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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. I?m flying from Toronto to Edmonton with a 9week puppy. She will be in cabin with me . Is this safe for the puppy or are there still risks ? I do not want her to be placed in cargo .

  11. Luis – your puppy does not need an electric crate. As a matter of fact, the airlines will not accept an electric crate in the cargo hold. This is a typical “ask” of a pet scammer. Do NOT send them any money for an electric crate or special shots or permits. If they keep asking for money, you are dealing with pet scammers.

  12. I want to fly a puppy in cabin with me from Puebla Mexico to Houston Texas. Do you guys know age restriction and what paperwork I will require?

  13. John – the US is pretty cat-friendly and a health certificate is advised as your kitten is too young to be vaccinated for rabies. If flying in the cabin with you, it will depend on your airline’s pet policies and most require that kittens and puppies are 8 weeks of age to fly. Within 7 days of export from India, your kitten will need a health certificate from their vet as well as an Animal Health Certificate from the Animal Quarantine and Certification Service as well as all documentation required for their destination country. If you want to return with your kitten, be sure and get an export Notice of No Objection before leaving. Veterinary officials will inform you if it is necessary to vaccinate your kitten for rabies before leaving India.

  14. I have a 7 week old kitten that I want to travel with to the US from Doha, and I am wondering if it is safe to take her since the flight is 15 hours long and what will happen if I do take her. Also, what are the policy?s or documents for entering pets to the US.

  15. 10 week old kitten is it safe to fly a 3 hour flight in a small carrier in the cabin from Florida to Chicago

  16. I’m travelling with a 10 week old kitten from Newfoundland to alberta?does she need her shots?

  17. Hello do you know an airline that will accept a 8 week old puppy in the cabin for a transatlantic flight? i would light to bring a puppy from France to the US

  18. Google IATA Global they have the regulations for shipping live animals. For the airlines most don’t know the regulations shipping cargo or baggage .

  19. For future info … You can enter Canada with with pets under 3 months with out any import restrictions,..
    Coming from any country rabies free. Or other country not rabies free as long as they are under 3 months. Check..CFIA. It’s on there site. Airlines sometimes want a rabies vac. for in cabin . And of course a health certificate.

  20. Merryl – you are correct. The US does consider Finland to be a rabies-free country, so the rabies vaccination is not required. You will need to check with the Finnish Food Safety Authority to see if there are export requirements. Likely your puppy will need a microchip and health certificate.

  21. Hi, I am planning on importing a 9 week old puppy from Finland to the United States. Since both countries are on the rabies-free list, I was told the puppy can fly in cabin without waiting for the rabies vaccination. Is this accurate? Thank you

  22. Bryanna – at 12 weeks of age, your puppy will need to be microchipped, then vaccinated for rabies and wait for 21 days before entering Germany. There could be other requirements depending on the country your puppy is entering Germany from.

  23. I have a puppy that I want to take to Germany but she’s too round to get her rabies shot because when I pick her up she will only be 8 weeks but right when I leave for Germany she will be 12 weeks so there’s no time to get her rabies shot… is that a requirement if they are still really young to get rabies shot going to Germany

  24. Julie – whether you can put 2 puppies in one carrier depends on their size and your airline’s pet policy. Best to contact them to discuss. If they are very small and known to each other, the airlines may allow it.

  25. Can 1 traveler carry on 2 puppies in soft-sided bags if no other carry-on luggage is taken?

  26. HI Karen – it is not true that pets can enter the US from Canada without a rabies vaccination. Your puppy must be vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 3 months of age and wait for 30 days before entering the US from Canada unless prior permission is received from the Center for Disease Control.

  27. I heard if your puppy is 8 weeks old, you do not have to get a rabies vaccination to fly from Canada to the United States, is this true?

  28. Hi,
    So I’m hoping to have my boyfriend fly with a kitten he found where he lives. The only problem is we don’t know how old she is and we want to do her veterinary where I live. Is it possible to fly with her domestically is we aren’t sure how old she is?

