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Do Dogs’ Ears Pop on Planes? What to Know Before You Go

Chelsie Fraser

By Chelsie Fraser

Dog In Airplane Carrier

Does your dog seem to paw at their ears or seem uncomfortable when you take them on an airplane? Maybe you’re just concerned about the potential effects of flying on your pup. It turns out that the change in altitude can indeed cause discomfort in dogs. In this article, learn what happens to dogs’ ears on planes and other factors that might be contributing to their discomfort.

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What Happens to Dogs’ Ears on Planes?

If you’re a pet parent, you may have wondered what happens to your dog’s ears during a flight. Do they pop like ours do? It turns out that dogs don’t experience the same ear-popping sensation that we do when flying. Their ear anatomy is different from ours, and they don’t have the Eustachian tubes that enable air to enter and equalize the pressure in the middle ear.

However, that doesn’t mean your dog’s ears are immune to the effects of changes in cabin pressure. Their ears can also feel uncomfortable when the pressure drops. You may notice your dog shaking their head or pawing at their ears during takeoff and landing.

If your dog seems to be in pain or discomfort while flying, you can talk to your vet about giving them a mild sedative before your flight. This can help them relax and make the experience more bearable.

So, while dogs’ ears don’t technically “pop” on planes, they can still be affected by changes in cabin pressure. If you’re concerned about your pet’s comfort during a flight, be sure to talk to your vet beforehand to get tips on how to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

Things dog owners can do to reduce their pet’s ear discomfort on planes:
  • Encourage them to drink plenty of water before the flight to help keep their ears moist.
  • Have them chew on a toy or treat during takeoff and landing to help relieve any pain or discomfort.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about getting earplugs or other products that can help protect your dog’s ears during flights.
Cute dog in the window seat of plane
Image By: RyanTaylor, Shutterstock

How Dogs React to Flying on Planes

Generally speaking, dogs handle flying quite well. They may be a little anxious at first, but most will settle down once the plane takes off. That said, there are a few things that you should keep in mind to ensure that your dog has a positive experience:

  • Make sure your dog is well-hydrated before the flight. This will help minimize any discomfort from the changing cabin pressure.
  • Take your dog for a walk before boarding the plane. This will help them burn off any excess energy and hopefully prevent them from becoming overly restless during the flight.
  • If your dog is small enough, consider keeping them in their carrier throughout the flight. This will help them feel more secure and comfortable. This might also be a flight requirement, anyway, depending on the airline.
  • Be prepared to clean up after your dog if they have an accident on the plane. It’s always a possibility, even for the best-trained dog.

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Dogs’ ears don’t “pop” on planes like human ears do, but they are still susceptible to discomfort from the changes in cabin pressure. While it’s not dangerous, it’s uncomfortable. Making sure your dog is well-hydrated before flying can help reduce ear discomfort, as can giving them a chew bone or toy to keep them occupied during takeoff and landing. With a bit of preparation, you can help make your dog’s next flight a comfortable one.

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Featured Image Credit: Cameron Cross, Shutterstock

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