Air Travel with a Poodle: 9 Things You Will Need to Know

Flying with pets has become more and more popular over the years. Flying with your poodle will require its fair share of planning. There is a lot to keep up with when booking flights, so knowing how to safely travel with your poodle with as little hassle as possible will be crucial.

So how Should you fly with a poodle?  These are nine things you should know when flying with a poodle:

  1. The differences between in-cabin and cargo Air travel
  2. Your poodle’s health risks when flying
  3. Your poodle’s overall health
  4. How to ease them onto a flight
  5. Be prepared for extra fees
  6. Know how to keep your poodle calm on a plane
  7. Understand the Guidelines for Service Animals When Flying
  8. What documentation you may need from your vet
  9. Understand your specific airline’s policies when traveling with a poodle

When it comes to our beloved pets, safety should always be the number one priority. There are some great tips that we discovered while researching best practices, as well as some great things to consider specifically for your poodle.

How to Fly with a Poodle on a Plane

Flying with a poodle will come with its own set of obstacles you will want to consider before booking a flight. There are a lot of things that need to be adequately planned ahead of time, as well as things unrelated to the airline that you will need to check with your vet about.

Having your pet with you can be a great comfort when you need to travel. Whether it is a work trip or visiting family, we would all love to keep our furry family members with us all the time.

So, you will want to make sure the trip for your poodle is worth it. Flying can cause a lot of stress for a dog, so if it is a short trip, it may not end up being worth the anxiety and extra planning.

The good news for poodles is that they are hypoallergenic, and their hair does not shed the same way as dogs with fur do. So, this helps to make them a very low maintenance traveler. 

But if you can take the necessary steps to ensure your dog will be good-to-go on a flight, it will make everything much easier on pet-parent and pet-child.

1. The Differences Between In-Cabin and Cargo Air Travel

One of the most significant differences you will need to understand is the differences between having your pup in-cabin with you and underneath with cargo. We will get into more detail later about how airline restrictions may determine these two options for you.

But first, let’s look at what the differences entail and how they affect your poodle.


Whenever possible, you will want to keep your poodle in-cabin with you. The stress and uncertainty of flying can be very overwhelming for a dog. The new sites and sounds can be stressful enough, but the new smells might be overwhelming.

So, if you can keep your pup right by your side throughout the flight, it will make things much easier for them. Being able to have you nearby will make a world of difference for them. While they may be stubborn at times, dogs trust their owners. So when they know you are nearby, they will feel like they can relax a bit more.

Your in-cabin options will typically be either:

  • Dogs small enough to fit under the seat in front of you in a carrier
  • Purchasing a seat for your dog
  • Having them on board as an emotional support animal

These options will get covered further later in the article when we talk about airline regulations that you should know. 


If your dog is unable to stay with you in-cabin for any reason, they will need to go into cargo. If this is the case, you will need a carrier with enough space for them to be comfortable, but that will also be durable and strong.

You want to make them feel as comfortable as possible, so making the inside of the crate feel like home will be essential. Your dog will be in the cargo area for the duration of the flight, and you will get them back once you arrive at your destination.

Cargo will also be more extreme in their temperature fluctuations. So be sure your dog has plenty of comfy bedding to snuggle up in if it is a cold time of year. If your poodle has any issues in extreme temperatures, speak with your vet about the possibility of having to put them in cargo.

If you have a layover, you will want to do your best to book a flight with a short one. This way, they can be transported directly from one plane to the next without a long delay in between. Always check with the airline for their specific rules regarding layovers.

2. Your Poodle’s Health Risks When Flying

Understanding the risks associated with your poodle needs to be considered before booking any travel. All dogs are unique with their quirks and health issues. But some breeds may share characteristics that can be troubling when it comes to air travel.

Luckily, poodles are not known for breathing difficulties. One of the main issues you would want to be hypersensitive to when considering putting a dog on a plane would be in their breathing. 

