Last Updated on April 6, 2022
As they say, dogs are man’s best friend.
Perhaps that’s why many people choose to travel with their small dog under their seat in a pet carrier.
But can you take dog food through airport security and if so how much dog food can you bring?
Let’s find out.
TSA Dog Food Rules
The Transportation Security Administration runs the security checkpoint. They decide what can and can’t be brought on to the plane or stored in checked baggage.
They have two relevant pet food rules about how to pack dog food when traveling.
You can bring solid dry dog food on a plane in either checked baggage or carry-on bags in unlimited quantities. You just need to make sure you don’t go over your airlines luggage size or weight limits.
Wet dog food is treated differently than solid dog food.
Wet dog food is considered to be a liquid by the TSA.
For carry-on luggage, you can pack wet dog food in containers smaller than 3.4 oz and they must be packed in your one quart size toiletries bag. The rules about prescription dog food are not very clear. The TSA website says that you can’t bring prescription dog food in oversize cans, but on Twitter they say that prescription dog food is allowed through the checkpoint in cans larger than 3.4 oz.
I asked the TSA to clarify:
They confirmed that despite what their website says, you can bring prescription dog food in containers larger than 3.4 ounces.
A standard full size can of wet dog food is 13 oz so it’s much too big to be packed in carry-on luggage.
Keep in mind that small cans of non-prescription wet dog food packed in hand luggage MUST be packed in your quart size bag so they’ll take up space that you usually use for your toothpaste and shampoo.
But I know you love your dog so I found these 3 oz Purina dog food cans for small dogs that you can pack in your carry-on luggage in your toiletries bag.
The liquids rule does not apply to checked baggage that is stored in the aircraft’s cargo hold, so you can pack as much wet dog food in your checked suitcase as you can fit while staying under your airlines weight limit.
If your dog doesn’t eat dry dog food remember that’s it’s only wet dog food that is an issue.
Here’s where the line is drawn.
If dog food is solid it’s permitted, if it can be spread or smeared it counts as a liquid.
Because commercial canned dog food can usually be spread or smeared it counts as a liquid and so is limited to 3.4 oz in carry-on baggage.
But meat is considered to be a solid food by the TSA. So if your dog likes to eat chicken or pork chops then you can bring meat through the security checkpoint for your dog to eat.
You can also bring cooked rice, and whole fresh fruits and vegetables on the plane for your dog to eat. Once the vegatables are mashed they are considered to be liquids. It’s probably best to pack it in an airtight container.
One homemade dog food recipe I checked called for meat, rice, vegetables, and a little oil. Only the oil would need to be packed in your quart size bag when going through the security checkpoint.
The TSA Officers at the checkpoint always have the final say on what is allowed through. They might also instruct travelers to separate items that obstruct clear images on the x-ray machine.
Still Unsure? Ask The TSA
If you have a more specific questions about bringing dog food on a plane you can ask the TSA on Twitter. They usually respond pretty quickly.
Bernie wanted to bring canned prescription dog food that was moist in his carry-on bag.
Because it was prescription dog food the usual 3.4 limit did not apply. He simply had to put the can in a separate bin for x-ray screening.
Another way to get around the limits for wet dog food in carry-on luggage is to freeze it.
Frozen dog food is allowed in carry-on bags and may exceed 3.4oz per container as long as it’s completely frozen solid when presented for screening. If it’s slightly melted, slushy or there’s liquid in the bottom of the container, it must follow the liquids rule of 3.4 oz or less.
Frozen dog food is good to go in checked bags, with no size or quantity restrictions, and it doesn’t matter if it’s slightly melted or slushy.
Corrine asked about bringing food for her service dog:
The rules about flying with dog food are the same for service animals. If it’s not considered solid food you will only be able to pack a 3.4 oz container and you’ll need to pack it inside your plastic quart-size bag.
Mary was flying on Jetblue and wanted to bring some dog treats for her little dog:
The rules are the same for dog treats. Dry treats are fine and wet or spreadable treats are limited to 3.4 oz containers.
Carla wanted to bring prescription dog food for her daughters service dog:
Medically necessary dog food is good to go in carry-on baggage and checked baggage.
The Bottom Line
Commercial dog food that comes in a can is considered to be a liquid so for security reasons it is limited to 3.4 oz containers in carry-on bags unless it is prescription pet food. You don’t need any documents from the vet to prove that the wet food is medically exempt.
Dry food is considered to be solid food and you can pack it anywhere you like, but be sure to double check how much food you can pack without going over any carry-on weight limits or checked luggage weight limits for luggage that your airline imposes.