Airline Pet Travel – Flying Your Puppy or Kitten Safely

Labrador puppyWe get a lot of questions from people who are having a puppy or kitten shipped to them from a foreign country which will require that they travel unaccompanied in the cargo hold of an airplane.

Do you know your breeder? If you are purchasing a puppy or kitten over the internet, you best have spoken with your breeder, know them or have been referred by someone who had received a puppy or kitten from them. Purchasing a puppy or kitten over the internet, sight-unseen, is a risky transaction. You can end up with a pet that was not as pictured, an unhealthy pet, or no pet at all. If your breeder requires that you wire money for your pet, especially to Cameroon, but to anywhere, then you need to be very wary of the transaction. An alternative is to find a puppy or kitten from a local breeder, if available, where you can see and hold your new puppy or kitten.

Considerations for pet travel: If you are confident in your breeder, then you need to consider the best way to transport your pet. Although the United States or Canada do not require rabies vaccination, most countries do and it must be administered at least 30 days or more before entering the country. Some countries require rabies vaccination before leaving the country. As rabies vaccinations are generally given at 3 months of age, this can put your new puppy or kitten’s age at 4 months before they can be transported to you.

What are the risks to my puppy or kitten?
You should consider the risk to your puppy or kitten flying in the cargo hold of an airplane. Their lungs are not fully developed at young ages and that can impair their oxygen intake. Many airlines have age minimums of between 8 weeks for domestic and 15 weeks for international travel for this reason. Temperatures are also a concern for young animals. Try to avoid transporting a puppy or kitten in the summer or winter when temperatures are extreme. Additionally, your puppy or kitten has not been oriented to its crate at a young age, adding to the trauma of leaving its familiar surroundings.

Although you want to get your new family addition as soon as you can, remember that it is a stress to a puppy or kitten to fly in the cargo hold. If you cannot pick them up and fly home with them in-cabin, then have your breeder care for them until they get older and are more prepared to travel. The wait will increase the chances that your puppy or kitten will arrive safely.

You can find more information about traveling with a pet at


Airline Pet Travel – Flying Your Puppy or Kitten Safely — 51 Comments

  1. Rom – Dogs entering the United States from Honduras will require a rabies certificate and should be vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 3 months of age and wait for 28 days before entering the United States. They must have rabies certificates to support their vaccinations.

  2. Miki – you can find current requirements to import your puppy to Hong Kong here: All live animals must enter Hong Kong as air cargo and likely you will need an agent to administer the transport. Many airlines require that puppies and kittens be at least 15 weeks of age prior to flying in the cargo hold internationally; however, you should confirm that with your airline. (contact their cargo department). Ask them whether an agent is required. If you need an agent in HK, you can search for one at We do not have offices in either country and not the best agent for this transport.

  3. Would like to know as we are planning to have a puppy(now 7 weeks old) from Australia to Hong Kong, how old the puppy will be ready exporting by flight(probably around 9-10hrs), for Hong Kong they require the puppy have to be 8 weeks old, but what about in AU? as AU is rabies-free, do we still need to wait up the puppy to have it done?

  4. Jesus – it is better for the puppy if someone can fly with it as it can fly in the cabin if the airline permits it (many do) and it is small enough as opposed to the cargo hold. If flying unaccompanied, your puppy will need to fly as air cargo which is more expensive and an agent will likely be required to book the transport. It may be more expensive than flying someone with the puppy in the cabin, but it is doable if this cannot be the case. Your puppy will need a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel and also a rabies certificate.

  5. I purchased a pomeranian puppy for my wife in Mexico and he is 1 1/2 months old. He is staying with my wife’s mother right now. When he turns 4 months he will have all his shots. Now we plan to bring him to our house in New York, but I wanted to know if he will be able to fly by himself and we pick him up at the airport, or will there be a problem with that? Does someone have to fly with him?

  6. Roger – walk the puppy before going to the airport. Give it a good long walk. Layer pet pads in your carrier. That way, should your puppy wet a pad, you can take it to the bathroom and just pull out the pad and you have another one there. These pads are good for this: Feed your pup more than 4 hours before flight. Do not limit water as hydration is important when traveling.

  7. We are getting a poodle from a breeder out of state and I’m flying to pick him up. He’ll be 11 weeks when I travel with him – he’ll be in-cabin with me and the flight is about 3.5 hours – and I’m just wondering about the best way to do it. One thing I’m concerned about is how to let him go to the bathroom before getting on a plane. There’s a pet area at the airport – but he won’t have all his shots and I’m worried about parvo. Do you have any thoughts?

  8. Divina – your puppies will be OK without food for 16 hours. You can tape a small bag of food to the top of the crate and handlers should feed them during the layover. Water is another matter and you will need to attach a water (and food) bowl to the door of their crate. A hamster bottle is accepted on some airlines, but they will still need the bowl. Get them a good pet pad for the crate (or lots of shredded newspaper). You will need to watch the temperatures and should not fly them if the temperature will be below 45 degrees anywhere on the flight, including Canada. Your airline will likely allow them to fly in the same crate. Get them the crate as early as you can and get them used to being in it.

  9. Hello. I rescued one day old abandoned puppies in Cambodia. Afterm lots of care, they are happy and healthy and growing fast! I plan on taking two home to Canada (the others have found loving homes here)

    I’m looking for the shortest flight possible but it’s still going to be about 16-20 hours. I am extremely nervous about this. They wI’ll be 4 months old when I plan to go home (should I try to stay longer?). Can they go that long without food? They eat all of their food so fast. I’ll try and train them not to eat it all at once, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to it time. Can I attach a hamster bottle with water to the create. I love them very much and really want everything to be okay

  10. Isabela – your puppy should be find flying with you in the cabin. Get your puppy an airline compliant pet carrier like one of these as soon as possible and get your puppy used to being in it. Layer pet pads in the bottom of the carrier. Lighten up on food intake the day of travel.

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