The altitude can be harsh on a dog that is experiencing any sort of breathing problems, whether it is due to a genetic issue they have had their whole life or they’re experiencing a short-term issue. 

Poodles do tend to suffer from different skeletal and orthopedic issues such as hip dysplasia and luxating patella. Because of those issues, you will always want to make sure your poodle has plenty of space and does not feel cramped. They will need enough room to comfortably lie down in their crate to avoid cramps and pain.

Always speak with your vet before flying with your poodle. Even though they don’t have many health issues that directly affect their ability to be in a plane, every dog will be different. Having that consultation ahead of booking is a must.

3. Your Poodle’s Overall Health

Aside from any underlying genetic issues, you will need to ensure your poodle’s overall health. These are things that should be happening regardless of if your poodle will be taking a flight with you or not.


For a dog that is prone to hip dysplasia, this is a big one. Poodles are active dogs who love to exercise and be mentally and physically stimulated. There is no reason they should be overweight unless there is an underlying illness. 

Keeping them a healthy weight will help their bone structure stay strong and healthy without putting additional pressure on their bodies. The extra weight can lead to many issues down the line and may endanger their health when put in conditions such as flight.

Ensuring your poodle’s overall health will help make flying a more enjoyable experience for them.

4. How to Ease Them Onto a Flight

Flying is not something that seems normal to a poodle. It will take some time for them to adjust. The more you fly with a dog, the more they will understand how it all works. Some dogs will be calmer than others, naturally. But if you have a worrier on your hands, it will be wise to help them ease into a flight.

Taking them on shorter trips in your car to start, and then even on long road trips is a great way to begin easing them in. Some dogs love a car ride, while others immediately assume it means they’re going to that place that pokes and prods them while they sit on a cold metal table.

The more used to any type of travel they are, the better their flight experience will be. They get to see new places, get used to new smells and areas, and understand that going in a crate in a weird, moving, metal box might not be that bad.

You also want to make sure they are fully crate trained. Whether they are going into cargo or staying with you, this is smart. This isn’t something you want to just toss them into. Dogs need time to understand that a crate is not a punishment, but rather an extension of their home. It’s theirs: their territory, their safe space.

Luckily, poodles are insanely intelligent. Although many are also stubborn when it comes to learning new tricks, they can pick up commands and directions easily because of their intelligence. 

The American Kennel Club offers some great tips on crate training your fog.

5. Be Prepared for Extra Fees

You will need to check with each airline when it comes to purchasing a ticket for your dog. Some airlines will not allow you to reserve a seat for them by purchasing a whole separate ticket. Instead, they have you pay an additional fee or a “pet fee” for them to ride in-cabin with you. 

Most airlines will charge somewhere in the $125-$200 range for a small poodle to stay with you in the cabin. If they remain in their crate the whole time and are under the weight limitations (typically 25 pounds), they should be able to stay with you.

Once you know which airline you will be flying, do some research online regarding their rules regarding purchasing tickets for your furry companion or call their customer service number for more detailed questions.

6. Know How to Keep Your Poodle Calm on a Plane

Ensuring your poodle is healthy, happy, and accustomed to any type of travel will help prepare them for the flight. But the next step is making sure they stay calm on the plane. 

If they are going to be in cargo, you will want to have their crate be as comforting as possible. Filling it with their favorite blankets, toys, a stuffed animal they love to snuggle with, or some of your clothing that they love to sleep on will be a great place to start.

I wrote this article on the best toys for poodles. In it, you will find the best toys to help keep your poodle happy and comfortable while flying.

Poodles rely heavily on scent like many other dogs. So, any familiar scents you can place in there will help them feel comforted. The crate itself should be very “lived-in” as well. The smell from a new crate takes some getting used to. 

Make sure the crate itself and everything in it will be comfortable and soothing for your poodle.

