Airport Rules for Small Dogs

posted: 05/15/12
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Airport Rules for Small Dogs
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One of the best things about having a small dog is being able to take him with you wherever you go, including onto airplanes. These days, most major airlines allow dogs in passenger cabins, as long as they weigh in at about 15 to 20 pounds or less. There are still a few rules you'll have to follow, though, so before you head out for your flight, you'll want to take stock of some basic things.

For example, when flying with your dog, remember to keep his essential paperwork handy at all times. Sometimes called a pooch passport, this may include a recent health certificate and a special canine boarding pass issued from whichever airline you're flying. Before you head to the airport, be sure to find out exactly what paperwork the airline requires of their four-legged passengers. Once you have it all together, you should also put a copy of the pooch passport and your contact information in your dog's crate or carrier just in case you are separated from him for some reason.

According the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airports in the U.S. -- and most everywhere else -- require that dogs be kept in carriers or crates at all times. There is, however, one exception to this rule: passing through airport security. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations specify that when traveling with your pet, you'll have to remove him from his carrier and hold him as you walk through the metal detector. The carrier -- but never the dog -- will be put through the X-ray machine. And bear in mind that the screeners may ask to see your dog's boarding pass, so it's a good idea to keep that handy.

A lot of people have anxiety about passing through airport security based on small dogs' uncanny ability to wriggle free from even the tightest grip. If you're one of them, ask to have your dog screened in a private room. Virtually all airports have them, and it'll alleviate the risk of losing your beloved buddy.

One of the most important rules to remember when flying with your small pooch is that you won't be able to take him outside once you pass through security. That's why it's essential that your pup does his "business" before the flight. The best approach is to cut off his food and water about two hours before heading to the airport. Once you're there, be sure to take your dog out to the pet relief area -- most airports will have one -- before going through the security checkpoint. Follow these simple rules, and it'll be a bon voyage for you and your best furry friend.

- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "APHIS Guide to Traveling with Your Pets." U.S. Department of Agriculture. May 23, 2002. (Accessed April 8, 2011)

- Duncan, Phyllis Anne. "Traveling with Your Pet." FAAviation News. Federal Aviation Administration. Nov/Dec 2002. (Accessed April 8, 2011)

- Flicker, Denise. Dog owner. Personal communication. April 8, 2011

- Gerard, Tiffany. Dog owner. Personal communication. April 8, 2011

- Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Personal communication. April 8, 2011

- Transportation Security Administration. "Traveling with Pets." (Accessed April 8, 2011)

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