Taking your dog with you on long trips can be a good bonding experience. It can also be stressful for you, your family members, and your dog. There are several ways to mitigate that stress though. The main way is to educate yourself and be prepared.
Remember to book early. Check that your dog can be on the flight before buying your ticket. Try and book a direct flight to minimize the hassle to you and stress on the dog. Make sure all the dog's vaccinations are up to date and obtain a health certificate. Some airlines require it.
For international travel, make sure you follow any additional guidelines for the country you're visiting. Purchase a soft-sided carrier for dogs that can be in the cabin, hard-sided for those traveling in the cargo hold. Write your dog's name on the carrier and attach tags with a phone number and address where you can be reached.
Also, carry a current photograph of your pet in case you’re separated. Feed your dog four hours before the flight, give him water up until the flight, and leave the dishes if he's traveling in the cargo hold. Employees can feed him if there's a delay.
Don't give your dog tranquilizers because they can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems at high altitudes. If a veterinarian decides he needs them, write the name of the drug and the dosage taken on a tag. When you land, take your dog for a long walk. That way, he can relieve himself and get comfortable in his new surroundings. Above all, have fun!
Check your airline's website for updated guidelines on traveling with your dogs because they change, oftentimes without notice.
Alaska Airlines/Horizon Airlines allows small dogs in the cabin as well as the cargo area. They may not be allowed in the cargo area during some winter months. US Airways allows small dogs in the cabin, but none in the cargo area. The dog, and the carrier, has to weigh 20 pounds or less. Six pets are allowed per flight.
Frontier Airlines allows dogs in the cabin, but not in the cargo area. The kennel has to be able to fit under either an aisle or center seat. United Airlines allows dogs in the cabin as well as in the cargo area. American/American Eagle does as well. Dogs in the cabin can't weigh more than 20 pounds and those in the cargo area can't weight more than 100. They can't be flown to the UK and can't be in the cabin on flights to Hawaii.
Air Canada allows them on domestic flights both in the cabin and in the cargo area. The dog, and kennel, has to weigh 20 pounds in the cabin and 70 pounds in the cargo area. Jetblue allows dogs in the cabin up to 20 pounds including kennel. They aren't allowed in the cargo area. Four pets are allowed per flight.
Delta Airlines allows them both in the cabin and cargo areas up to twenty and one hundred pounds respectively. Four pets are allowed per flight no matter where they are. Southwest Air allows dogs in the cabin up to 10 pounds not including the kennel and not in the cargo area. They have to be able to fit under the seat.
Virgin America allows them in the cabin up to 20 pounds including the kennel and not at all in the cargo area. You must provide proof of up to date vaccinations.