How Much Does It Cost to Fly a Dog and How Safe Is It?

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Updated: August 1, 2022
© iStock.com/damedeeso
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As a pet parent, your dog is one of the most important considerations when you travel. In many cases, you can simply leave the dog in the care of a pet sitter or drop it off at doggy care or a friend’s house. However, this might not be practical in the case of a long-term trip or relocation. In cases like this, you’ll have to travel with your dog. As part of the preparation for a trip like this, you need to be familiar with the true cost to fly a dog.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, more than 2 million pets and other live animals travel by air each year. The true cost of flying for each of these pets goes beyond the actual cost of the flight. There are many other ancillary costs you have to put in mind. Even the flight cost itself may vary depending on the size of your dog, type of trip, and other factors. In this article, we will go over all of these factors to estimate the true cost to fly a dog.  

How Much Does It Cost To Fly A Dog?

Depending on various factors, traveling with your dog on a domestic flight may cost anything between $150 to $1,000. You may need a slightly larger budget than this for an international flight. The cost of such a trip depends on your specific pet, where you’re flying to, and the airline you’re flying with. 

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The fact is, it is impossible to give an exact estimate of how much it’ll cost to fly a dog without making a lot of assumptions. There are a lot of variables that can influence the total price of such a trip. So how exactly do you estimate how much it costs to fly a dog? We’ll explain some of the most important things to pay attention to below: 

Airline 

Each airline has specific policies that guide bringing pets onboard a flight. Some airlines have a strict “no pets allowed” allowed, while some only allow you to fly your pet in the cargo hold, which is always more expensive. 

There are specific weight restrictions for airlines that allow you to travel with your pet in the cabin. Usually, airlines do not transport dogs that weigh more than 15 pounds. Also, you have to keep the dog in a proper travel carrier throughout the trip. 

The cost of transporting a dog with you in the cabin is cheaper, but it also varies from one airline to the other. Delta Airlines, for instance, charges a fee of $125 for a one-way domestic flight. American Airlines and United charge the same amount, too, while El Al only charges $100 for dogs weighing 19.8 pounds or less. Note that these prices are subject to change, so you should ask for a specific quote from the airline you’re traveling with while planning your trip. 

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Domestic vs. International Flight

Naturally, you can expect to pay more to fly your dog internationally than for a domestic flight. International flights may also require more stringent paperwork peculiar to the specific region you’re traveling to, and you’ll have to get your pet vaccinated as well. 

Cabin vs. Cargo

Another major factor that determines how much it’ll cost to fly your pet with you is whether it is flying in the cargo area or with you in the cabin. The major factor that determines this is the size of the pup. The cost is significantly higher if your dog is flying in manifest cargo. It can cost as much as $1000 to fly your pet this way. Flying as checked baggage is easier (usually between $200 to $400), while you can budget between $50 to $250 for an in-cabin trip. 

Additional Costs to Keep in Mind 

In addition to the basic cost charged by the airline you’re traveling with, there are additional costs of transporting a pet that must be considered if you’re flying your dog: These include: 

The Cost of the Carrier

Airlines usually require you to purchase special, airline-compliant pet carriers if you’re traveling with a dog in the cabin. This can add between $30 to $250 to the initial estimate for your trip. 

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Additional Bag Fees

If your dog is riding in the cabin, you might have to pay for any other extra luggage you have that is above the weight limit. 

Veterinary Costs

As part of the preflight requirements when traveling with a pet, you’ll have to visit a vet to have your pet examined. Depending on the peculiarities of the situation, you may need to get your dog vaccinated or even pay for special medications for your furry friend. In addition to being necessary for your pet’s good, most airlines require you to get an up-to-date health certificate signed by a vet before allowing your pet on board the flight.

Microchip in Case Your Dog Is Lost

Although this is not compulsory, if you’re traveling with your dog, it is often recommended that you get it microchipped. This way, if it ever gets loose in a new area, you can easily find it. The average cost of having a microchip inserted in a dog is $45. 

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Is it Safe to Fly Your Dog?

The fact is, traveling with a pet comes with several risks. This is why the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) often recommend that you only travel with your pet if absolutely necessary. Otherwise, leaving your dog home with a sitter is a better alternative. 

Some of the risks typically associated with air travel for dogs include: 

  • Stress: Flying is an unusual situation for dogs, which can be very stressful for some dogs
  • Injury: dogs that are not familiar with traveling in a carrier or cage may attempt to escape from the cage, and this can lead to injuries in some cases. 
  • Escape: Although this rarely occurs, your dog can escape if you do not secure it properly during the trip. 
  • Death: In very rare cases, fatalities may occur during flights. 

Therefore, in addition to the cost of flying your dog, you also have to consider your pet’s safety in planning a trip. Some dog breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers are prone to respiratory distress in enclosed places. This makes flying even more stressful for them. Similarly, if your dog has any health problems, you might want to speak to a veterinarian about it before you put it on a plane with you. This includes both medical ailments and psychological or behavioral issues such as anxiety. 

Conclusion 

Traveling with a dog is typically stressful for both dogs and pet parents. If you intend to fly with your dog, you need to do your research about the true cost to fly a dog with you and all the other information you need to have about such a trip. In some cases, you may have to consider other alternatives such as driving to your destination, going on a train, or simply leaving your pet with a sitter if possible. Even if you can afford it, you should only travel with your dog when it is necessary.

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The Featured Image

Dog in airport terminal with ticket in its mouth, sunglasses, and a little suitcase
It's important to consider all the costs of flying with your dog.
© iStock.com/damedeeso

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

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