Intro: With the rise of mental disorders and anxiety, more people are trying to find ways to cope with their symptoms. One way is through emotional support animals (ESA). ESA’s can be dogs, cats, rodents, or any other animal that provides comfort to an individual. But what if you have a pet? Do they qualify as Emotional Support Animal (ESA)? The answer may surprise you! Read on for more information about what qualifies as an ESA.

Emotional Support Animals: How They Help

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

 An emotional support animal (ESA) is a companion animal that a medical professional has determined benefits an individual with a disability, including depression, anxiety or PTSD. This determination must be made by a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. You can also register emotional support animals for your 

Do Your Pets Qualify as Emotional Support Animals? 

This Is How You Can Get an Emotional Support Animal Right Now | HelloGiggles

Although the idea of a pet is charming, it might not be feasible for everyone. For those considering bringing home a new pet but aren’t sure if it’s possible, understanding the difference between emotional support animals and pets can provide some guidance.

  • Mental Support Animals – Are They Legally recognized? Mental Support Animals (also known as Psychiatric Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals) are often thought of as any other pet. Still, they bring a lot more to the table than just unconditional love. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides psychiatric service animals and emotional support animals certain protections and allows handlers to bring their ESA into public areas where pets usually are not allowed. It includes restaurants and hotels. ESA’s have been adapted to accompany owners in Airplanes and other forms of public transit.
  • Mental Support Animal Rights – Vindication: However, not all animals make good emotional support animals. Not just any animal can become a service animal, which carries a lot of weight. Typically an individual will seek a doctor or mental health professional for a recommendation, then used to get an emotional support animal letter.

What’s the difference between ESA and a service animal? 

What's the Difference between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service  Animal? - PetsBlogs

An emotional support animal is NOT the same as a service dog. While they are both animals that provide comfort to their owners, emotional support dogs are not trained for specific tasks. Their primary job is to boost their owner’s morale!! When comparing emotional support animal vs service animal, consider the following:

  • An emotional support animal differs from a service dog — which is specially trained to perform specific tasks for its handler that they cannot do for himself — in that there are no task-specific training requirements. Although some dogs can naturally sense and respond to an individual’s needs, no advanced training or significant effort is required from the individual with a disability.
  • An emotional support animal also differs from a therapy dog. While both provide comfort and non-judgmental companionship to individuals under their care, neither require specific training to perform that function. Therapy dogs are brought to facilities such as hospitals and hospices for therapy sessions to help comfort someone who is depressed or upset.
  • On the other hand, emotional support animals provide their handlers with companionship and unconditional love, without any additional benefit that a well-trained dog could provide. Psychiatric service animals perform tasks that their handlers cannot do for themselves. An example of this would be a seeing-eye dog guiding a blind handler. 
  • It is not necessarily required for an individual to have medical documentation to be approved for an emotional support animal. However, for service animals, having rigorous training with the specific tasks that the animal will perform to prove that the animal can adequately provide care helps ensure legitimacy.

What about your pet?

Dog Owners Are Much Happier Than Cat Owners, New Study Finds

 If they’ve helped you cope with depression, anxiety, or another condition you have, you may qualify for reasonable accommodation from your landlord. It means your pet may technically count as a “service animal” and be allowed in public places or live with you, no matter what species it is.

Are you a dog lover? Examples of service dogs that can be classified as emotional support animals:

  • Guide dogs for the blind
  • Alerting services for hearing impaired
  • Psychiatric service animal for medication reminders and reducing anxiety
  • Autism service dogs that help autistic children and adults with self-calming techniques and physical support

You don’t have to train your pet at all – you need to answer the questionnaire and prove your mental health diagnosis. The ESA Letter Professionals can provide you with an ESA letter to qualify you for your animal. If you own a dog, he may be considered an ESA if he possesses

 One or more of the following qualities: 

  • If they give you assistance to cope with your stress or help calm down your panic attacks
  • If they relieve one of your symptoms of an existing medical condition (i.e., stomach ache, headache, etc.) 
  • alerts their owner when they need to go to the bathroom
  • helps their owner get up from a wheelchair or bed
  • alerts their owner when panic or anxiety is coming on strong and helps to calm them down
  • Acts as a calming force during a flashback, which could be triggered by an event that worsens your mental health condition. For example, if you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a dog can remind you that you are safe.
  • opens doors pick up items from the floor, and help with their owner’s balance when standing or walking
  • acts as a “social lubricant,” helping people to feel more comfortable around them -can help their owner get out of the house and participate in social functions, such as going to the store or attending events
  • It helps their owner to regulate sleep patterns and reduce reliance on medications to fall asleep.
  • It can help an individual with a sensory processing disorder (math disability) be less distracted by sounds around them and focus better on tasks at hand. It can be conducive for children and adults with autism.
  • Can provide the motivation needed to complete a task, such as taking medication or completing physical therapy.
  • Can prevent their owner from feelings of depression and anxiety by helping them socialize and feel more confident in public places. An emotional support animal can be a calming presence for those who have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
  • It can help lower blood pressure and ease feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Help keep those who experience panic attacks calm, especially when exposed to specific triggers that cause anxiety or fearfulness or in social settings such as parties.


Emotional Support Animals do not have the extensive training that Service Dogs have, but they can still help someone suffering from emotional distress. An Emotional Support Animal provides affection, support and comfort just by being with its owner.