Help the flying dog.
June 25, 2008 12:50 AM   Subscribe

In a few months, my (former) dog is going to be flying from California to the UK in the cargo hold. How can this be made as safe and comfortable for him?

My sister is moving to England for a few years, and she's bringing her dog, our former family pet, with her. He's a beagle and on the the large side for a beagle, somewhere around 30 pounds. There's no way she's going to be able to convince airlines to let him in the cabin.

So, the cargo hold it is. I've read this and this and am still concerned about the potential damage from a ten-hour flight. (This is out of her price range.)

He's healthy and usually genial, but he's also thirteen years old and has been traumatized in the past by being left in a kennel for a couple of days while our family moved. That was when he was five, and he's long since gotten over his separation anxiety and is able to stay peacefully at home without thinking he's been abandoned while people leave for the day. A plane's cargo hold, though - that seems like a terrifying place for a dog. Or am I just building it up in my head?

Does anyone have any tips to ensure his physical and psychological health during this massive flight? Other than getting him used to the kennel he'll be in when he flies (which my sister is doing) and following the tips in the above-linked articles, what can be done?

I realize I may very well be looking for a silver bullet here and should just face the fact that flying is just always going to be horrible for dogs that don't fit in shopping bags, but hey, a few problems really do have silver bullets, it doesn't hurt to look, right?
posted by ignignokt to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've moved my cats multiple times between continents. They can barely handle an outside door being open, so the trips never go over well. There's not a lot you can do.

I tend to put in some t-shirts as lining, just so that they've got my familiar smell. Anything that you've worn a lot and don't mind getting piddled on will do. I don't know if there's a canine version of Feliway, but its supposed to help calm encounters with new smells.

The quarantines I think are worse, and I don't have much else to suggest besides the familiar-smelling material. I've heard the UK rules on pets are pretty draconian.
posted by FuManchu at 1:40 AM on June 25, 2008

Have sister make a visit to the vet prior to the trip. He can a) make suggestions and b) potentially prescribe medication to keep the dog zonked out for the trip.

We used to have a great German Shep at my parents' place who would literally freak out and jump through windows on the 4th of July b/c of the sounds of the fireworks, so every year we'd get him all pilled up prior to that evening. I'd imagine its something similar that could help your family friend.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:24 AM on June 25, 2008

Well you have to go to the vet first, because there is a lot of shots and paerwork that must be done prior to the flight. It's a pretty strict regiment, so the sooner you get it started, the better.

DON'T use drugs for the pup. Its great for the beginning of the flight, but when the drugs wear off and but the dog has little to no control of their body, they can freak out. It's really unhealthy.

The best thing to do is to buy the largest airline crate allowed by your airline. That's what we did. And about 3 or so months before you fly, get the dog used to sleeping in the crate overnight. Make it real comfortable, and leave the door open all of the time. Eventually the dog will go in there without being asked as it will be a comfortable secure place for him/her.

The vet will give guidelines, but you should time his last eating/drinking so he goes right before getting into the plane. You don't want him having to hold it for that long on the flight.

We flew our year and half puppy from NY to Finland like this and she was just fine. A little stressed out, but all in all she was in great shape on the other end. Getting her used to the crate early on was the major key to the success.

Any questions, feel free to write.
posted by wile e at 2:49 AM on June 25, 2008

Oh and as long as you follow all of the guidelines, as far as the shots and the microchip as directed by your vet, there will be no quarantine.
posted by wile e at 2:53 AM on June 25, 2008

The dog needs to have a blood test 6 months before entering the UK. Has this been done yet? If not, and if 'a few months' is less than six, the dog could be going to quarantine.

See Defra for details on importing a dog to the UK.

I brought my dog from the US to the UK. She handled it fine, but I had a direct flight from the east coast, and I was separated from her for about 24 hours. From California, I'm sure it will be much longer.

Good luck to you. Feel free to memail with any specific questions.
posted by happyturtle at 3:25 AM on June 25, 2008

Happyturtle obviously knows the score. The UK is very serious about this. People get in trouble for breaking the rules, even the rich and famous.
posted by galaksit at 6:26 AM on June 25, 2008

This dog is 13 years old, I would be highly concerned as to whether or not it could survive the trip. Can you take it?
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:03 AM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: Yup, the dog has had his blood test, shots, and microchipping.

It's good to hear the anecdotes of relatively smooth trips from you guys.

RZA: That's exactly my concern. I'm trying to find out the likelihood of problems or death. I guess that's something the vet could tell us.

I don't think I'd be able to convince her to give him up, as she's even more attached to him than I am, unless there was a serious risk of death or damage.
posted by ignignokt at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2008

california to the uk is a really really really long flight for an older dog to be in the cargo hold, especially if he's never flown before—and then he'd still have to go through all the customs/quarantine, which will be extra stressful. also if she flies in the summer or early fall, it might be too hot in california (and therefore the tarmac) for the airlines to even accept him to fly in the first place.
posted by lia at 1:23 PM on June 25, 2008

« Older Water well and propane heating   |   Flavored iced tea suggestions? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.