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How to Fly with an English Bulldog: Everything You Must Know

How to Fly with an English Bulldog: Everything You Must Know

Planning a flight has a lot of moving parts, and when you add your furry companion to the mix, it tosses in a whole new element. But with proper planning, flying with your English Bulldog won’t be as difficult as you would think.

How do you fly with an English Bulldog? Your bulldog should be kept with you and not put into cargo, if possible. They may not be able to fit under the seat as a carryon, but you could opt to purchase them a ticket to keep them with you. And always make sure your dog is in good health, proper weight, and that they will be allowed to fly with the airline.

Safety should always be your number one priority when flying with your pet. Airline rules will be essential to understand, but you also need to consider specifics based on your dog. Bulldogs have particular breed characteristics that can cause complications, so it is paramount to know all the facts.

Related: 20 Fun Things To Do To Bond With Your English Bulldog

Can an English Bulldog Fly on a Plane?

The simple answer to this question is yes…usually. An English Bulldog can fly on a plane. But there are many factors to consider before booking your next vacation with your furry flying buddy.

Most dogs will have to go into cargo underneath the plane if they are too big. While small dogs can easily fit under the seat in front of you on a flight, any bigger dogs will typically end up beneath the plane since they can’t fit in a traditional carryon location.

French Bulldogs are a bit of an easier travel companion because they are smaller and typically fit under the sit comfortably in a carrier. But the stature of an English Bulldog makes that more difficult.

The other option is buying a separate ticket for your pup. This will be the more expensive option, but the easiest and safest one to keep them close to you and not have to worry about them fitting under a small, cramped seat. Rates will vary based on the airline and their rules for pets.

Bulldogs and many other breeds will typically require a certificate of health from your veterinarian. These need to be signed off by a licensed vet within ten days of travel. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, if you are traveling with an English Bulldog puppy, they will need to be at least eight weeks old and weaned five days or more before they fly.

The Health of Your Bulldog

Before understanding the actual guidelines and rules of an airline, you want to consider the health and wellbeing of your English Bulldog. No dog should be flying if they are sick or weak from injury. Bulldogs have specific characteristics that are also important to acknowledge with their health, and we will get into those in just a bit.

Always consult with your veterinarian before taking your pup on a flight. Aside from providing a health certificate, they will also be able to offer some tips on how to help you prepare the dog for the flight and safe options for sedatives or other ways to keep your dog healthy while traveling.

They will be sure your dog is a healthy weight, their lungs and heart are in good condition, and give a full physical exam.

English Bulldogs tend to have breathing issues because of their short snout. They are a Brachycephalic breed, which means they are more prone to obstruction and problems within their airways. (For more information, UFAW offers some excellent knowledge on the Brachycephalic breed characteristics and how they can affect your dog)

These breathing issues automatically will spark more of a concern for air travel. Their long soft palate and their short nostrils can block some of the airflow and cause those breathing issues. In Bulldogs that are overall healthy, this shouldn’t be of much concern in their daily lives.

But if they have any other health issues or are known to have worse breathing habits than others, flying may be more of a risk than you should be taking. It will also depend on if your Bulldog will be able to stay with you in the cabin or go to cargo.

The cargo area will be subject to more extreme temperature changes. Those temperature changes mixed with the high altitude will be reason for concern for a dog with breathing issues. So, do everything possible to avoid having them in cargo.

Dogs regulate temperatures in their body through panting. But panting is already a harder process for Bulldogs, so when they are in extreme temperatures, it can become a serious problem. Therefore, if, for some reason, cargo ends up being your only option, it is essential to consider if the flight is worth the risk.

The best advice on the health and abilities of your English Bulldog for flying will come from your veterinarian. These are the risks associated with their breed for flying, but they may not always apply to each dog. 

As dog parents, it can be a hard decision when we want to have them with us for a trip, but it may not be in their best interest based on their health. A healthy pup is a happy pup. So, hopefully, the dog is already in excellent health, they are right in their target weight, and they don’t pose a considerable risk if they were to fly.

Checking with the Airline

Once you are sure your English Bulldog is safe to fly, you will need to check with the specific airline for their rules and regulations. Airlines all have different dimensions to consider for their seats and the space under the seats.

Some airlines may even have specific breed restrictions against flying altogether. English Bulldogs typically do not fall into those lists, but it is always better to be safe and double-check any new additions right before travel.

There will also be different costs associated with airlines depending on where the dog will be, their size, and the route of your flight. For these details, you will need to check with the airline individually.

If they are on the smaller side and able to fit under the seat, they will be charged a pet fee that hovers around $125 for most airlines. If you opt to buy them their seat, it can get a bit pricier, but worth the money if it means keeping them with you and not in cargo.

The TSA also offers some great additional information regarding flying with your pets.

How to Prepare Your Bulldog for the Flight

If you’re someone who rolls out of bed and packs the last minute in a rush to get to the airport, you will need to rework that routine significantly to have your Bulldog ready for their big flight.

Before you even get to the day of the flight, there are a lot of great ways to help get them ready for flights in their future.

  • Keep them healthy. This should be a big “duh” moment. While it is essential, no matter what, keeping your bulldog healthy year-round will help make sure they are up for the flight. When it comes to their weight, it is a multifaceted benefit.

