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Travel Airplane

Traveling with a Chihuahua on an Airplane

Overview

It's time for vacation! But wait a minute, what about your Chihuahua? If you are planning on taking a vacation in which you will be flying, you will most certainly ask yourself if you should take your Chihuahua on a plane with you. You will want to plan well in advance, since there are many elements that will come into play.

What is Your Destination?

If you are wondering if you should take your Chihuahua on an airplane with you, you should think about where you will be going. While it is most definitely understandable that you will not want to leave your dog at home, you must think about whether your vacation plans will make your dog happy.
Passenger jet airplane
Image courtesy of nitinut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net  
If you will be staying at a hotel, you should call ahead and be sure that pets are allowed. Some hotels will allow a dog if under 25 pounds (11.34 kg). However, many hotels will not allow pets of any type. You may ask the clerk for recommendation of pet friendly accommodations and your travel agent may be able to help as well.

Aside from where you will be sleeping, you must consider what you will be doing during the day time. If your activity will involve a lot of walking, your Chihuahua will not be able to take that type of excessive exercise.

While you can place your Chi into a canine stroller unless you plan to buy one when you arrive or a friend/ family member who lives at the destination has one that you can borrow, you would need to transport it on the airplane; which is not viable in many cases due to its size.
Another option is to keep your Chi in a shouldered canine sling; however you will only want to consider that if your dog has proven that he tolerates being carried that way and that your activities will allow for this.

If the plane is going to bring you to an area with hot weather, a Chihuahua will not be able to handle lots of time in the beating sun. In addition, if you will be going to amusement parks and other places where a dog logically will not be happy, you should consider leaving him home in loving hands.

If You Decide To Take Your Chihuahua On a Plane

When you bring your dog on an airplane there are some elements that you must be aware of. If you do not plan this out, your Chihuahua's crate (with him or her in it) may be treated equal to a bag of luggage placed under the plane in the cargo hold. This is a dangerous place for pets; in some cargo holds temperature is not regulated and additionally, you will not have access to your dog throughout the entire flight.

Here are some tips to make flying on an airplane with your Chihuahua safe and happy:

1) Call the airline in advance to make sure that they allow small pets in carriers to be brought along into the passenger section of the plane. Ask for specific measurements for the maximum size of the crate. The sizing is for how big the area under the seat in front of you is, as that is where your Chi will be placed.

Planes are usually very strict in this area; if they tell you that they will not accept a crate higher than 15 inches and your Chihuahua's crate is 16 inches, the airline will have a right to deny your dog onto the plane.

In the hypothetical case of this unexpectedly happening, we would strongly suggest refusing to fly finding alternative means of traveling.
Chihuahua with suitcase
Pancho, 5 years old 
Photo courtesy of owner Louis Duke 
2) Depending on the airline, you may need to provide a signed veterinarian health certificate (usually dated no more than 10 days from the day of the flight)

3) You will need to remove your Chihuahua from his crate as you pass through security checkpoints. Plan for this by having his leash ready so that he cannot scramble away. 

4) If you plan ahead and are certain you can bring your Chihuahua on the plane, you must keep your dog in its crate for the entire flight. If your Chihuahua is not used to being in a crate, begin training your dog at least 2 months in advance. 

Keeping this in mind, think about how long the flight will be. If longer than 4 hours, you may wish to consider a lay over with plenty of time to bring your dog outside of the airport to stretch his legs and eliminate before boarding the next flight.

5) Since your dog will be confined during the entire flight, unfortunately there is not a good alternative to having your Chi eliminate in the crate. You may wish to consider a dog diaper. These are most often used for senior dogs that have difficulty holding their bladder or bowels; however this may work well for a dog that must be in a crate for a long time. The other passengers will thank you! 
Alternatively, you can line the cage with newspaper or pee-pads and bring along enough to reline the crate several times.
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