Planning on traveling with your dog? Air travel has never been more accessible and it’s becoming safer and easier for pets, too. Whether it’s Fido’s first flight or fiftieth, knowing the rules before you head to the airport can save you both a lot of hassle.
Health Certificates/Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for Your Dog
The most important and wide-reaching certification you need to be aware of is known as a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). Sometimes referred to as a “health certificate,” A CVI is essentially a document signed by a licensed veterinarian who has recently examined your dog to inspect for diseases and overall health. A few important notes about CVIs:
CVIs may be required by the airline you’re flying with (or another transit provider, such as a rental car company or train line) AND/OR by your destination state. Some states, like California, do not require a CVI for a dog to enter, and others waive the requirement under certain conditions. Most states do require visiting dogs to have a CVI on hand. Even if your destination state doesn’t require a CVI, your airline still might.
traveling to/from on the US Department of Agriculture website.
CVIs may be taken and held during travel so it’s a good idea to bring at least three hard copies with you
Additional Travel Certificate(s) for Your Dog
There are additional certifications you need to be aware of before traveling with your dog. First, know that most states – even those that don’t require a CVI – DO require any visiting or resident dogs to have a rabies vaccination. There is no need to travel with a specific “rabies form,” but check with your vet to ensure your dog’s electronic vaccination records are up to date.
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Some airlines now require what is called an Acclimation Certificate. These official documents only pertain to dogs who will travel in the cargo hold of a plane (i.e. dogs that won’t travel in the cabin of the plane with their owners.) Much like a CVI, an Acclimation Certificate is a signed statement from a vet who has recently examined your dog. They essentially state that not only is the dog in good health, but that he will be able to safely acclimate to the temperature shifts under a plane. There are very strict limits in place for airlines regarding the amount of time cargo dogs can spend at very cold or very warm temperatures.
Be sure to check with your airline directly to find out what kind of documentation they require.
Dog Air Travel: Must Knows
Always contact your airline a few weeks in advance of your flight to let them know you’re bringing a pet. Certain airlines have stopped allowing pets to travel in the cargo hold for liability reasons; others disallow pet travel during particularly hot/cold months.
Dogs should never travel on a plane if they are…
- Under 8 weeks old (this is, in fact, a USDA regulation)
- Prone to respiratory issues (common in brace brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs)
- Ill or have recently been immune-compromised by illness
- Aggressive or short-tempered when they are anxious
Each airline has specific requirements for what kind of carrier may be used on or under the plane. In addition, every airline has rules regarding what kind of animals can travel in the aircraft cabin, from species to size. From there, airlines have even more rules in place about where a dog can sit during flight (in his owner’s lap vs. in a carrier under the seat).
These, of course, are just the legal and commercial requirements to know for doggy air travel. Ask your dog’s vet what you can do and bring to make your dog comfortable for his flight.