A healthy weight will help keep them a healthy pup, but may also help in your efforts to keep them in cabin with you.

  • Crate train them. Even if you don’t need them to be crate trained at your house, this is a smart move for anyone planning on air travel with them. It will help them be calm and not freak out during their time in the crate.

Start them slow and gradually get them more and more used to being in there. Once it is flight time, it won’t be an added anxiety, and they will be comfortable in their familiar carrier.

  • Measure your carrier. While you research different crates or carriers, make sure it is going to be compliant for air travel. The size of the crate should be large enough to fit your dog comfortably, but if you are hoping to keep them in cabin with you, try to find one that is efficient in their size and doesn’t tale up any extra room.

You’ll want to know the exact size so you can plan for where your dog will need to be during flight, and also, if you can work with the airline to allow your pup inflight, you will want those numbers handy.

  • Take them on short trips. Much of the anxiety from your dog will come from the simple fact that they have no idea where they are going. If your dog is accustomed to going to the dog park, heading to your family or friend’s houses, and going on short trips in the car or maybe by train on a mini-vacation, this will all help.

A dog that only goes in the car to go to the vet is not going to be thrilled with the endeavor of air travel. Get them used to travel in shorter distances to make the process less alarming.

  • Have them microchipped. This is a solid idea even if your English Bulldog refuses to leave the house for a daily walk. A microchip will give you peace of mind that if they manage to escape, you will have a way to find them. You can ask your vet to have them chipped right in-office.

Having them chipped is extremely important if they are going to be in cargo. They will be out of your sight and care, so knowing that they are chipped will help them be found if something were to happen with the cargo luggage, and it ends up in a different place than you do.

Tip: Have the microchip tag on their collar, along with the tags with your information. And to be extra cautious, you can also leave a note on the crate that reads, “If I am lost, I have a microchip. Please take me to a local vet or animal hospital that can read it and get me back to my owner.”

Leading up to the trip, these will all be great measures to take to ease their nerves and make it a calmer experience for them. But there is still plenty to do the night before or the day of your flight.

Here is a handy checklist to keep in mind before your flight:

  1. Please make sure you have snacks and a dog water bottle for them. (Highwave makes an excellent Portable Dog Water Bottle and Bowl) Pack these in a handy compartment of your carryon luggage that you will always have with you.
  • Bring their favorite toy. You want to create a safe space for them. Anything that you can bring that will fit in the crate with them and help keep them calm will be a great way to make them feel more at home and like everything is okay.
  • Familiar scents. Your Bulldog’s sense of smell is impeccable and can help ease tensions. Please make sure the crate, any blankets inside, and toys are all things they are familiar with. Don’t spring a new blanket on them last minute. The more time they’ve had with these items, the better.
  • Label the crate with your information. It is an easy thing to forget, but it is so important. The same way that you label your suitcase, you want to label the crate. Even if you can keep them with you in cabin, you can never be too careful traveling through a busy airport with them.

Keep your information clear and visible alongside the note we mentioned earlier regarding their microchip.

  • If your vet has approved sedatives, administer them as instructed. This may not be necessary, but if your vet has approved or encouraged it, make sure you follow their instructions and administer them as needed.

You don’t want to give it to them if they don’t need it. But if they are going to have a hard time calming down or be anxious, a small dose of sedatives or CBD can help make the flight a much better experience for them.

Differences Between Cargo and In Cabin

Many people decide against traveling with their dog for the sole reason that they do not want to keep them in cargo. The stress of flying for us as humans is bad enough between security lines, rushing around terminals, and cramped inflight seating.

So, imagine that stress for your dog who has no idea where you’re going or why you’re not both at home snuggling on the couch with their favorite toy.

Your main goal during air travel with your English Bulldog should be to limit the amount of risk and stress whenever possible. English Bulldogs tend to be slightly too big for in-cabin, but not so big that it is impossible.

You should always do whatever you can to try and keep your dog with you during a flight. As pet parents, we love them like family, and we know how it feels when we can’t be near them during stressful times.

While cargo is still a safe option for healthy dogs with no outstanding issues, the conditions still need to be considered. The extreme temperatures, altitude, and unfamiliar surroundings without their human nearby can be scary for your dog.

Travel Tip: Since cargo is more exposed to extreme temperatures, try to travel during times of the year with more temperate weather if they must go in there. If you can be flexible in your travel arrangements, consider the time of year and even the time of day for these flights. The milder the weather, the more comfortable your dog will be.

Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

If your English Bulldog is a registered Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal, then you will be able to keep them in cabin with you on most major airlines for no charge. Even if they don’t fit under the seat properly, the certification will allow you to have them with you on your flight.

If you are interested in learning more about Service Dogs, The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) is an excellent resource for learning more.

Or for more information on Service Animals, has some great information on how it all works.

If you fly frequently and they are a certified support animal, make sure you have current certifications and documents with you for travel and contact the airline ahead of time to plan your trip and understand their rules regarding this.

Flying with Your English Bulldog

Research on the airline and their rules, along with proper preparation and having a healthy pup, will all help in your efforts to fly with your English Bulldog. Be sure to adhere to any guidelines given to you by your vet and do everything you can do help them be comfortable on their flight.

Make it a high priority to keep them with you. Their short snouts and breed characteristics surrounding their breathing can cause complications, so keep those big beauties right by your side whenever possible.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.