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by Dr. Becky Spelman on 15/11/2017


Through companionship and affection, emotional support animals can alleviate symptoms that you may be experiencing, impacting negatively on your life. Choosing to have an animal that provides you with emotional support can be a difficult decision to make, if you’re not sure if it’s a viable option for you and the symptoms you’re affected by, our professional team are on hand to help. Usually emotional support animals come in the form of dogs or cats but plenty of patients choose another animal that fits better into their lifestyle.

Emotional support animals can be used to provide treatment for a range of conditions, such as:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Stress
  • Fears and phobias

If you think you could benefit from an emotional support animal, our expert team of therapists can offer you professional advice that you know you can rely on. We can even offer you helpful insights into choosing your emotional support animal and a way forward to overcome the difficulties that you’re working through.

Emotional support animals can be registered, meaning that you’re able to take them into many public places where animals are not typically allowed. If, for instance, you struggle with anxiety and are nervous when you’re in public spaces, your emotional support dog can provide you with comfort and reassurance when you’re out shopping, walking, or doing other activities.

The extensive experience of our team also means we can create completely bespoke treatment solutions with you in mind. That means if you could benefit from an emotional support animal, we can also offer other forms of treatment alongside it, such as cognitive behavioural therapy. The result is a treatment plan that offers you daily support and provides you with the strategies you need to address and overcome the challenges you’re facing.

Can I fly with my dog?
Do you use a therapy dog and want to travel? If you’re not sure what the rules and regulations are of travelling with your therapy pup (or other therapy animals) we’ve got all the information that you need.

Therapy dogs can be used for a multitude of reasons, both providing physical and mental support to their owners. They are there to offer affection, companionship, and assistance to those that need it. There are many reasons why you may choose to fly with your therapy dog, they can, for example, help keep you calm and comfortable throughout the journey or provide specialised support if you’re physically disabled.

Firstly, to be able to fly with your therapy dog, you must register them. In the UK, there is a distinction between therapy and assistance dogs. Assistance dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that help improve the quality of life of a disabled person. In contrast, therapy dog is usually a term used to describe a dog that benefits people in a therapeutic way and can encompass a wide range of activities. In the UK, you can register your dog at Pets as Therapy, which will help when you want to fly with your therapy dog.

Airlines will allow you to travel with an assistance dog free of charge but therapy dogs are a bit of a grey area and will depend on the airline that you’re travelling with, destination, and how long your flight is. In the US, for example, registered emotional support animals are allowed to travel free of charge. However, British Airways views emotional support animals as domestic pets and they would therefore not be allowed to travel in the cabin with you and you would need to pay.

If you want to fly with a therapy dog that’s not registered as providing you with assistance for a disability, it’s best to contact the travel provider directly before you make any booking. Even if their website states they’re unable to offer cabin space for emotional support dogs, they may be able to provide you with an alternative solution that matches your needs and, of course, there are some carriers that are happy to accept therapy dogs.


For airlines flying from the UK, the following three airlines allow emotional support animals:

  • American Airlines – when flying with this airline you will be required to provide a letter from a medical professional.
  • Air France – If you’re flying with Air France you will need to inform them of your emotional support animal no later than 48 hours prior to the flight. You will also need to need a medical certificate that is less than a year old. This certificate will need to have been provided by a mental health specialist who can testify that you receive regular check-ups and need your dog with you at all times.
  • Flybe – This airline will only allow dogs but the dog must have received training from an organisation affiliated with the IGDF (International Guide Dog Federation) or ADI (Assistance Dogs International).

Emirates and Swiss Air are the only airlines that will allow emotional support animals on flights from the UK to the USA.


Duffly, Z. (2015). Psychiatric service dogs & emotional support animals: Access to public places & other settings. Retrieved from http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/psychiatric-service-dogs-emotionalsupport-animals-access-public-places-other-settings.ht

Ensminger, J. J., & Thomas, J. L. (2013). Writing letters to help patients with service and support animals. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 13(2), 92-115.

Fine, A. H. (Ed.). (2015). Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Foundations and guidelines for animal-assisted interventions (4th ed.). London, UK: Academic Press.

Gilbey, A., & Tani, K. (2015). Companion animals and loneliness: A systematic review of quantitative studies. Anthrozoös, 28(2), 181-197.

Herzog, H. (2011). The impact of pets on human health and psychological well-being: Fact, fiction, or hypothesis? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(4), 236-239.

Le Roux M, Kemp R. Effect of a companion dog on depression and anxiety levels of elderly residents in a long-term care facility.

Younggren, J. N., Boisvert, J. A., & Boness, C. L. (2016). Examining emotional support animals and role conflicts in professional psychology. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 47(4), 255-260.


For help with this issue speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free chat. We are also able to provide you with an assessment and a letter that will outline your dog’s condition and will confirm that the dog is an emotional support animal. Assessments will last an hour and the letter you will receive will be a 1 page report that recommends adjustments which should be considered as a result of having an emotional support animal.