traveling emotional support animal

What You Should Know Before Traveling With An ESA

In Airlines, Dogs, other by Emotional Pet Support Team1 Comment

Traveling with an emotional support dog can give you a renewed sense of empowerment. It can make you feel that you can accomplish things that you were not confident about before. Traveling with an emotional support dog can have many advantages. Unlike other dogs, they can accompany you everywhere that you go, even to places that do not allow pets. But since they are not specially trained, you must carry your Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letter that you got from a licensed medical health professional. Before you travel, you should read up a little about the laws and rights that allow your emotional support dog to accompany you where other pets cannot go. You can also use any mode of transportation, such as airplanes, trains, buses, and ferries. Traveling with an animal can be stressful for anyone, irrespective of their mental well-being. That is why in this article, we are going to discuss some of the things you must pack when traveling with your emotional support dog, and how to prepare it before a ride on public transport.

What to Pack?

Your ESA Letter

It is the most important thing on your checklist. Your ESA letter will allow you to bring your dog along on any mode of transportation, and even board an airplane. Authorities would want to see your ESA letter before they allow your dog to enter the transport. If you are traveling by airplane, it is best to inform them beforehand that you will be traveling with an emotional support animal. An ESA letter is usually valid for a year, so make sure that the one you carry has not expired yet. You must remember that the Air Carrier Access Act gives you the right to travel with your support dog only if you can present a valid ESA letter.


Along with your medications, you must also pack a few essential medicines for your dog. Your dog might not be used to travel by air, or it might get stressed by crowded places such as terminals or ferries. You can carry some lavender oil or pheromone sprays that can soothe your dog while traveling. You can also feed some Benadryl to make your dog sleepy during travel. But ensure that you get the correct dose from your vet before you give any medicines to your dog. While traveling, your pet might get exposed to parasites, so make sure you carry some worm medications, such as Revolution flea and heartworm medication for dogs. You should also bring some essential medicines for nausea and diarrhea.

A Leash

Although your emotional support dog must not be put on a leash at home, putting it on a leash while traveling is a good idea. Your dog can get over-excited or nervous around people, so having it on a leash will help you control it better. It might not be pleasant for the dog, but it is essential for both you and your dog’s well-being during travel.

dog traveling

Bedding or a Blanket

Unfamiliar places can make a dog feel stressed or anxious, and they will not be able to provide you the emotional support in times of need. Keeping a piece of bedding or a blanket that it is familiar with will ensure that it stays calm enough to help you when it needs to. The bedding or blanket will also help your dog sleep peacefully at night.

A Travel Carrier

Although a travel carrier is an essential and obvious thing to bring while traveling, you might forget it due to the pre-travel stress. That is why you must put it in the checklist of things to carry with you. Your emotional support dog might not need to be inside a carrier, especially if it is a large breed. But smaller dogs often get stressed during travel, especially if it is the first time. So a carrier might come in handy if your dog feels too stressed or jittery.

Something to Clean up With

No matter how well-trained your dog is, accidents can happen anytime, especially if it feels stressed during travel. That is why you must have something at hand to clean up without causing discomfort to fellow passengers.

How to Prepare Before Traveling on Public Transport?

It is necessary to prepare your emotional support dog before you travel on an airplane, bus, or ferry so that you do not have to deal with much inconvenience.

Call the Airline

Once you have booked your tickets, make sure that you give them a follow-up call to provide the information that you will be traveling with an emotional support dog, so that they can make arrangements if necessary. If you need more room for a big dog, let them know in advance.

Exercise Your Dog

Make sure that you exercise your dog for about an hour before travel, so that the energy reserves are depleted. It will make sure that your dog is less active during the travel on the airplane or ferry. You have to remember that your dog will be waiting at the gate while you go through the security check, so exercising it beforehand will ensure that it stays calm.

Do Not Feed Your Dog

Unless you are ready to clean up some poop on the transport, do not feed your dog before the flight. Dogs can also feel motion sickness, and that is why a full stomach might induce nausea or vomiting. Also, limit their water intake before the flight, and make sure that they empty their bladder before you start your travel. If your journey begins in the early morning, feed your dog the night before, and give it just a little water in the morning. Do not feed anything unusual to eat or drink within 48 hrs of the travel. It is to ensure that your dog does not get any allergic reaction to the new edible. New food or treats can take some time to get used to, so feeding them something new can upset their stomach or bowel movement.

Making a checklist and taking adequate preparations before any form of travel with your emotional support dog will ensure that you do not face any troubles. It will ensure that both you and your dog have a good time during your travels.


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