"For about three days afterwards she was trembling and just really freaked out," says Mandy Sayer of Coco's debut flight.
The Sydney author, who takes her beloved pooch on family holidays to Byron Bay, found the experience daunting and emotional.
"Every little bump in the plane my heart leapt," she says, recalling being filled with worry.
But those days are long gone and Coco is now a seasoned traveller. On their most recent trip to the NSW north coast, she even walked herself up to the dog check-in.
Vet and television presenter Chris Brown says Ms Sayer's reaction is not uncommon for dog owners, who each year face the question of what to do with their pets when the family goes on vacation.
"A person's fear of travelling is only matched by a person's fear of their pet travelling," says Dr Brown, who admits to pre-flight nerves when flying with his Kelpie companion, Rusty.
"People get really freaked out about the idea ... and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people don't know what condition their pet is in.
"It's a big mystery."
While it may not be an exact science, he says most dogs and cats will cope with flying as checked baggage. However other experts warn against it, citing dangers such as overheating, freezing or suffocating in the cargo hold, or being mishandled, lost or let loose.
Currently there are no legally enforceable safety standards for pets travelling on domestic flights within Australia and the RSPCA is calling for swift improvements.The charity organisation has a bank of stories that would make you shudder. In one case, a dog was killed when it was run over on the runway after escaping from its cage, while another was left too long on the tarmac in hot weather and died from heat stress.
A Brisbane man recently claimed a major airline lost his dog but then said it had died without ever producing a body. And Ms Sayer says her husband's two chihuahuas once turned up in a Perth pound days after being put on the wrong plane.
"Clearly there are problems," RSPCA scientific officer and vet Jade Norris told AAP. "I think it's important to ask questions. Talk to the airline, find out what systems they have in place and make sure the process is safe."
Dr Norris recommends your dog have a health check-up before the trip and ensure it's well hydrated.
She also urges caution when using pet travel companies - which are often more convenient but offload responsibility once the animal is checked in - and says to avoid flying during summer months.
But that's not always possible either.
Jill and David Ravens were forced to fly cocker spaniel Pablo and cat Saskia the five hours to Darwin when they packed up their Sydney life for a one-year stint up north. On arrival Saskia was struggling to breathe and they feared she was convulsing. Pablo, on the other hand, wasn't the least bit traumatised and was even spotted wagging his tail on the tarmac.
"I was very apprehensive about it but I had been reassured that they weren't just thrown in with the luggage," Ms Ravens said. "I think it is quite important to remind yourself that they are animals. I know we love them very much - we all do - but they are very resilient. At the end of the day, they survived and didn't come out damaged (and) it was actually cheaper than having the removalist do it, so I would say go ahead and do it."
Some airlines allow pets to travel under the free baggage allowance, while others charge between $55-$100, depending on the animal's size.
They are transported in a special crate and earlier check-in times apply, often up to 90 minutes prior to boarding. Most carriers also have requirements for short-snouted dogs susceptible to breathing problems, such as pugs, and dogs under the age of eight weeks aren't allowed to fly.
Some might say dog owners in Australia have a raw deal compared to those in the US and parts of Europe where certain carriers allow small canines to travel in the cabin - stowed under the seat in front of you.
One European airline has even launched a luxury travel lounge which it says offers state-of-the-art care, handling, feeding and shelter facilities for animals ranging from polar bears to tropical fish.
Dog owners down under will have to make do with the limited services on offer and accept the fact that there will never be any guarantees.
If you're still agonising over whether or not to take the risk, the ultimate test, according to Dr Brown, is to pack Fido into a box and go for a spin in the car at night.
A happy dog means book your ticket. Anything else, and you should probably leave him with friends or send him on his own holiday at a boarding kennel for pampered pets.
"If we can do the research and planning, as well as give them a taste of what it's going to be like, then I think you stand the best chance of minimising stress," Dr Brown said.
"And that's the most important thing."