Psychiatric Service Dogs

How to Fly with a Large Emotional Support or Service Dog

If you suffer from travel anxiety, flying on an airplane is already extremely stressful. Thankfully, having your emotional support animal with you can bring you peace and comfort, even in the chaos of the airport. However, if you have an exceptionally large emotional support dog, navigating the airport may be challenging. Here are some tips on how to fly with a large emotional support dog or service dog.

Airline Rules
In December of 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a new set of rules which allow airlines to decline emotional support animals on their flights. However, there are some airlines that will still allow ESAs with proper documentation. Here is a helpful list of the airports which are still accepting ESAs. This new rule does not include service dogs, which are still allowed on flights.

Some airlines have specific rules regarding the size of emotional support animals allowed. Usually, these rules require an emotional support animal to either sit in the space between seats, under the seat or in the passenger’s lap. If your dog is larger than this, check with the airline to see what accommodation they can provide for you. These rules about size exist to prevent animals that will block the main walkway or block emergency exits, as this could potentially cause a safety problem.

Letter of Certification
Before going to the airport, make sure you have an emotional support animal letter of certification-ready to go. To get this documentation, you will need a licensed medical professional to validate your need for one and provide you with a letter. You can quickly get one at United Support Animals. Our staff of licensed professionals will be happy to help you. Before you go, check with the airline and carefully follow all their rules and guidelines.

Prepare Your Dog
Make sure your dog is ready for a long flight by taking it out for some exercise. During your flight, your dog will have to sit still for a long period of time, so getting all its pent-up energy out beforehand will make this easier for your dog to handle. Also, train your dog thoroughly to ensure it stays well-behaved, even in the chaos of the airport.

Limit your dog’s food and water intake before travel. Many dogs suffer from motion sickness while flying, so this will help prevent your ESA from feeling nauseous during flight. It will also prevent your dog from having to use the restroom during travel.

Make sure to scout out pet relief stations at the airport in advance so that you can reach them before and after flights. Also, see if there are any dog parks nearby for your dog to run around.

Items to Bring
You can bring several items that will help make the experience easier and more enjoyable for your furry friend. Bring a blanket for your pet to lay on, which will also provide comforting scents from home. Also, carry along a collapsible travel bowl if your pet needs water, pee pads for if they need to relieve themselves, and Benadryl for pets to treat motion sickness. Additionally, you may want to consider purchasing a thunder shirt, as many dogs find comfort from wearing these during flight. These shirts work by applying pressure, creating a calming effect on animals.

Traveling with a large emotional support dog may be more challenging than flying with a smaller dog. There will be far fewer airlines who will be willing to accommodate you, especially under the recent rule changes. Beforehand, make sure to do your research, and find the right airline for you. Prepare your dog in advance for travel so that things will go smoothly. Pack your bag with all the essentials your ESA might need, and most importantly, make sure you have up-to-date documentation for your emotional support animal. You can get an emotional support animal letter of certification at United Support Animal today. Contact us, and we will be glad to help you.