Sometimes, leaving our pet at home is not a choice. It could be finally relocating to a new place or taking an extended vacation at your family house a few hundred miles away. If petsitters are not an option and you prefer the peace of knowing your Shiba is safe with you, then you have to prepare to fly with it.
There are two ways to go when flying with your Shiba Inu. One, it could be an enjoyable trip you’ll never forget, or two, a stressful and exhausting flight you’ll also never forget.
But what’s important is your Shiba is safe and secure during the plane ride and as a responsible dog owner, there are several things you need to know and do.
What You Need to Know when Flying with a Shiba Inu
For first-time fur parent travelers, flying out with a dog can be overwhelming. There are rules and regulations to look out for, extra costs to cover, and the anxiety-inducing thought of ‘is it safe?’
True, it’s more complicated and expensive than flying pet-free and there are a lot of factors to consider. But it is doable, as long as you do your research and is well-informed.
Here, we’ve listed what you need to know about flying with your Shiba Inu.
Check airline requirements
If you’ve decided to fly with your Shiba Inu, it is best to reach out to your airline and ask for their policies regarding pets on flights. Different airlines have different requirements so you must narrow down to which airline suits you and your pet’s needs first before you even book a ticket.
There will be restrictions on the size, breed, and age, and what carrier or crate is allowed inside the plane. Some airlines only allow limited pets on a flight so it is best to make a reservation as soon as you can.
There are two ways you can fly with your pet: In-cabin or cargo.
The general rule is if your dog in its carrier can fit in the under-seat space of the aircraft, then you are allowed to bring it to the cabin. Usually, these are dogs weighing up to 20 pounds.
You can’t buy your dog an actual sit and bringing your Shiba (if his size allows it) as a carry-on is cheaper than having it checked in as cargo. Remember, your pet carrier counts as your carry-on bag.
You’re also not allowed to take it out of the carrier during the flight. So just a heads up that this might be a bit stressful, especially if your pooch is barking or has an accident that will disturb others.
The only option if you own a bigger dog is to have it checked in as cargo. This means your dog will be in a pressurized, temperature-controlled compartment not too different from the passenger cabin. Essentially, it is flying as a checked bag on the same flight as you.
Again, you need to check with your airlines as some don’t even allow animals as cargo.
Visit the vet before your flight
It’s always best to visit your veterinarian before flying with your dog. A check-up will reveal your Shiba’s health and if they are fit to travel.
Common health requirements for dogs are deworming should be completed at least three days before the flight and that dogs who have undergone recent surgeries are not allowed to travel.
You might be required to submit a health certificate for your dog, but this also varies per airline and if you’re traveling domestically or internationally. Some might require for pets flying in the cargo apartment, but not for pets in the cabin.
However, for international flights, a health certificate is always required. This is also why you need to visit your vet before flying as the airline will ask for a signed international health certificate for traveling cats and dogs.
Also, note that these health certificates expire after 30 days so always plan accordingly.
For vaccinations, most international flights might require the following:
- Rabies vaccine and signed rabies certificate
- Canine distemper virus vaccination
- Canine parvovirus vaccination
- Infections canine hepatitis vaccination
- Leptospirosis vaccination
If your Shiba is the anxious kind, the veterinarian might prescribe a sleeping or anti-anxiety medication. However, this is not always necessary and a lot of dog owners avoid this.
A good non-medicated way to call your dog is to give them a chewing toy or their favorite blanket. This will help relax them throughout the flight.
Get your Shiba comfy with its carrier
If your Shiba is not carrier-trained, then immediately shoving them inside one will only cause stress and panic in your pooch.
So months before your flight, it is best to get it used to its carrier. You can start gradually until they get comfortable. You can use a very similar training process when you were just crate training them.
This a very important tip, as most airlines require your dog to be in a carrier unless it is a service animal.
As mentioned, start carrier training four months, or even earlier, before your flight. First, leave it out in the open, letting your Shiba sniff, just introducing the physical form of the carrier.
Next is slowly coaxing them inside. This might take time, days, but eventually, your pooch will get comfortable. Start training for a few minutes a day and as always, reward with treats or positive reinforcement everytime your Shiba gets in the carrier on its own.
Surround it with your dog’s favorite things like their stuffed toy or familiar blanket. And make sure to not rush your Shiba. Do each step slowly and consistently.
Cost of flying
The cost of flying your dog varies per airline. But usually, the standard fee is $125 and that’s just the base price. If your dog is flying as checked-in cargo, the charge will be based on the weight of your dog and its carrier and your destination.
Best prepare extra money when traveling with your pooch as additional charges might not be included when you booked your ticket.
So it is more expensive to travel with your pets than to travel pet-free, not to mention the additional fees you’ve already paid when you visited the vet or even the purchase of its carrier.
Health risks for dogs
Unlike humans who immediately tell you they are not feeling well, your lovable Shiba Inu can’t.
True, some dogs love flying and usually behave well during their flight, but some dogs aren’t just as excited as others.
This is why you need to look at the pros and cons of flying with your dog. Are your and your dog’s stress worth it wherever you are going? If you have a nervous pooch and you are off to a vacation, it might be better to leave them with a trusted family or friend instead of having them go through the terrors of flying.
Here are some health risks that you should look out for when flying with your dog.
Air travel for your dog can be stressful, most especially if they are in cargo and on an international flight. The long hours with layovers can be a nightmare for you and your pet.
This travel experience can be traumatizing for your Shiba Inu. The airport and the plane are filled with new and loud noises, there are changes in air pressure and temperature, plus a whole lot of strangers and new scents your dog is not used to.
This is a whole new level of discomfort for them.
If your dog is riding in cargo, you won’t be able to see them until you finally land. Now, this is a challenge if your pooch is on medication and needs constant supervision. This is why more airlines have newer policies that prevent pets from flying in cargo and also lessen the risk of injuries.
It is definitely better if your dog is with you in the cabin where you can attend to their needs at all times.
Most health-related issues in this article involve your dog flying in cargo. This is because we don’t see them and there’s just no way to know how they are doing in the belly of the plane.
One of the main health concerns when it comes to flying with your dog is the temperature. Most cargo holds are pressurized and climate controlled so this should give you a bit of an assurance that your pet is safe.
However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be temperature changes at any time of the flight. Your dog might experience extremely hot or extremely cold temperatures, which can lead to overheating or hypothermia.
Other health consideration
If your Shiba Inu is pregnant or you have a senior dog, there are more issues you need to consider aside from the ones mentioned. For older dogs, a thorough check-up and a geriatric blood panel assessment at the vet are needed to make sure there are no health complications.