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Hi everyone,

In a few months I will be moving to the US, and will take my dog with me.
My dog is about 7-8 months old atm (don't know the exact age, as we rescued her from the street when she was tiny), and already weighs about 50lbs (so I won't be able to take her in cabin).

I would appreciate any advice on how to prepare a dog for a longhaul flight (it will be a 13 hour trip with one connected flight- no direct flights are available) and any personal experience about flying a dog in cargo.

I'm really anxious that it might be very stressful, as she already is a fearful dog. Also I don't how she will react when people will carry her crate around (she loves people in general, but sometimes barks when she hears "strangers" walking into the yard - she looks like a shepherd mix - so it might be in her "guard" nature).

Any tips and experiences are appreciated
 

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Would find out how to check to insure your dog gets loaded during your connecting flight change.. We were coming back in country and my Dad held up the plane while they tried to find the dog crate to get him loaded on the plane. It was 1972... so you could still stuff like that lol... Now they have bar code stickers and direct Customer Service lines for Animals traveling to keep track of them.. That would be mine thought is finding how or who to contact to make sure your dog is on your connecting flight.
 

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First off, you need to make sure her crate complies with the international travel rules and the airline you are going to be using. Also, I'm assuming that you have read the UDSA import rules for dogs? https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel I know that there are certain vaccinations that are required, including rabies, that need to be given at specific intervals leading up to time the dog is imported.

Once you've done that, if she's not already used to being crated, start working on that now. Feeding her in her crate and playing crate game (you can search youtube for that) will help her be comfortable in her crate.

For the actual flight DO NOT give her any medication to "keep her calm", unless it's one that she takes on a routine basis (like daily medication for anxiety). Tranquilizers can cause suppression of the respiratory system.
 

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I moved to Norway with my dog in Cargo, also with a connecting flight. The paperwork and juggling all the required vaccines/medication was honestly the hardest part, but yeah. Having a dog in cargo is really stressful. Definitely do as much crate training as possible with the crate she'll be traveling in, to make it as safe and comfortable as possible for her. It may also help to get her used to driving in the car while in the crate, or even visiting the airport, but I know this isn't always feasible. It wasn't for us, given Sam's carsickness and how far away the airport was.

Make sure you know the specific airline's requirements when it comes to crates, labeling, etc. and follow them as closely as possible. Many, for example, require airline crates to have metal hardware (the bits that hold the two halves together), but many airline crates are sold with plastic hardware, so you have to buy the metal parts separately. I also made sure to line my dog's crate with a specific travel pad that would let liquid sink through to the bottom instead of absorbing it, in case he peed. I also had a water dish fastened to the inside of the door, with a funnel set into it on the outside, so airline staff could refill the water dish if necessary (he still had water in his dish when I picked him up at the destination, so that worked well). You'll probably have to zip-lock the door closed, so make sure you pack a pair of scissors somewhere easily accessible in your checked luggage so you can cut them off right away when you reach your destination!

You can ask the flight crew whether your dog's on board. I did on both flights - for the first one I had to ask twice before someone actually checked instead of telling me "oh he's probably there". For my own peace of mind, I insisted on confirming that before takeoff. Make sure to check whether you need an appointment at the destination airport with the airport vet - we were not informed that this was the case in Norway, but thankfully it was easy to get ahold of the vet so our boy could get through customs. I don't know what the US requires, having never done the trip that way.

If the weather's going to be hot (or cold, not sure what 'a few months' will be, weather-wise!) at any airport during your trip, double check the airport regulations regarding flying animals in extreme weather. Some will refuse to fly dogs over or under certain temps, or need a vet to sign off saying "this dog is fit enough to travel between these temperatures". You may have to, for example, get a flight really early in the morning if it's going to be a hot week, so there's less chance of it being a dangerous temp for your girl out on the tarmac.

Let's see, what else... do not sedate her under any circumstances. The change in altitude can interact with those kinds of drugs sometimes and a dose that's safe at ground level could kill at a mile up. Many airlines will not take a dog that appears drugged for that exact reason.

I may think of other things, but if you have any specific questions I'll try to answer them based on my experience.
 

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Some airports will not allow dogs to be shipped during the summer months due to the temperatures so check that your destination airport will accept pets. Ensure you read the USDA guidelines and get all of the necessary vaccinations, tests and documentation, and when you do, take several photocopies of everything as stuff can get lost in transit - take at least one copy of everything in your hand luggage.
Get your dog used to the crate and do not use any sedation as they will refuse to fly the dog.
Research food options as brands are not universal and if you have to change bring enough food to make the transition.
 
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