This, however, is not necessary.

You will need to either carry or walk your dog through the metal detector. Sometimes the TSA agent will want to take a closer look at your dog, so make sure that they are well-trained and know how to behave around strangers.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that all dogs should be kept on a leash at the airport. Even if your dog is trained to behave while off the leash, they can often be startled, confused or have their curiosity peaked in a large airport full of new people and strange sights and smells. The TSA also performs standard walkthroughs with their K9 units. You don’t want your dog getting in the way of them.

Flying With Dogs in the Cabin

Most airlines have a general rule that dogs weighing over 40-pounds are not allowed in the cabin (always be sure to check with your airline, though). A lot of the time, however, they will make special exceptions for individuals who rely on a service dog. To qualify for these exceptions, you will need to provide written proof that the dog is indeed a service animal, and they will need to be well-behaved and trained.

a dog in a crate at airport

Some airlines do allow small dogs in their cabin though. They will need to be placed in crates both for their own safety and in consideration of the other passengers. That being said, make sure that your small dog is comfortable remaining in a crate for however long the duration of your flight is.

Dogs in the Cargo Hold

Airlines are usually far laxer when it comes to allowing dogs into the cargo hold. For people flying with large dogs, this is most likely the option that you will have to opt for. If your large dog is going to be checked into the cargo hold, then they will need to be screened by a TSA agent beforehand. They will usually ask you to briefly take your dog out on a leash, inspect the crate, and make sure that your dog appears normal. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes extra.

There are quite a bit of myths about dogs in the cargo hold, and bad things happening to them. Most of these, however, are not true and are rare occurrences that tend to affect dogs with pre-existing health problems affected by stress and altitude. If your dog is in good health, you should have nothing to worry about.

Selecting the Appropriate Crate

The final step before flying with your large dog is to select a good crate. You need to get one in which your dog can stand up straight in with room to spare, and also lay down with paws extended. In addition, you may also want to provide a urinary matt in case nature calls.

Final Thoughts

Flying with large dogs isn’t the impossible task that some people make it out to seem. Just remember to check your airline’s regulations, and make sure that your pet is up to the long flight. For the sake of your dog, you shouldn’t subject them to the stresses of flight if they aren’t well trained, are easily stressed, or have pre-existing medical conditions that could be made worse by flying conditions.

However, if you think that your large dog is up for the flight, then all you need to do is properly prepare. Make sure you know the regulations, arrive at the airport early for the extra TSA inspection, and ensure that your crate is up to standards.