Flying with a Pug: Everything You Need to Know

Flying with a Pug: Everything You Need to Know

My husband and I adopted our pug from a dog-rescuer in Mexico City the year we first moved there. We lived there for three years but a few months ago we moved back to Canada. The reason we had chosen to adopt a small dog breed was so that we could bring them on a flight with us if we ever moved back. Since I’m Canadian and my husband is Mexican we knew we would be traveling a lot and didn’t want to put a dog in the cargo hold of an airplane. The thing with pugs, however, is that they are a snub-nosed breed and not all airlines will let you fly with them. Luckily for us, our vet told us that our pug is very healthy and has a good respiratory system. Still, flying with a pug, or flying with any animal for that matter, can be nerve-wracking the first time you do it. Here’s a guide that will help you prepare for your pug’s first flight.

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Always Ask for Your Vet’s Advice Beforehand

It’s always a good idea to take your pug in for a checkup before deciding to fly with them. Your vet can assess their respiratory system and let you know if they think your pug is healthy enough to fly. Since pugs are a snub-nosed breed, they are often susceptible to breathing problems. These problems can be aggravated with the change of air pressure on a flight.

How to Find a Good Pug-Friendly Airline

Flying with a Pug / Pug on Air Canada Flight
Mowgli asleep on the airplane

Not all airlines allow snub-nosed breeds to fly and it is actually illegal to put a snub-nosed breed in the cargo hold of an airplane. Ideally, you want your pug to be with you in the cabin anyway. Make sure that when looking for a flight, you check the pet policies of different airlines. It’s also a good idea to read online forums and reviews from other passengers who have flown with their pets. You will also need to check weight restrictions for pets (our pug almost didn’t make it on because he is adorably chunky).

When we were looking for a good pug-friendly airline, we narrowed it down to Air Canada and West Jet. Eventually, we ended up flying with Air Canada solely based on the reviews the airline had received from other passengers who had flown with pets. Personally, we had a great experience. Our pug was not allowed to come out of his crate during the flight but we were allowed to keep the crate open and on our laps between take-off and landing.

Getting Your Pug Used to its Travel Crate

Make sure that the crate you get has a soft top, fits the airline’s dimension restrictions, and doesn’t weigh too much. These are key things to consider when buying a crate to make sure it will fit well under your seat. You may also want to make sure the bottom of the crate is comfortable and the crate’s walls have good airflow.

The month leading up to our pug’s first flight, we wanted to get him used to his travel crate. We kept it in our bedroom all month long and kept it filled with his favorite toys and a blanket he likes. We would also put treats in it for him to find. Eventually, he started going inside just to take naps. We didn’t close it around him for a long time but once he was more comfortable with it we would close him inside while he was eating a treat.

The week before the flight we started putting the crate in front of my feet on the passenger side of our vehicle. Again, we didn’t close him in it right away in this new environment. We gave him lots of treats in there and drove him around to get him used to being in it in a moving vehicle.

Making Sure Your Pug is Comfortable and Calm in Flight

There are lots of things you will want to prepare to ensure your pug is comfortable in flight. The first thing you should do is make sure you have pee-pee pads. We kept a pee-pee pad at the bottom of the crate in case of accidents. Dogs don’t like to go potty in the place they sleep. However, you should have a pad that you can easily take out, dispose of and replace in case of accidents.

You will also want to have treats, food, and water on hand. You can get cups of water from the flight attendants, but make sure you have a bowl your dog can drink from too. Food and treats are also important to keep your pug happy. This is especially important if you’ll be traveling during a mealtime.

Flying with a Pug / Cooling Bandana for Temperature Regulation
Mowgli with his cooling bandana in Mexico for temperature control.

Pugs, as you probably know, cannot regulate temperature very well. For this reason, you may want to have a blanket in case it gets too cold on the flight, or a cooling bandana in case it gets too hot. I usually feel quite cold on airplanes but warmer in airports (depending on the destination).

It’s also a good idea to bring some toys and other comfort items for your pug.

To make sure our pug was calm we also chose an overnight flight so he would be sleepy. Plus, while in the airport, we gave him one of these calming treats (which we tested on him the week before the flight) to help keep him calm and sleepy. Make sure you ask your vet before trying a calming treat like this though. We also used one of these collars that supposedly release pheromones to help dogs stay calm. I don’t know if it actually worked but with a combination of that, plus the calming treat and taking a night flight, our pug snoozed for the whole trip.

Internationally Flying with a Pug

If you’re flying internationally with a pug make sure you look up what the destination country requires you to do upon arrival. Some countries require dogs to be put in long quarantines so it might be better to leave your pet at home if you’re just going on a short trip. Different countries may require you to show proof of different vaccinations before entering so make sure you look up what you need based on your destination and schedule a vet appointment before going.

Have a Great Trip!

These are all the things we did to prepare for flying with our pug for the first time and it worked very well for us. In fact, he didn’t bark on the flight even once which was pretty surprising. I hope this information helps you plan a stress-free trip with your furry friend!

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11 thoughts on “Flying with a Pug: Everything You Need to Know”

  • OMG Mowgli is so adorable! As a fellow dog mom I loved reading all of these tips – I’ve been working out how to fly with my mad sprocker so you’ve given me great food for thought. Thank you!

    • Oh yay! I’m glad you found it useful and I hope any future trips you take with your dog will go well 🙂

  • If only I could travel with my dog. Being a 50-pound breed he never fits into the category of being able to fit in a carrier under the seat. What a dream it would be to bring him with us on longer trips that require a flight.

    • Aw, that’s too bad. At least you can road trip with him! And he can probably go on more adventurous hikes than my lazy pug haha.

  • Love that you include your pup on travel adventures! My dog is too big to fly in cabin. but I love to take him on road trips.

  • Oh my goodness how cute!! Flying with a dog has always seemed so stressful to me, because I don’t want them to be scared or upset – but it sounds like your sweet pug did a great job and was very happy! Very good to know about the different airlines restrictions and rules.

  • What great tips for flying with a dog!

  • Hi! I’m also Canadian and looking to travel with my pug to South America (Brazil). Out of curiosity, when was this article written? I just called Air Canada this morning (August 2022) and they told me Stormy (my pug) is too large to travel with me in cabin (approx. 25lbs). I know pugs should never fly cargo, so now I’m researching other options for Stormy….. Also what size crate did you use for Mowgli?

    • Hi Sabrina! This was written in 2021. Mowgli was under 22 pounds when we flew with him and we actually put him on a bit of a diet leading up to the flight to make sure he would be approved. They told us his weight was fine then but I don’t remember exactly what he weighed.

      Another good option would be WestJet I believe, especially since AirCanada seems to be having understaffing and overbooking issues these days which has been causing delays and cancelations.

      We got Mowgli’s crate at PetCo. I think it was a size medium but we made sure to bring Mowgli to the shop and see how he fit in it.

      I hope that helps and I hope you have a safe trip to Brazil with Stormy!

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