An increasing number of pet owners are taking their dogs with them when they travel by car or airplane rather than leaving them behind. On a day to day basis, there may be some places where your dog may accompany you, whether you are visiting friends, going to work, or taking the dog to the groomer, veterinarian or doggy day care. On the other hand, it is not always practical to take your dog with you; at these times, you may have to take your pet to a boarding kennel.
Dog Acting Weird After Flying
Dogs can be weird at the best of times, and maybe your pooch pride and joy isn’t displaying any signs of heat exhaustion or hypothermia, but they’re just acting… weird (especially after their first time on a plane).
It’s a strange situation for a dog to find themselves in, and they don’t know what the heck is happening, so when your dog is acting weird after a flight, it’s probably just a bit of stress.
How would you know if your dog is experiencing stress?
Sure, some of the signs of a stressed dog might be perfectly normal for your pup, but you’re going to know when their usual weird behavior becomes unusual weird behavior.
If your dog is not usually stressed out, they will likely return to normal by themselves (a sleep really helps). Giving them a calm environment immediately after a flight and then quickly returning them to their normal daily routine can also help.
You might feel a little bit stressed out yourself after a flight, and if you changed time zones, it’s important to get yourself back to your regular sleeping pattern as soon as you can.
Flying can be physically and mentally draining, and it’s the same for your dog (all these unfamiliar people and smells and stimulation!).
So if your dog needs to sleep after a plane ride, even more than usual, don’t be worried, because they just found the whole experience a bit exhausting.
Can Dogs Get Sick from Flying?
If you planned to take a large dog on a flight with Delta, you would be out of luck for a lot of the year. Delta actually refuses to take dogs (or any animal) in their cargo hold from May 15 to September 15.
There are also some winter restrictions when flying with a dog in the cargo hold to selected destinations, and there are some additional temperature restrictions which can be applied at any time of the year.
But why is this the case? Why would a major airline refuse to allow a dog in their cargo hold if the day of travel is going to be 20°F or colder, or 80°F or warmer? This is to avoid two serious problems that a dog can experience after traveling in the cargo hold.
It’s not just the heat inside the cargo hold that can be a problem when a dog flies in warm weather. They’re not only in their crate for the flight, but also before and after, and basically up until you leave the airport.
Airline staff will do their best to load your dog onto the plane as quickly and carefully as they can, but your dog is going to be on the tarmac during transit, often in direct sunlight.
These are the reasons why there are summer restrictions to flying with a dog in the cargo hold, although a dog can still be affected by heat exhaustion despite these restrictions.
Heat exhaustion can result in a dangerous level of dehydration, and can lead to serious kidney damage. What should you be looking out for after a flight?
There are some key signs of heat exhaustion in dogs:
Cool your dog down immediately, using cool water (not cold water, because this can be too much of a shock to their system) and contact your vet. Your dog might need medical attention. Be sure to tell your vet that your dog has recently flown.
Hypothermia is at the other end of the scale from heat exhaustion, but this is the reason why there are temperature restrictions for flying with a dog in the cargo hold during cold weather.
Not only will it be very cold inside the plane, but you have to think of your dog being outside in the cold weather as they’re being loaded and unloaded. Make sure the crate has a thick blanket for warmth (and comfort) when flying with your dog during the colder months.
What are some signs that your dog might be suffering from hypothermia after a flight?
The symptoms are actually quite similar to heat exhaustion:
Your dog will also feel cold to the touch (both their skin and fur).
This all means that they will need to be warmed up (wrapped in a warm blanket, using hot water bottles and heating pads if needed), and this all needs to happen in a warm room.
Get in touch with your vet, because an immediate appointment might be needed. Again, be sure to tell your vet that your dog has recently flown.
With the dangers of heat exhaustion and hypothermia in dogs, it’s not exactly surprising that an airline will place restrictions on your dog flying in the cargo hold when the temperature is too extreme.
These restrictions won’t apply when your dog is small enough to fly in a pet carrier in the cabin.
According to him, this carrier did not meet the airline’s standards. I showed him a spare DIY carrier I had fashioned by cutting the sides off of a soft duffle bag and adding netting, but this one was no good either. After about 20 minutes of him failing to find a manager and my rambling he reluctantly let us through but warned we might be stopped again before boarding our flight.
6. Check all the correct paperwork is in order and you know how to identify it.
Luckily we weren’t. Once we boarded the flight I had to put Levi in the soft carrier for takeoff. Since the flight was so long I was able to switch him to the hard carrier and place it underneath my seat. Levi was quiet and relaxed the entire trip up until the last hour. The final meal came around and he could smell the chicken. He went berserk. A total yapping, whining fit for about 10 minutes straight. Like any good parent I put on my best confused face and attempted to hide the fact that the barking chaos was coming from inside my denim jacket. Dogs aren’t allowed out of their carrier and now I know why. Once they’re out there’s really no getting them to go back.
Despite all the frustration in my quest to bring Levi home with me, I learned some valuable tips for the next time I decide to travel with a pup. Here are some ways to make your trip as stress-free as possible:
After all that nonsense we were finally home! Even though the journey had its ups in downs, in the end it was all worth it. Levi is now a proud Greek American who would love to run a gyro stand if I ever let him (which I won’t because…he’s a dog).
How do you take care of a dog after a long flight?
How long does jet lag last in dogs?
How do airplanes affect dogs?