Flying With Dogs

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I am about to start flying with my dogs in my Cessna. I wanted to
ask for people's experience and advice:

1) Do you put a seat belt/harness on your dog? What about turbulence?

2) Do you use MuttMuffs (dog hearing protection)? If not, did the
engine and propeller noise bother your dog and/or hurt his hearing?

3) In a 4-seat airplane, where did you usually have the dog lie
down? My guess is on the backseat, but I just wondered if there are
any other options. The copilot seat is probably a bad choice, and
the baggage area seems like no fun (and a tight fit).

4) Did your dog ever get sick while flying?

By the way, while I am planning my dogs' first flight, I clicked
over to Phil's photos with his dog Alex. They reminded me why I want
my dogs to travel with me. I saw that Alex died last year at age 13.
I am very emotionally attached to the dogs I have had. It has
nothing to do with aviation, but I just wanted to mention that I
read a book recently called The Art of Racing in the Rain (by Garth
Stein) and thought it did a wonderful job of capturing the
relationship we have with our dogs and the difficult fact that we
usually outlive them.

Todd

-- Todd Ramming, March 21, 2010

Answers

I stopped using a seat belt for Alex after I realized that he would be content to stay in the back seat. Dogs are much more rugged than humans and can survive crashes that would kill us. The typical light plane accident does not seem to be one in which a seatbelt is a big life-saver. Mostly it is useful for keeping the pilot at the controls.

Alex flew to Alaska and back without earmuffs and his hearing was very acute even at age 13.5. In his last year or two of flying he did wear the MuttMuffs and tolerated them pretty well.

Alex threw up about 30 minutes after his first flight. After that he was rock-solid. The vomit incident occurred at an outdoor restaurant in East Hampton. I had to leave a big tip...

-- Philip Greenspun, April 16, 2010


Although I see that the discussion on flying with dogs is dated from some time ago, I still have a couple of our experiences to share from flying with our three dogd. We have a Cessna 182. - We learned our dogs flying by going for a 30 minutes flight for two or three times. That worked well. - We keep our three dogs in a bench in the luggage compartment of the C182. We use the same bench as we have for the car. This gives them a level of comfort right from the start. - We have a feeling, just like in the car, that our dogs prefer not to look outside and get constant input or disorientation from moving at high speed or long distances. In this respect the bench also works great for them. - We have mutmuffs for all three. But so far we find that they do not keep them on. We don't think they mind the noise. After flights of 4 hours they jump out of the plane and look very happy and not at all stressed or disorientated. In that respect we think the dogs like the flight just as good as they like car rides. - The first couple of serious flights we made with them to a small airfield that is next to the beach. We took them out of the plane and they were playing and running on the beach within two minutes. This caused them to get a very positive association with flying and getting into the airplane. This means that nowadays, if we get to the airfield they get really excited and cannot wait to get into the bench in the airplane. - So far we haven't seen them being negatively impacted by turbulence or anything. - The experience above is based on flights of 1 hour to over 4 hours, at an altitude ranging from 2000ft to FL100.

We hear from others with experience of flying with dogs that most dogs (about 80%) have no problems.

-- Mike de Freeze, September 6, 2010


I flew with my dog, a border collie for 8 years. He flew in a Piper Warrior, then an Acher and finally a Dakota. I just let him sit in the back seat without any type of restraint. He was never a problem. Never got sick. In fact, within about 15 minutes after takeoff, he generally was sound asleep. He never wore any ear protection, and never showed any negative after effects

-- CHRIS ALSTER, February 17, 2011

One further item re flying with animals in an unpressurized aircraft: they can wear ear protection (if they will tolerate it; ours won't), but they can't wear 02 masks. The vet tells us to stay at or below FL100.

-- Nicholas Budd, January 15, 2013

I know that the conventional wisdom is that we will all perish above 10K, apparently dogs included. I find that ridiculous. My wife and I fly above 10K for hours without O2 and we are not in nearly as good of shape as our dogs.

What about families that drive up Pike's peak and spend the day there at 14K?

Or the 1,000's of people everyday that come up from the flat lands and spend the day in strenuous exercise skiing above 10K?

Of course be reasonable and use common sense, but this 10K hard deck for a dog is a little over the top IMO.

-- Alex Baker, January 15, 2013


I would recommend a car seatbelt harness for keeping your dog in the back seat of the plane.

My beagle jumps all over the the car when we go for a drive, but he's remarkably calm when flying. Still, though, I'd hate to have him bounce around and hit an engine control, panel switch, or the yoke; especially after reading a story about that happening, last year.

-- Joe Moreno, January 15, 2013


I tend to take quite long trips (5+ hours) in my plane and the vet says to limit the altitude to 10K if possible if the dog is on board. Sometimes it is not possible, and it is correct that the dog does not stop breathing in such cases. I start using O2 on these trips when I start to yawn, which usually takes an hour or so above 9,000 feet (I am 67 years old). Air Force regs require pilots in unpressurized jet aircraft to use O2 at altitudes above 5,000 feet. It is true that dogs, like people, can adjust to high altitude conditions (over a period of time), but if the vet says "keep it to 10,000 feet if possible," I think it is responsible to follow that advice instead of being cavalier about it. The dog is relying on you, after all, to do the thinking, and to take the position that since the dog does not die if you fly above 10,000 feet and to therefore ignore the vet, is not thinking.

-- nicholas budd, February 4, 2013

Re: Airforce regs require O2 above 5,000'.

Not according to the latest version of the Air Force general flight rules

http://www.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/AFI11-202V3.pdf

Page 41.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but we should try to keep the information accurate here.

-- Alex Baker, February 4, 2013


Well, this is the new reg; it used to be 5000 msl (when I was flying Phantoms, which admittedly was a long time ago) but maybe the workload is not as great as it used to be now that everything is glass, and oxygen is expensive. Anyway, the vet must be aware of the new regs, because he says 02 at or above 10K, which was the original point.

-- nicholas budd, February 5, 2013