Shipping a Dog by Air

Shipping a Dog - Ground vs Air Transportation


Traveling today is very common. Many Americans are traveling more and more every year. But having a reason for shipping a dog doesn't necessarily have to do with making an around the world trip. It can be something as similar as going out of town for a short visit at a friend's place.

So maybe you’re moving house, visiting family or taking a well-earned holiday. It’s not just you who’s going to be well-traveled, and you probably want to bring along your little buddy too! I know I like taking my pooch everywhere I can, which is why knowing all the details about shipping a dog was very important to me.

We've talking about shipping pets before, but not as extensively. Between the costs, the practicalities and what’s best for your dog, choosing between ground and air transportation can be confusing. Both forms have pros and cons, and the best form of transportation for shipping a dog will depend on you and your pet's needs.

This simple dog shipping guide that I've made by researching the topic for myself will go over all the most important considerations when transporting your dog so that you can make the safest choice for your Fido. Please note that all price calculations are for a Labrador weighing 65lb travelling from Florida to Washington.

RELATED: How to Ship a Dog by Plane

Shipping a Dog: Ground vs Air Transportation

Shipping a Dog - Ground vs Air Transportation


Shipping a dog by air

Air travel is a convenient way for shipping a dog and is by far the fastest option when travelling great distances or overseas so your pet doesn’t have to be in transport for too long without you.

Prices for shipping a dog by air vary widely between airlines, starting at around $250 for a medium dog of 50-70lb weight all the way up to $800. This is the cargo price and doesn’t include the cost of your tickets or travel to and from the airport.

You can either have your dog travel as cargo, or some airlines will allow crated dogs into the cabin with you. Cabin flight is a far safer option and is highly recommended whenever possible.

Both the Humane Society and the ASPCA highly recommend avoiding flying your dog in the cargo hold unless absolutely necessary, as it does pose a small risk due to stress, temperature fluctuations and injuries and accidents.

If you would like your dog to travel in-cabin with you, call the airline as soon as possible to see if it is an option because they tend to only have limited spaces for animals in the cabin.

RELATED: Dog Travel Tips – How to Vacay With Your Pet

Remember that your dog's crate needs to be airline-approved, otherwise it cannot go onto the plane.

With both cabin and cargo flight options, check with the airline before flying what you need to provide them.

Usually, you will need to bring a dog kennel or crate. Choose a dog crate one that is roomy enough that your dog can stand, turn and lie down comfortably.

You will need to have your dog wear a dog collar with identification tags and a very reliable dog leash; take a photo of your dog with your contact information on the back. Depending on the airline, you may also need to bring a little dog food in a bag in case of flight delays and some frozen water in a plastic dish.

Before being allowed to fly across any borders, your dog must be in good health. Consult the airline you’re flying with and check the regulations for the state or country you will be travelling to and see what documentation you need for transporting your dog.

RELATED: Airline Approved Dog Crates and Carriers

Shipping a Dog by PlaneEnsure all documents are accurate and up-to-date, and that your dog has been vaccinated for whatever is necessary, otherwise the airline may prevent your dog from travelling.

As a general rule, most airlines will want current health and your dog's vaccination certificates stamped or signed by a vet within the last month.

If you and your dog are moving overseas, allow plenty of time before your trip to contact the country’s consulate and find out what their requirements are for bring in dogs from your country. Some countries will require the dog to be put into a long quarantine.

Ground travel may be preferable to transport by air if during the flight you will be travelling through any temperature extremes. For example, if you are flying from Texas to Alaska, airlines may not allow it due to your dog’s safety.

Keep in mind that certain airlines flying to hot states such as Arizona will not allow dogs to fly with them in peak summer months to prevent the chance of overheating.

RELATED: 10 Items You Need When Traveling with Dogs

Finally, some dogs are not eligible to travel by air. If they are less than 8 weeks old or very elderly, ill or injured, aggressive, or unused to being in dog crates they may not be able to fly.

Shipping a dog chart
Image: LifeHacker

Some airlines may also put restrictions on certain dog breeds travelling with them. Snub-nosed breeds are at higher risk of respiratory problems which can cause overheating during air flight and very small or toy breeds are most vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and tend to be more anxious.

It is advisable that any of the breeds listed below, cross-breeds with snub noses or toy breeds be transported by ground:

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog
  • Bullmastiff
  • Bull Terrier
  • Cane Corso
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chihuahua
  • Chow Chow
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • English Mastiff
  • French Bulldog
  • Japanese Chin
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Newfoundland
  • Pekingese
  • Presa Canario
  • Pug
  • Shar-Pei
  • Silky Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Yorkshire Terrier

RELATED: Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

Shipping a dog via ground transportation

Shipping a Dog by Car

Shipping a dog by ground is a far better option if you don’t have far to go and are staying in the country. It may also be less stressful for your pet as many ground pet services can pick up your dog from your home or a collection point nearby, and there are no long waiting times for check-in and boarding as there is with air travel.

Many companies will even offer a door-to-door service so there is no need to have your dog be moved from plane to transport several times. Transport by ground is also often less restrictive in the dog breeds that can travel.

The major advantage of shipping a dog by ground travel is that the vehicle can be stopped at regular intervals or in case of any problems or emergencies.

Again, prices are variable but many websites will offer personalized quotes. Rates from Florida to Washington, as in our example, would start at around $1000 door-to-door inclusive of cargo costs.

Although at a first glance it may seem much more expensive than shipping a dog by plane, air travel also requires other transport costs to and from the airport and many additional fees. Thus if travel by ground and by air are equally good options for you and your dog, it’s worth breaking out the calculator and working out what the best deal is.

Of course, if you are travelling with your dog by car, your pet can always be with, which is the major perk! That way you can keep him company (and he will keep you company!) and make sure he stays in good spirits.

RELATED: Five Best Dog Travel Crates for Long Trips

Shipping a Dog via Ground Transport

When shipping a dog by car, allow for plenty of rest stops and a chance for the dog to stretch his legs and he will feel much less upset by the whole travelling experience.

You may still need some doggy documents if you’re crossing state lines. Make sure all your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, too. At least a month before you leave, check what vaccinations are needed for your destination state in case your dog needs boosters.

When transporting a dog by car, keep them crated until you come to a break stop, otherwise you could risk an accident.

RELATED: Traveling With Your Dog for Thanksgiving

The downsides of shipping a dog by ground are that can take far longer, up to several days if your origin and destination are thousands of miles apart. It’s also not an option if you want to travel overseas.

Dog air travel is often more convenient if you are also flying, but it is restrictive in the breeds and condition of the pets they carry and it can be a very overwhelming and stressful experience for the dog.

Travelling with your dog by ground is usually the safer option but can be troublesome if travelling long distances and isn’t an option for overseas travel. Whichever form of travel and for shipping a dog you opt for in the end, make your dog’s health and happiness the top priority.

RELATED: 5 Best Car Seats for Dogs

Reannan has enjoyed the companionship of dogs her whole life. She bred, raised and showed cocker spaniels for a while but has owned a variety of different types of dogs, ranging from bulldogs to mutts. She worked in the private sector for 30 years. Now she devotes her time to writing and sharing knowledge about dog ownership and care.