Tips When Traveling With A Small Dog

I was hesitant about posting this on BBB, as I don’t typically do pet centered posts. But over Christmas, my husband and I flew several thousand miles with our eleven pound maltipoo and it turns out that the cost of bringing him with us was far less than if we had boarded him here in San Diego. Because of the cost savings, I thought it might be helpful to some of you to share our experience of flying with our little furry friend.

Over Christmas, we spent about two weeks in Alabama with my family. Several months before our trip, my parents mentioned that they would love for us to bring Bartlett with us. I was really hesitant about the whole thing because Bartlett is a pretty energetic dog and tends to bark if he sees other dogs around.

After doing a bit of research, comparing the cost of boarding him versus flying, and speaking with our vet, we decided to pull a lever and bring him! Here are a few items to think about if you are considering flying with a small dog.

Speak With The Airline.  Each airline has different weight and carrier requirements for pets traveling in cabin. We traveled with United this trip and since Bart is under fifteen pounds, he was able to be in a mesh travel bag and placed under the seat during flight. I called the airline about a month before departure, gave them his weight, and paid for both the outgoing and returning flights over the phone. One thing to keep in mind: unless your pet is a certified “comfort” or service animal, they have to remain in their travel bag, under the seat at all times.


Visit Your Vet A Few Days Before Departure.  If you’re flying with a dog, you have to have a certificate of health with you during the trip. I took Bart to our vet a couple days before traveling. Our vet did a simple check up and issued a certificate within twenty minutes. I also spoke with him about getting a mild sedative for Bart as his energy level is usually high. He gave me two acepromazine pills and told me to give him half of one pill a couple hours before heading to the airport. If Bart was stressing out further, he said I could give him the other half. But Bart was a champ! We didn’t need the other half of the pill.

Don’t Feed Your Pet The Night Before If Flying Early.  This is especially important if you have a layover. You don’t want your dog to have to hold his bowels for eight or more hours. Our flight was in the afternoon, so after Bart ate dinner the night before we put his bowls away and didn’t feed him breakfast. We let him have a bit of water before boarding each of our planes so he wouldn’t become dehydrated.


Bring Small Treats.  We dealt with several delays during our trip. To keep Bart busy during the delays, I stuffed a couple treats into his KONG toy. This kept him busy while we were waiting and put a little something in his belly.

I was really worried that traveling with a dog would be stressful for both us and our pet. But Bart did great! I would definitely travel with him in the future.

I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have any other pet traveling questions I can answer.

If you’d like to see more from my trip, here’s a vlog of our Christmas in Alabama:

Stay bougie!