CAN I BRING PET FOOD ON AN AIRPLANE to the US-Companion Pet Travel

Yes, you can bring pet food on a plane. Follow the TSA 3-1-1 Rule. There are stricter limits on “wet” than “dry” food. “Moist” food=dry food. Try Moist Pouches and dehydrated food. No exception for prescription food or food for Service Dogs. Separate pet food from your bags at the check point.

TSA (Transportation Security Administration) says

YES, You Can Bring Pet Food On A Plane With Limitations:

WET FOOD:  must follow TSA’s 3-1-1 Rule

3-1-1 Liquids Rule for a carry on bag on a plane is:  3.4oz./100ml, per 1 container, in a 1 quart-sized clear baggie.  Passengers can bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint, limited to 3.4 ounces or less per item.

  • Wet Cat or Dog Food on a Plane:
  • Most cans of Cat Food are 3.4 ounces and may not make it past security.
  • “Moist” is considered “Dry” by TSA and a good alternative.
  • Try to bring moist food pouches instead of canned cat food. They are easier to clean up after—no cans with sharp edges and less smell.
  • Remember to pack your Cat’s favorite flavor that has the mildest scent—least smelly. Can Tuna is not a good choice—it’s smell is too strong.
  • Dehydrated pet food weighs less than regular if your pet tolerates the difference. Bring some as a back up
  • Bring wipes to clean out dish before landing.

TIP:  If you are not sure, simply snap a picture or send a question to AskTSA on Facebook Messenger or Twitter from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET weekdays; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends/holidays.  They are surprisingly responsive.  They really want to make your trip as smooth as possible.

DRY FOOD:  TSA does not limit the quantity of pet food you can bring in checked bag; however, the TSA officer has a lot of discretion. Food, pet or otherwise, can obscure x-ray screening so, they are subject to higher scrutiny.  So, keep only 1 or 2 meals worth of kibble in 1 quart bags.  For checked bags, it is best to bring pet food in its original, sealed package.     

  • Prescription pet food: No exception for prescriptions
  • Service Dogs: No exception for Service Dogs

How Do You Pack Pet Food For Airplane Travel?

Carry-On: Use 1 quart bags, Separate 1-quart bags in bin for inspection. Pet food and other food can disguise/obscure other items in your bag, so TSA Officers will inspect more carefully.  Keeping them out until you pass through TSA allows you to move faster.

Checked Bag:  Try to keep as much in the original, sealed package.  Self-packaged containers should list the contents, weight, and origin.  Consider tearing off the label from the original package and stick it on or in your packaging. 

What Else Should I Bring on a Plane for a Pet?

  • Travel Kitty Litter Box—Disposable—any small carboard or fabric box works.
  • Wet-wipes
  • Plastic Bags for disposing kitty litter and pet food cans or pouches.
  • Leash and collar/harness without metal clasps or id/Rabies tags.
  • Blanket or Cooling Mat. It can get stuffy under the seat.

How to Get Through TSA Security Check Point with Your Pet

  • Your pet must go through TSA Security. Some airports allow a private screening in a separate room so you can remove and replace your pet in a secure room.
  • You can either have your pet on a leash and walk them into the screener or carry your pet through.
  • Place your Bags, shoes first. Separate your pet food items and electronics in another bin.
  • Keep your lease/harness on the outside of the carrier. When you put your bags on the conveyor belt, you don’t want to scramble to get your leash.
  • TSA may ask you to remove their collar. Collars with metal such clasps or Rabies Tags will be detected, and you may be subject to additional pat-down or inspection.
  • A Velcro-type harness works well instead of a collar with metal.
  • Put the carrier on the x-ray conveyor belt first so, it is ready when you get through security, and you don’t have to wait to put your pet back in its carrier.
  • Even for Cats that you intend to carry through, have a harness/leash on them. If you are picked for screening, often TSA Agents may not easily let you place your pet back in the carrier before your pat-down.
  • Working Canines are regularly at Security Check Points. Keep a leash handy even if you intend to carry your pet through x-ray. Often, the presence of a working dog can scare or spook your pet.

TIP: Go to the Pet Relief Area first. The best-equipped are usually before TSA Security. And, if the Pet Relief area on your concourse is not close to your gate, or you are running late after getting through TSA Security, you will want to visit.

What Other Food Can Be Prohibited/Banned From Travel On A Plane?

While you are bringing your pet food on an airplane here are most of the less-obvious foods you cannot bring for human consumption

  • Ice Packs that have melted—convert themselves to a liquid, follow the 3-1-1 Rule.
  • Peanut Butter, Nutella or other Nut Spreads in carry-on bag are a liquid, follow the 3-1-1 Rule.
  • Cheese in carry-on bag—soft cheeses such as brie or goat are considered a liquid–follow the 3-1-1 Rule.
  • Cupcakes in a Jar—popular during the holidays are considered a liquid, follow the 3-1-1 Rule.
  • Alcohol over 140 proof in carry-on bag. Over 140 proof and it must be checked. Alcohol under 70 proof can go carry-on
  • This one is funny–Frosting by itself is a liquid, follow the 3-1-1 Rule and a Frosted/Iced Cake or cupcake is allowed.

You can get through TSA security with your Pet fastest by placing the carrier and food on the x-ray conveyor belt and carry or walk your pet through with a non-metal leash and collar or harness. Pet food should be separated from your luggage along with electronics and shoes.

Published by Stephanie Fling

Everything Pet Travel Related by Air, Sea and Land.

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