It is a dilemma for dog owners whether to take their dogs for travel or not but it is especially problematic for pet parent of an elderly dog.  The first and foremost thing that needs to be considered before you take your elderly dog on a flight is their emotional and physical health.  No matter how much you would like your old furry friend to accompany you along, it might not be suitable for his/her health. You have to make an informed decision.  Pay heed to not only the vet’s recommendation but your own instincts as well. Dogs reach their middle age around seven years.  When it starts to move a bit slower and is not that bouncy playful pup anymore, you need to think carefully before moving him/her into the fast lane.  Travelling for all middle aged and elderly pets especially is both mentally and physically stressful for them.  Like aged and old humans, older pets also get comfortable and set in their own ways and have chronic health problems, dietary restrictions and prefer to stay in the familiar and comfortable confines of their home than flying in an airplane.

Listed below are some worthy tips for you while flying with an elderly dog:


Talk to Your Vet:

First of all, have an honest conversation with your vet about your elderly dog’s health and fitness for travel.  Though travelling with your pet does seems like a good idea, it is not exactly fair to them. Their health and safety limits might not allow them to be fit for travel.  So you need to think carefully and critically.  And get your dog thoroughly checked.


Flying with your elderly pet dog is like travelling with any other pet but their health condition needs special attention.  Diabetes and renal kidney disease are common in elder dogs. Therefore food and water needs to be taken into account. It is wise to plan in advance. Start as long as six months before so that your dog can accustom itself to its travel crate.  

Crate Training:

You need to work to adjust and familiarize your older pet to their travel care well in advance.  This is a must for older pets so that during the actual journey, their anxiety levels are kept low.  To calm nerves, you can put a familiar item like a favorite toy, blanket or T-shirt that smells like you could help greatly.

Keeping Things Familiar:

Older dogs do not stress over easily like young ones. But you need to take care of them and therefore it is very important to bring your dog’s familiar things like their bowl, blanket, treats or toys on your trip that makes them feel safe and reduce stress as well.

Collect Information:

Though most of the airlines have pretty much the same basic rules, each one may have different details and requirements for your elderly dog.  Find out the size of dogs which are allowed in the plane’s cabin and the type of carrier you have to carry your dog in along with any other health regulations regarding immunizations and certificates.


If you plan to air travel during summer, choose the time of early morning or evening flight in order to avoid high temperatures.  In winters, avoid the near frigid temperature by choosing the daytime flights. If you have to take your elderly dog with you, always try to book nonstop flights to keep from the delays. When traveling with an elderly pet, heavy traffic times like holidays and weekends should be avoided.

Bathroom Breaks:

Majority of the older pets need to relive themselves more often as incontinence is a common problem in aging dogs and cats. Therefore, it is essential to prepare in advance.  Older dogs need to take bathroom breaks about every few hours.  For a long trip, consider doggie diapers for your elder dog.

Cabin Travelling:

If your elderly dog is small enough so fit inside the cabin and can travel with you, bring the required carrier to hold your pet.  You could test the tranquilizer your vet gave you about three days before the actual flight on an empty stomach.  Unless medical problems require constant availability of water, avoid giving water to your dog or feeding it the morning of the flight.  Give the tranquilizer to your dog before you leave for the airport so that enough time is given to it to work. Small amounts of water need to be given to your dog during the flight in order to prevent dehydration or it could lead to renal failure in older dogs having kidney disease.

Mindful Food Offering:

Many elder dogs are picky eaters or have digestive problems so you need to be careful about what you feed your dog before the flight. Do not feed them too close to the flying time. There should be few hours between flight time and food time. A light meal works just fine.

Travelling in Cargo:

Unless they are registered helper dogs, older dogs need to travel in cargo section of the plane.  You will need to purchase the cargo cage that is recommended by the airlines. Get a cage with secure locking system.  Then attach a tag to your dog’s collar with your name and contact number and a copy of its health certificate to the cage.  Take a margarine tub and freeze water in it. Place it in the cage’s dish when you check it at airline counter.  This will prove to be a regular water supply during the journey without danger of spilling.  When travelling in the cargo bay, avoid using tranquilizers with older dogs because they need to be alert and aware to keep their balance on the moving plane.

Stay Calm:

Pets are sensitive and can easily pick on your vibes. They follow you on terms of energy level and mood therefore you have to remain calm and keep them on a regular schedule before and after the flight. The less the stress, the easier it will be for them to cope with stress. Have a good flight!