Dog-shipping Checklist

By Lulie Williams

Airline Reservations

  • When you make your reservations, make sure that every plane you board carries dogs.

  • Some airlines don’t have heated luggage compartments. 

  • It doesn’t hurt to do this later when you confirm your reservations.

Health Certificate from Vet

  • Must be within a certain time frame. Check with carrier.

  • Get appointment close to departure time, but make sure you have time to get any needed tests back, such as heartworm. 

  • If you stay a while, you may need another certificate before flying home.  Check on this.

Rabies Certificate

  • Check the state or country you are entering, some require yearly shots.


  • Flea & tick medication, Lyme disease. 

  • Heartworm preventative

  • valerian root (health food store) for calming.  

    Be sure you try this, maybe a week before shipping, to make sure it agrees with the dog.  You may want to talk to your vet about something stronger.  I feel it’s better not to give them anything unless you know your dog needs it.


  • Must be airline approved, big enough for the dog to stand up in and turn around.  But don’t get carried away, bigger crates cost more to ship.

  • Check fasteners and door latch.  Plastic ties are good for reinforcers, especially at the door.  You can also use them instead of fasteners, but make sure they are put on so they don’t release.  They are easy to undo as they can be cut with a knife or scissors.

  • Make sure that your dog is comfortable getting in and out of the crate.  Train himto do this ahead of time.  The airport should not be the first time he’s introduced to a crate.

  • A pad is nice for the crate, along with a toy. If this is the first time flying, a bit of smelly clothing from the owner might be appreciated.  You can buy rubber pads that keep dogs off the floor of the crate if they wet. 

  • The airlines require two bowls for watering, attached to the door.  We usually fill ours up with water ahead of time and freeze them so that the dogs have something wet to lick.  Helps prevent spilling, too.  For long trips, see if they’ll let you strap a water bottle to the crate.  Include a note to the baggage handlers to please add water to the dish.

  • Tape a big label in plastic to the top of the crate with the dog’s name, contact person at your destination, address with phone number.  Change this to your own address when returning home.



  • If possible, put the destination address on the dog’s collar.  Little pouches that fit on the collar with address written inside can be purchased from pet supply companies.  Or just buy an extra tag.  You can get instant tags that you write on with put in the oven.

  • Make sure you name, phone number with address is on the dog.  Chips are probably the most secure or a tattoo.

  • If shipping a short haired dog in the winter, put a coat on the dog.  Be sure it’s worn it previous to the trip.  Otherwise, he might eat it.

  • Do not feed the dog at least two hours before shipping.  More time is better.  Remember that it may be a long time before he can get out of the crate to relieve himself.

At the Airport

  • Make sure you have plenty of time.  If possible, have someone drive you, so you can easily get the crate and dog to check-in. Be calm and the dog won’t get nervous.

  • Have baggies with you so you can pick up any poop.  This is especially important for your destination.

  • Have your original rabies and health certificate.  They don’t always accept copies, especially out of country.

  • Have a leash hand, we recommend flexi leads if you know how to use them.

  • It is good to have a water bottle with you, so that at the destination or if you have to switch airlines, you can easily give the dog some water.

  • If you switch airlines, sometimes you have to recheck the dog.  This isn’t all bad if you have enough time between flights as you can take the dog out for a quick walk.  You will also have to pay again for the dog’s flight.

On the Plane

  • I always ask the gate attendant to call down and see if they have loaded my dog before I board.  I usually board last because of this.  Or if they convince me to get on the plane earlier, I ask the flight attendant to call and let me know when the dog is boarded.  I tell them I don’t want to go without the dog.  Some airlines automatically bring you a slip of paper, but I usually let the attendant know I’m looking for it.

Traveling By Car

  • Dogs should be in a crate that is secured to the car whether inside the car or outside in a truck.  Dogs are like babies when loose in a car…put them in a crate.  Otherwise, if you are in an accident, they will be like a ping pong ball.

  • If it is warm, make sure they have plenty of ventilation and flowing air.  If it is cold, you can secure blankets & tarps, or purchase a crate cover for warmth.  A crateis colder than a dog box as there is too much air space for the dog’s body to warm.  If you are carrying the dog in a crate in the back of a pickup truck, you can put straw int the crate, though this doesn’t help the drafts.