Traveling by Air With Your Pet
Dogs, cats, and most other warm-blooded animals
transported by air are protected by the Animal Welfare
Act. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS)—an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—enforces this law.
APHIS’ shipping regulations help assure that animals
are treated humanely by airlines as well as animal
dealers, exhibitors, and research laboratories. Pet
exhibitors, owners, and other shippers also are affected
by the regulations established to protect the well-being
and safety of animals in transit.
Airlines transport animals in the cargo compartment of
the plane, but some airlines allow passengers to
transport small animals in the cabin as carry-on luggage. The pet must be placed in a kennel that is
comfortable yet small enough to fit under the passenger’s seat. Carry-on pets are not protected by the
Animal Welfare Act. For specific airline requirements,
contact the airline.
Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old and must
have been weaned before traveling with the airlines.
Kennels must meet minimum standards for size,
strength, sanitation and ventilation.
• Size and strength—Kennels must be enclosed and
allow room for the animal to stand, sit, breathe, and
rest comfortably. They must be easy to open, strong
enough to withstand the stress of shipping, and free of
objects that could injure the animal.
• Sanitation—Kennels must have a solid, leak-proof
floor that is covered with litter or absorbent lining.
Wire or other ventilated subfloors are generally
allowed; pegboard flooring is prohibited. This provides the maximum cleanliness for the animal in
• Ventilation—Kennels must be well ventilated with
openings that make up at least 14 percent of the total
wall space. At least one-third of the openings must be
located in the top half of the kennel. Kennels also
must have rims to prevent ventilation openings from
being blocked by other shipments. These rims
usually placed on the sides of the kennel—must
provide at least three-quarters of an inch clearance.
• Grips and markings—Kennels must have grips or
handles for lifting to prevent cargo workers from being
bitten. Kennels also must be labeled “live animals” or
“wild animals” on the top and one side with directional
arrows indicating the upright position of the kennel.
Lettering must be at least 1 inch high.
• Animals per kennel—Each species must have its
own kennel with the exception of compatible personal
pets of similar size. Maximum numbers include 2
puppies or kittens under 6 months old and under 20
pounds each, 15 guinea pigs or rabbits, and 50