How to Ship a Dog

How to ship a dog. You’ve decided to relocate, but you want to move your beloved pet with you. There are a few basic things to keep in mind when you investigate how to ship a dog. Not only are there certain legal regulations to be aware of, you also need to keep your pet’s health in mind.

Considering Air Transportation

Not all dogs can travel by air. When you are shipping a dog in the cargo bay of an airplane, it exposes your dog to a lot of stress. You should only ship a healthy and well-behaved dog by air.


Do not ship your dog if it is:

  • Less than 8 weeks old
  • Elderly
  • Injured or ill
  • Is a pug or “snub” nosed breed
  • Shows aggression towards strangers
  • Is not used to being crated

Handy information: if you are considering relocating from the United States to an international country, you can make sure you fulfill all the requirements to move your dog with you. Read more about how to ship a dog from the United States

Before Your Dog Travels

When figuring out how to ship a dog, you need to begin by training your dog for the long trip. Your dog will travel as cargo on a flight. This means that your dog will be in its kennel for an extended time, so prepare your dog to be caged up in its kennel.

Start with short stretches of caged times and slowly build it up to longer times. You want your dog to build a positive association with the kennel. It will be your dog’s little safe haven in a strange, unfamiliar space when it’s all alone.

Before you decide upon a method of how to ship a dog, visit your vet for specific advice for your dog. A check-up just before the move is also crucial. Your vet can also give you a letter verifying your dog is in tip-top shape and ready for the big move. If the vet has any concerns about moving your dog, take these into consideration and don’t just insist on relocating your dog if it will be putting your pet in danger.

Documentation You Need to Have

When finding out how to ship a dog with a specific airline, you need to adhere to their standards and requirements. A move across country is less complicated than overseas. But most airlines will require health and vaccination certifications, regardless of how far your pet will be travelling.

The documents need to be provided and signed by a professional, licensed veterinarian. These documents need to be up to date, check with the specific airline to make sure you don’t get into trouble for providing outdated information.

If you are travelling across country in the United States, the state you are travelling to might also have specific documentation requirements. Check that you have everything ready before booking your dog on the flight.

Supplies You Will Need

When investigating the process of how to ship a dog, you firstly have to invest in a good kennel. Your dog needs to be able to move around freely inside, it should be able to stand up and turn around, with enough space to lie down comfortably. If you are travelling with a small dog, you could take into the main cabin, but the kennel or dog carrier has to be able to fit under the airline chair.

Make sure your dog is tagged with a collar and ID tags. Pack in a leash as well. Depending on the length of the trip and the airline’s regulations, you can pack a small bag of food, plus a dish with frozen water. Attach a picture of your dog with contact information to the outside of the kennel.

Arriving At the Airport

Add extra time to your trip to make sure you have ample time for the booking process. Usually you can check in about three hours before flight departure. You will need to take your dog to the cargo area of the airport. But make sure to check with the specific airline for their pet booking procedures.

Make sure you have all the relevant documentation with you. If there are any special needs or feeding instructions, convey them to the airline. As a precaution, you can also write these down and attach them to the outside of the kennel.

Tip: Don’t feed your dog for at least 6 hours before the flight. This will prevent an upset tummy as well as reduce the chances of your dog urinating during the flight.

In case of an emergency, make sure that you inform the personnel on the airplane that you are travelling with your dog. This way they will be able to reunite you with your beloved pet if something bad happens.

How to Ship a Dog: An Alternative to Air Transport

If you are only moving across the country, there are alternative shipping methods available that might be cheaper and less stressful for your dog. Courier companies shipping dogs:

Don’t just settle on the first company you find, compare prices and services from a few different courier companies to make sure you get the best deal. When investigating how to ship a dog you need to keep your specific dog’s needs and temperament in mind.

To Sedate or Not

Some airlines are very strict and will refuse to transport your dog if it looks heavily sedated. Certain sedatives can negatively affect the dog and this is dangerous when more than 10 000 miles up in the sky. Remember, breathing is more difficult at high altitudes.

If you want to rather transport your dog by land, then you can consider a sedative because it might be a very long trip. Again, make sure you check with your veterinarian beforehand as well as the courier company you are using.

By preparing your dog with kennel training, it will be much calmer and easy to manage. Rather consider a natural sedative if you still feel concerned that your dog will be traumatized by the experience. You could also try to keep your dog awake for a period of time before the flight, so that it will fall asleep more easily on the trip.

If Your Dog Needs To Urinate During the Flight

Your dog might pee because of getting frightened or it might just naturally happen if it’s a very long trip. Make sure you prepare the kennel for the worst case scenario by lining the bottom with a thick layer of paper. Try including bedding that will dry easily when absorbing urine.

Handy Links: How to Ship a Dog. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has created a standardized system of rules and regulations when transporting animals, as well as a convenient Animal Transport Check List