You’ve got your suitcase and boarding pass and are all set for your first ever flight with your dog. But I know that there’s one nagging question you have in the back of your mind; how do dogs pee on planes, and if they can, where do they pee?
You might be lucky enough to not have to worry about your dog needing the bathroom on a plane that’s only in the air for under an hour. But for longer flights, it’s almost inevitable that your dog will need a pee (or even poop).
So, what do you do if your dog is desperate for a pee one hour into the flight?
Here’s the short answer first. I will then include detail on how you can best help your dog go to the bathroom on a plane whilst minimizing your anxiety, your dog’s stress, and any potential disruption to other passengers.
Where do dogs pee on planes? Dogs will typically have to pee on a pad or towel in their crate when flying on a plane. Most airlines don’t allow dogs out of their crate or out from under the seat and walking into the cabin during flight.
Whether you are taking your dog on a long-haul flight or don’t have any puppy pads with you, it’s important you try and avoid you dog needing the bathroom. It can be stressful for the both of you, can be unhygienic, and possibly even smelly if it’s a poop.
Handy Hint: You can buy cheap puppy pads on Amazon which are big enough for most dogs to sit on and pee. Check the Amazon own brand puppy pads here.
Here’s what to do if your dog has to go to the bathroom on a plane.
How do dogs pee on planes?
If this is your first time flying with your dog, don’t panic! This guide will tell you everything you need to know so that your and your dog’s air adventure is as smooth sailing as possible.
As well as trying to navigate rules and regulations like puppy passports and dog-friendly airlines, you also need to consider more logistical issues such as toileting, especially if you and your dog are on a long-haul flight.
Hopefully your dog will not need to go the bathroom, but if he does, here’s how you can deal with how your dog pees on a plane.
Handy Hint: Another fear you will have is what happens if your dog decides to start barking during a flight. Here’s what I’ve seen happen and what you can do to try and prevent it.
Where do dogs pee on planes?
A lot of first-time pet flyers assume that their dog can go with them into the bathroom when it’s time for them to do their business. Unfortunately, this is typically not the case.
The majority of airlines have a strict policy wherein dogs need to either be in a cage or be under your seat during flight.
In fact, some flights I have been on have even insisted that pets get taken in their crates down into the hold instead with the baggage (don’t worry, there is oxygen down there).
This means that dogs will usually have to pee on a puppy training pad in their crate or placed on the floor by your feet – with plenty of absorbent material underneath.
Some airlines will let you take your dog to the bathroom on the plane. If this is the case, take a pad with you to put on the floor in there and make sure you have an aisle seat so you can get up quickly when he needs to go.
Where do service dogs go to the bathroom on a plane?
This is the case even if you are bringing a service dog onto the plane for assistance purposes. There are no exceptions with most airlines.
If you bring an assistance dog onto a plane, it would be expected for them to be similarly crated under your seat and for the cabin crew to guide you to the toilet where necessary.
How do dogs go to the bathroom on a plane?
In terms of practicality, if you expect the flight to be longer than a couple of hours, it is better to have your dog crated under your seat as opposed to having them just sitting on a puppy pad or absorbent dog bed.
The former is more hygienic because it reduces the chance of staining on the airplane carpet, which can then lead to an unpleasant, lingering smell as well as a disgruntled cabin crew or passengers.
Inside your dog’s crate, it is advisable that you line it with puppy training pads so that any urine can be absorbed any smell can be masked. For added protection, you can also put a waterproof dog bed underneath the training pads.
If you want to keep things hygienic throughout the flight, you can discuss with the cabin crew about ways you can dispose of used training pads. They should be more than happy to help you providing you’ve secured the soiled pads into doggy poo bags first.
Handy Hint: Some dogs will smell like pee all of the time, and it can be due to a range of reasons, all of which I explain in this guide.
How to avoid a dog peeing or pooping on a plane
The ideal situation will be that your dog does not need to pee on a place at all. Pooping should certainly be avoided for obvious reasons!
But how do you stop a dog from peeing on a plane, so you don’t have to deal with the mess and inconvenience?
The most obvious tip first to avoid having to ask where dogs pee on planes is to stop them from drinking at least two hours before the flight… and then make sure they have a pee before they get on the plane.
You should also be sure to give them one last opportunity to go to the toilet once you’ve passed security and before you board the plane.
Where do dogs pee in airports?
That means you should get your dog to pee in the airport. You might have to do the whole puppy pad thing again, taking your dog with you into a cubicle depending on where you are in the airport.
However, many airports around the United States are now making things a lot more dog-friendly with dedicated animal relief stations in the airports. Many of them even have paw prints on the door, with a fake fire hydrant in there!
JFK is one such airport with a bathroom for dogs to pee in. The NBC Boston website reported the following in 2016:
“The 70-square-foot room, at JFK’s sprawling Terminal 4, allows dogs and other animals to relieve themselves without needing to exit the building to find a place to go outside — a step that requires an annoying second trip through the security line. A federal regulation will require that all airports that service over 10,000 passengers per year install a pet relief area in every terminal by this August.”
What to do if your dog poops on a plane?
But how about the worse possible scenario?
It’s one thing knowing where dogs pee on planes, but a poop is a whole new level.
The bottom line is (no pun intended), you want to avoid your dog having bowel movements resulting in a poop on the plane. Avoid feeding your dog a few hours before the flight. This can also stop your dog from experiencing motion sickness.
If your dog does poop on a plane, I’d suggest talking with cabin crew. They will be able to advise you on whether you can use the bathroom to clean the situation up.
How long can dogs hold their pee?
A healthy adult dog should be able to hold their pee for about 6 to 8 hours. This means that if you are seeking to fly for longer than 8 hours, you should either leave your dog at home or be prepared for them to relieve themselves on training pads during the flight.
When it comes to puppies, it is more complicated. Generally speaking, puppies can hold their bladder for one hour for every month of age. So, if your puppy is 4 months old, they will only be able to hold their bladders for 4 hours before peeing on a plane.
If your dog is over 7 years old, they are classified as senior dogs. It is expected that a senior dog between the ages of 7 and 12 will be able to hold their bladders for 4 to 6 hours, whilst senior dogs aged 12 and above will only be able to hold their bladder for 2 to 4 hours.
Other factors will also affect how long dogs can hold their bladder, such as anxiety and health issues. For example, if your dog gets anxious from travel, it is likely that they will pee more than they usually do.
Furthermore, if your dog has health issues such as incontinence, it is likely that it’ll be more difficult to manage on a plane.
Airline policies on dogs
Given that all airlines are different about how dogs can pee on planes, it pays to check ahead with the individual airline. Here is a list of some of the most popular airlines that allow dogs on board.
Where possible I’ve linked to their policy on pets and dogs. Every airline has its own separate rules and regulations around dogs on board.
- Air Canada
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Flying with your dog can be an amazing experience, particularly if it always breaks your heart to leave them behind on vacations and business trips.
However, the main stress point is typically is how and where your dog will pee on the plane. But dogs are surprisingly adaptable creatures, and you can be secure in the knowledge that they’ll ultimately be okay even miles up in the air if they have to use a pad.
After all… if you got to go, you got to go.
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