Flying with dogsLast week was all about taking your dog in the car and ferry to Europe. But if you’re going on a longer trip or just don’t want to put your friend in kennels and have no option but to fly, then you’ll need an airline dog crate.

Flying a dog anywhere is usually very costly as there are no bargain flights.

But there are also some great lessons to be learned from the requirements for safe and enjoyable travel to work out what size dog crate you need whatever type of trip you make.

Sizing a Dog Crate

IATA lays down the international standards on how to size the appropriate crate for your dog. This requires four measurements:
A. The length of your dog from nose to root of tail
B. The height from the ground to the elbow
C. The width across the shoulders
D. The height of the animal standing which should include the erect ears for those breeds

It then lays out the minimum requirements of:

  • Length of dog crate should be A + 1/2B
  • Width of dog crate C x 2
  • Height D + 3 inches.

This will allow your pet to stand, lie and turn around relatively comfortably without them shuttling backwards and forwards in a vastly over-sized dog crate.

Allowable Dog Crate Materials

While wooden crates are allowed, not all airlines will accept them. It is therefore probably better to go with fibreglass, metal, welded metal mesh or rigid plastic versions. Whatever the main material, the floor must be solid and leak-proof. Three sides of the dog crate must provide sufficient ventilation allowing for the departure and destination points of the trip.

The door is ideally metal and spring-loaded with all-around locking where the pins have at least 1.6cm engagement with the frame. The door must withstand the weight and potential attentions of the dog traveller so plastic doors can be a no-no. Also don’t consider crates with wheels as the airlines will ask you to remove them to prevent rolling.

Pet Care

Airline dog crates should have spill-proof hook-on food and water dishes. Some also require a dry food storage area depending on the flight length.

In all cases the crate needs to have LIVE ANIMAL stickers, the pet’s documentation and the owner’s contact information.

While this cannot be an exhaustive list of everything needed to choose the right airline dog crate; there is also a clear training need so that your canine friend is comfortable being contained and travelling in the dog crate for a long period of time. So it’s worth checking out the RSPCA’s guide to training and choice.

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