7. Understand the Guidelines for Service Animals When Flying

If your poodle is registered as an emotional support animal or a service animal, they will be able to fly in-cabin with you at no additional fee. 

This can be especially helpful if you have a standard poodle who, as an adult, will not meet most size guidelines from airlines to be allowed in-cabin. 

If they are already registered, check with your airline to understand their full set of guidelines and what information you will need with you on the day of the flight. 

The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) is a great resource for learning more about training and registering your dog to be a service dog. Poodles make for excellent companions and can be especially helpful to those needing additional assistance.

8. What Documentation you may Need From Your Vet

A trip to the vet just before a flight should already be a part of your plan. But it may need to be part of your plan. Some airlines will require you to bring documentation from your vet confirming that they are healthy enough for travel.

This helps to ensure the safety of your pet, first and foremost. Not all pet parents will take that extra step of bringing them by their vet for a checkup before a big flight. But it is a crucial step to ensure their safety.

So, in some cases, you will find that you need documentation to prove you have done your due diligence. The airlines don’t ever want to be responsible for anything going wrong with a pet on a flight, and this is a way for them to help protect against anything happening.

Most airlines will require this type of certificate. And an exam from last year won’t cut it. They typically want to see a good record of health from an appointment within ten days of the travel date.

9. Understand Your Specific Airline’s Policies When Traveling With a Poodle

Each airline will have its own set of rules when it comes to animals on planes. While airlines have fairly similar size requirements because most commercial airliners are similar in their dimensions, they may still have individual rules that need to be adhered to.

Some airlines will also have breed restrictions aside from their size. This is mainly due to health concerns for breeds that have breathing issues.

It is always best to check directly with the airline. Airlines are continuously updating different rules when it comes to pet travel. These changes are to help make flying with pets safer and easier, but it can mean a change in your plans if you are going off old information.

The TSA will provide some great tips and general rules of flight for dogs but won’t be able to speak to specific airlines. This is a common mistake – people will check TSA guidelines, but not that of the airline they are flying.

The TSA offers great resources to get you started and to understand their rules before jumping into each airline. 

Have a Pre-Flight Checklist Ready To Go

Knowing all the topics covered in this article and doing research ahead time will make for an easier and less stressful trip for you and your poodle. But some additional tips will help you get your poodle ready for the flight and keep them healthy and safe during travel.

  • Have your Poodle Micro chipped

Having your poodle microchipped before any type of travel is very important. Aside from their tags with your information, a microchip will help them make their way back to you if they were to get out of their crate at any point.

  • Bring Snacks and Water for Your Poodle

If you’re eating and drinking on a flight, it means your dog will need to as well. Don’t forget about having some extra snacks and fresh water for them throughout the journey.

  • Label Your Poodle’s Crate

The same way you label your suitcase, you will want to label the crate. Make sure it is legible and easy to see.

  • Talk with Your Vet About Sedatives for Your Poodle

Not all dogs will need sedatives on flights. And you don’t want to give them to your poodle if they are unnecessary. This is a conversation for you to have with your vet, and they will be able to recommend a safe type and dosage if they believe they will be necessary.

Keeping Your Poodle Happy and Healthy on a Plane

Poodles can be excellent travel companions. They’re smart, won’t shed all over your fellow travelers, and depending on their size, they may be able to stay with you in-cabin. Trying to keep them in-cabin with you will be an important step to keeping them calm and happy.

Be sure to have up-to-date information from the TSA and airlines, make sure your poodle stays healthy, and always have an exam scheduled just before your flight to ensure your poodle is ready to hit the skies with you.

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Brent Hartman

I'm Brent Hartman. I've been a dog lover my entire life and have owned many animals over the years. When my black lab Angus passed away, I was looking for another friend to share my life with. As a result of my research, I've come to love poodles and wanted to share some of what I've learned with you. Whether you're looking to adopt a poodle, or already own one, I created Poodle report to be the ultimate guide to help you find the answers you need.

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