  29. Mary – it is true that flying can be a traumatic experience for a kitten, but behavioral characteristics can also be inherited. Although we understand you reasoning, it is better to see the kitten and it’s personality before adopting.

  30. oops – but the good news – i love them both….but unfortunately, the skittish one will not go to anyone else – my first one will walk up to anyone and say pet me please!

  31. I went across country to pick up a kitten from a breeder – everything worked well – beautiful cat, flew home with her and she is well adjusted. Because i dealt with breeder in past i decided to let her fly my next kitten home to me – after all, i trusted her. The kitten was traumatized by the flight and has never gotten over being skittish no matter what i do – 7 years later….also does not even look like the other one (seal point siamese) – one has round face – other has pointed. Actually i thought it was a ferret at first! I would never trust any breeder again – a lot of money that you can’t get back…also – my picture was an adorable side profile that she sent – no way to tell whose pic that was

  32. Hi Terry – we doubt that any commercial airline will transport a week-old kitten. Generally, the minimum age is 8 weeks.

  33. Natacha – the EU is not specific about vaccinations other than distemper and rabies. Best to ask your vet whether this vaccination can wait.

  34. Hi again,

    Pups that get a vaccination at 6 weeks is the regular puppy vaccine. At 9 weeks they get vaccination for parvo & weil’s disease. But since he will only be 8 weeks when I enter Czech I wonder if I have to let him have the vaccination for parvo and weil’s or that the puppy vaccination will be enough…

  35. Natacha – when you refer to vaccination, hopefully, it is just puppy vaccinations (distemper, etc.) Puppies should not be vaccinated against rabies before they are 12 weeks of age. According to Czech regulations, puppies under 12 weeks of age can enter the country if they are microchipped, have an EU pet passport, and the owner or another authorised person shall submit signed declaration stating that since its birth, your puppy related to your non-commercial movement has not had any contacts with wild animals of the species susceptible to rabies.

    You should ask your vet what the vaccination is that your puppy will receive at 9 weeks and whether it can be postponed or administered in the Czech Republic.

  36. Hi,
    I am flying a puppy from Brussels to PRG. He is then just 8 weeks old. He did get his vaccination, EU passport and chip at 6weeks. The next vaccination he would have to have in Belgium is at 9weeks. Do I have to let him get that vaccination or can I enter Czech with the vaccinations the pup allready has got? Thanks

  37. Meredith – in the cabin, prices generally range from $100 to $150 for domestic and from $150 to $250 for international flights.

  38. Elizabeth – if you are flying domestically, then vaccination should not be necessary. If you are flying internationally, Delta will want to verify that you can enter your destination country with an un-vaccinated kitten. Puppies and kittens should be vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 3 months of age.

  39. I am traveling with an 11 week old kitten (mixed breed) as a carry on for Dela Airlines. Is it necessary to vaccinate for rabies, when she will be far too young to get the vaccination then?

  40. Albena – we have a great dog calmer in our store which are chews that will not sedate your pet but just take the edge off. ( This is a good alternative to prescription sedatives. You can try them at home first to observe your pet’s behavior.

    Another suggestion would be to get your pooch accustomed to being in their carrier. Get them out of their environment in the carrier as much as you can. Take them to someplace fun with you – a friend’s house, a pet store, a dog park. Do this as often as you can to get your pet acclimated to its carrier. This effort will really pay off in the long run.

  41. I have shih tzu and malteese breed and I`m taking her with me from USA to Germany and then transfer to Bulgaria. The first flight is about 8 hour with 2 hours layover in Gremany. The secind flight is about 2 hours. I have never taken her on a plane and I`m not sure how she would feel. She is ussually very hipper and my vet suggested to prescribe some meds. Is that recommended? Would she be ok? She would be in the cabin with me but i`m worry that she might started barking and crying. She is very attached to me so I don`t wont to leave her for 3 weeks. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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