Have a new pet that you are hoping to take home for the holidays with you?
The USDA requires all puppies to be at least 8 weeks old when traveling as this is the recommended minimum age for both air and road travel.
Making sure your pup is healthy, has the proper medical records, and is able to maintain good behavior during your trip is vital for a smooth traveling experience.
Making your pup comfortable and stress-free will help with any travel-related issues.
Is it safe for my puppy to fly?
Yes, it is safe for your puppy to fly at 8 weeks old for the most part. This is based on the USDA recommendations. Smaller puppies should weigh at least one pound before flying.
Before eight weeks, it is hard for pups to be independent.
They are fragile, and many dog trainers suggest the optimal age for flying is 8-9 weeks due to their fragility.
It’s also recommended to make sure your puppy is in good health and, of course, has the necessary vaccinations. The unique needs of the breed are important to keep in mind as well.
For example, short-muzzled breeds such as pugs, American bulldogs, and french bulldogs will need a crate with extra ventilation due to increased humidity and their problems breathing.
How to prepare for my puppy’s first flight?
Being a mindful pet owner means taking on the responsibility of flying with your puppy and preparing for the needs of the flight.
It is recommended to call the airline when booking your flight to let them know about your puppy for the reservation.
If you are flying your puppy home from their breeder, ask the breeder for a soft toy or blanket that smells like the pup’s mom to keep it from getting homesick.
This will help add comfort to the trip and be more independent. Offering your puppy treats to keep them calm can also help.
Most puppies are not potty trained at this age, so bringing portable pet pads with you can help to avoid accidents in their carriers or public places.
Sometimes airports have outdoor areas for smokers where you can take your pup out. So remember to bring a leash.
Continue reading below for other important things to keep in mind when flying with your puppy.
Look into airline policies for pets & dogs
Before booking your air tickets, make sure to check with your airline on their policy for bringing dogs onboard, as you will need to have this noted on the reservation.
Sometimes policies differ for small dogs vs big dogs– such as whether they will need to be in a carrier in the cabin or under the plane.
Some airlines do not even allow larger breeds or dogs above 20 pounds.
But in the case of your eight-week-old puppy, it is unlikely your puppy will exceed the limit.
Most puppies at 8 weeks will be under 25 lbs and able to be crated–and probably able to fly in the actual cabin with you.
Common airlines that allow dogs include JetBlue, United, SouthWest, and Delta.
These all allow pups to be in the cabin, although this usually comes with extra fees, sometimes up to $150.
Helping your pet with travel anxiety
Dogs get nervous just like us, and sometimes the stress of traveling can get to your new puppy.
Making sure your pup has comfortable bedding, food, and any other needs met is, of course, important when traveling.
Don’t feed your dog solid food for four hours before your trip to avoid crate accidents.
Of course, understand they may still happen on a long day of travel, and puppies should not be punished for this.
Keeping pet pads is recommended to allow your pup more freedom to use the bathroom.
Visiting the Vet
Ensuring your puppy has all the proper vaccinations is extremely important as they can develop diseases such as hepatitis, parvovirus, or rabies.
Puppies should have their vaccinations at least one month before traveling except their rabies vaccine, which they will get at three months old.
Puppies traveling internationally require a rabies vaccine which means they must be at least 16 weeks before entering the US.
If you decide to get your pup dewormed before flying, this must be done at least three days in advance.
Many airlines or certain destinations will require proof of vaccinations and other medical records.
Vet health certificates can also be issued days before travel, so make sure to check with your airline and your destination for more specific guidelines.
Some puppies traveling straight from the breeder may already have the needed information.
What’s the best way to travel with my puppy?
While questions regarding flying with your puppy are common, it is, of course, not the only way to travel with your new pup.
There are many advantages of flying with your puppy versus taking them on road trips and vice versa. Of course, it depends on the destinations one is traveling between.
Some trips, such as international travel, require more flying with pups than a road trip.
But for the most part, road trips can be easier for dogs as there are fewer people and restrictions to deal with.
While flying sometimes allows your dog a quicker experience, road trips allow for pit stops and the ability to use the bathroom easier.
Overall, road trips tend to be way less stimulating for our pups which can help decrease their travel nerves.
Road trips also give you and your new pup time together to increase the strength of your bond.
How to prepare for my puppy’s first road trip?
Prepping for your first road trip with your puppy is exciting. The USDA still recommends eight weeks minimum for traveling with your puppy.
But of course, it is more flexible with driving because you won’t be required to show any proof to airlines.
It is important to bring the essentials with you in case you run into any incidents on your trip with your new puppy. This includes:
Keeping your puppy hydrated is essential to prevent dehydration which also helps prevent liver and kidney problems.
Many pet retailers now make inflatable water bowls to take with you on the go. Your pup should be getting at least 1 cup of water a day.
Getting your pups the proper tags is a brilliant idea as you never know what can happen on the road.
There have been some incidents of new puppies being stolen, and having a location chip for your puppy is not a bad idea.
Puppies at eight weeks are also extremely new to the world and love to explore.
If they happen to run off during a stop on the trip, having their tags on is the easiest way of not losing them for good.
When crossing international borders, you will also need IDs, vaccinations, and medical records.
Puppy food and treats
While having a small amount of puppy food is always recommended just in case of emergencies or being stranded, surprisingly, it is best to avoid excessive feeding and treats on road trips.
It is recommended to stick to giving your dog only water during their car ride. This can help prevent car sickness and frequent bathroom stops.
Leash and Harness
Leashing your dog is required in many rest and recreational park areas that you may stop with your puppy. Many times, when fights, attacks, or violent incidents happen between dogs, it is because at least one was unleashed.
Keeping them on a leash actually protects them from potential larger dogs or other animals.
A harness is recommended because it holds your puppy more protectively and can prevent choking and pulling on the collar area.
Do puppies get motion sickness?
Surprisingly enough, it is pretty common for puppies to get motion sickness when driving and flying. Signs of motion sickness in your puppy can include vomiting, crying, whining, and drooling.
Motion sickness is similar to the same reasons it happens in humans, caused by an underdeveloped inner ear as the pup is still growing.
This causes balance issues that can lead to dizziness in their internal world.
Motion sickness can sometimes be caused by stress and digestion issues as well. Relieve stress by giving your dog a toy or bone to chew on and distract themselves with it.
Cerenia is a vet prescribed anti-nausea medication that owners can use for cases where their dog is severe.
Dramamine is a common over-the-counter medication for humans that can also be used in small amounts.
Make the traveling experience enjoyable
Whether you choose to go by land, air, or sea, traveling with your new puppy is always an experience.
Making sure your puppy has a comfortable and safe space set up for when you both get home is a good idea.
You will both be exhausted after a long day of traveling. This will help your pup acclimate to their new home easier as well.
The importance of being a responsible pet owner comes with taking the proper steps to ensure that your puppy’s needs are met while making the trip an enjoyable experience for both you and your pet.