I would like to take my friend and his dog for a flight. What's the safest way to take the dog? and what's a good way to protect the dog's hearing?
My wife and I have a small dog that frequently travels with us. We place her in a soft-sided kennel that straps onto the seat belt. While this doesn't do anything to help in a sudden impact (i.e. crash), it does help to keep her from being bumped around in case of turbulence. For larger dogs, I know that there are seat belt tethers out there. My suggestion would be to strap them to a rear seat. In either case, the big issue is to ensure they don't get in the way while operating the aircraft.
As for the hearing part, a company called Safe and Sound Pets makes a product called Mutt Muffs. Their website is here. My wife and I bought a pair, but our dog wouldn't have anything to do with them and they were returned. Of course, your dog may be better behaved :D
When you are flying with pets, there are certain things you need to consider which aren't normally considered when flying with people.
Depending on the size and weight of a pet, a suitable carrier in which they can fit in is needed. You also need to make sure that this carrier must be able to fit in the plane and be secured. If the pet is large and cannot fit in carrier which can in the plane, a pet harness that can be secured to seat belts or seat belt attachment points can also be considered. It should be an approved car safety transport harness.
Some general guidelines are:
- The pet should be secured.
- Allow the animals to relieve themselves before being loaded.
- As soon as the trip is complete provide water and some nutrition for the animals.
- It is very important to always clear the seats and plane after the journey. Dogs are very susceptible to parvovirus.
- Animals do not know that swallowing and yawning will help their ears in altitude changes like the humans. Hence, it is better the minimize the rate of climbs and descents to minimize discomfort to animals.
AOPA has an excellent and detailed article about flying with pets. For the hearing issue, they state:
... [by putting cotton in ears, it can] stuck in the wax of the ears and cause problems. The better option is to use pillow foam instead of cotton. Pillow foam is similar to what earplugs are made out of and is not as likely to get stuck in the ears.
I hope that your journey won't go like this:
My dog flies with his Mutt Muffs.
In a pinch, you can also put cotton balls in a dogs ears. Carefully put them in enough that he cannot paw them out, but not so far as to get into the sensitive parts.