Having a service dog (SD) shouldn’t keep you from taking that dream vacation or
visiting friends and family far away. If you have never flown with your SD before, it
can be a little scary, but do not fret, this blog is here to help. If your SD is
comfortable on a long car ride, train, bus, or subway, a plane ride should be no
When you book your ticket, make sure you let the airline know you will be traveling with a SD. This can be done online during the purchase process. You are also allowed to have a carry on and checked bag for your SDs food and supplies at no extra charge. Like a wheelchair or oxygen tank, SDs are legally considered medical equipment. Always allow plenty of time to check-in and get through security. At a large airport such as Los Angeles International, this process can take 2 hours or more. Be sure to arrive at the gate in time for disabled passenger pre-boarding, which is usually 30-45 minutes before departure time. Pre-boarding will allow you and your SD to get settled before general boarding begins. If you are prepared and follow these tips, your trip should be smooth ‘sailing’ for you and your partner, even if the flight is turbulent.
- Cut off food and water the night before. Skip the morning feeding and instead give your pup a little water the morning of travel.
- Inflight you can feed your SD a few treats if you wish, but make sure to give ice or small amounts of water to keep hydrated. Keep in mind, you will be traveling at an elevation of 30,000 feet. Dehydration is very common at altitudes.
- Have a toy and a blanket or travel bed for your pup, airplane floors are not regularly cleaned and can be very gross… think about it – or not!
- Don’t depend on pet relief areas in airports, many dogs can be picky about where they do their business, and these areas may not be very clean. You can also train your SD to use puppy pads in case of a potty emergency. They are also handy for clean-up in case your dog gets sick, has an accident, or throws up. Like humans, dogs can get airsick.
- Pack a carry on ‘go bag’ for your SD with at least 1-2 days’ worth of food, collapsible bowls, extra leash, first aid kit – including Dramamine ™ and Pepto Bismol ™ chewable tablets, doggy wet-wipes, a refillable water bottle, treats, a toy, puppy pads, poop bags, and any other essentials you may need in case of a missed connection, delay, or other situation where you may be separated from your checked bags for an extended time. Unfortunately, lost luggage is more common that you’d think, however, it is usually located within a day or two.
So go ahead, book your ticket and take that trip. Remember that preparedness is
everything. Don’t forget the poop bags!
Jen Bye -Musician, writer, proud handler of Sir Buckley, and very satisfied Amazing Tails client
Dramamine for dogs:
Pepto Bismol for dogs: