Tips for Flying with a Large Dog in Cabin

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If you have been approved to fly with your large dog in cabin with your for your next flight (either because your dog is an emotional support animal or service dog), there are a few things you will want to do before and during the flight to make sure you are all comfortable!

image with text overlay: what you need to do before flying with your dog in cabin

Flying can be a stressful experience, even for the most calm of dogs. It’s loud, cramped and there are a ton of new smells. Not to mention, a large dog isn’t going to have a little safe space (or carrier to sleep in) like a small dog could.

Let’s talk about a few things you an do beforehand to make sure your pooch isn’t going to feel overwhelmed with the flight!


A couple months before you fly, you will want to get your paperwork in order and make sure your dog is fit to fly. Here are a few things you should do before your large dog flies in cabin with you.

Get Vet Records/Any Other Paperwork Required

First things first, the paperwork.

The paperwork you need will depend whether your trip is domestic or international. Your dog will likely need a letter from the vet stating that he or she is fit to fly, but your vet should be able to tell you exactly what you need. If you are traveling internationally you will likely need specific vaccinations, Government stamped paperwork and updated vet records.

Some of the vaccinations also need to be administered a certain number of days before you travel, and some countries you fly into require a specific type of microchip (ISO compatible) implanted on your dog.

If you plan to fly internationally, give yourself ample time to collect all the necessary paperwork.

Call The Airline

If you are flying with a large dog, contact the airline leading up to the flight to:

  1. make sure your dog is booked in (and allowed) on the flight
  2. see if you are able to get seats with a little extra leg room for your 4-legged friend

Your dog will likely be asked to lay at your feet, and if he/she is fairly big, having a couple extra inches of leg room will help both of you feel less cramped!

Some airlines will also accommodate you in other ways, you just need to ask! For example, when I flew with my ESA from Canada to Europe, we weren’t able to book the bulkhead seats, but the flight wasn’t full and the airline was able to give us our own row for our long 8 hour flight.

I fully understand that not everyone around me loves dogs (some are allergic, some have had fearful experiences in the past) and so I want to make sure that when I fly with my dog, everyone around me is comfortable as well. Being able to sit off by ourselves was a big bonus.

Research Connecting Airports

If your flight has a layover, call and ask what types of facilities they have for dogs. Some have dog rest-areas that include real or fake grass where you can take your dog to go to the bathroom.

Some airports don’t, and if you want to take your dog to the bathroom you will need to speak with the airport and arrange something.

We usually fly through Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and unfortunately they don’t have a rest area for dogs (which actually surprises me as it’s such a huge airport…). We were told if we want to take our dog to the bathroom, we would need to un-check all of our luggage, leave the airport and re-check in.

So double check beforehand what you will need to do!

Day Of The Flight

Assuming you have all the paperwork in order and your dog is booked to fly in cabin with you, there are some things you will need to do on the day of the flight!

Exercise Your Dog Before The Flight

Whether your dog will be flying in cabin or in cargo, they will need to be exercised beforehand, as they will need to remain calm, and will be likely required to lay down (or sit, if there is room) for the duration of the flight.

Limit Food And Water

Try to limit the amount of food and water your dog gets before the flight in order to avoid any accidents or upset tummies!

Stock Up On Supplies

Certain supplies with make your flight with your dog easier while in cabin! I have a list of supplies for your emotional support animal that you should look into when flying with them, but in summary:

Some airlines also require your dog to wear a muzzle. If that is the case, please make sure you are doing proper muzzle-training prior to flying so your dog knows the muzzle isn’t punishment!

Bathroom Break

Right before you check-in, take your dog on one last bathroom break. This is the last chance they will have to go to the bathroom before you take off (unless your airport has special rooms designated for dogs past security).

I hope this article will help you the next time you need to fly with your emotional support animal or large dog in cabin!

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Veterinary Disclaimer: is not a substitute for veterinary advice and does not intend to provide any type of veterinary advice for your animals. Please consult your vet for any questions you have regarding your pets health.