Follow these precautions to make sure your dog is transported properly and with qualified transporters.
Learn that when using the airlines,you should check weather regulations. They are getting stricter about not shipping pets in weather that is too hot or too cold. (Their definition, not yours.)
Check to make sure your dog's papers are up-to-date. Regulations are different for moving animals intrastate vs interstate and also for crossing International borders. Any airline will need a health certificate dated no earlier than 10 days before your departure.
Check with your vet if you need to take any precautions before shipment time. The vet will also make sure that your animal’s rabies shots are current. This is also a good time to ask about possible sedation for the animal during its trip and about microchip identification. (NOTE: Using sedation to ship your pet is very dangerous, as it greatly reduces your pet's ability to regulate their body temperature. There have been many deaths caused by owners using sedatives, and it should only be used in extreme circumstances. The American Veterinary Medical Association, Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA, DOT, and FAA suggest that you DO NOT sedate your pet when flying. Further information from the American Veterinary Medical Association can be found at www.avma.org)
If you are flying by commercial airline, make sure you have an adequate kennel/cage for your animal. Your pet should be able to get up and turn around in the enclosure. It’s a good idea to write down your contact information on the kennel/cage, just to be on the safe side. Make it personal: Hi, my name is _______ and you can contact me at_____ in Arizona. It will help get your pet noticed if there is a delay or unexpected layover. Also put some food in a Ziploc bag with instructions and tape it to the kennel in case of emergency.
If you are flying with your pet in the cabin of the aircraft with you on a crateless flight, The Dogtravel Company provides in-cabin crateless flights for dogs of all sizes], make sure your pet is accustomed to sitting in a seat in a moving vehicle for long periods of time, such as your car. You will also want to acclimate your pet to wearing a safety harness prior to your flight.
Make sure your dog has a collar with the correct tags on it. Better yet use a permanent marker and write directly on the collar for better visual. If your pet gets loose it isn't likely to let anyone close enough to see the tags. Or the tags can get lost.
Be sure the driver knows about medications your dog takes, as well as the type of diet, water and exercise schedule that your pet is used to. Be sure to give extra food and medication to the driver, in case their trip takes longer than expected due to weather, traffic, mechanical problems, etc.
Do not pack toys, or any other blankets, towels, etc. They are not permitted in the crate. Just 16 ounces of dry dog food, absorbent material such as shredded paper and your dog. The airline handlers provide water and the absorbent material will be discarded and replaced at some point during the trip.
Find a qualified and reliable pet transporter.
Ask several questions until you feel comfortable with the pet transporter.
Research pet transporters until you find one that meets your requirements and price point.
Longer trips might require food and water for your dog.
All cargo holds are pressureized but the air pressure in the cargo hold does not remain the same as it does in the passenger cabin. This could be a serious risk to your pet's health.
There will be no humans in the cargo hold to help your pet, if your pet has an emergency. Make sure that your pet is in good health and has an ok from your vet to fly in cargo. Heart,lung, kidney, and any other vital organ issues can be fatal to your pet. If you are flying your pet to receive medical treatment, please remember the change in the altitude and air pressure may be extremely painful for your pet. Any bones that have been broken, or had surgery, or even pets who have had major surgery should be given significant time to recover before flying them to avoid severe pain. Sedation is not a very good solution for pets who are flying and may be lethal, especially to an animal who just had surgery.
If you have a brachycephalic (short nosed) pet like a pug, boxer, chow chow, bull dog of any kind, etc, make sure you check with your vet before flying to make sure your pet is going to be safe. Many airlines will not fly dogs with short noses in the cargo hold because of the risk to their health.
Before picking a commercial airline to fly you may want to review the DOT's Animal Incident Reports on the number of pets lost, injured, or who die during transport in cargo holds. If you'd like to do some digging you can find these reports at the bottom of each month's Air Travel Consumer Report
Things You'll Need
Proper name tags
Kennel (unless the pet transporter provides one)
Food, medicine, toys, blanket, anything else your dog might require
Your pet's medical records and primary vet's # in case there is an emergency. It doesn't hurt to have this information on your pet's kennel.