Ever wonder why you are seeing more dogs in the cabin of an airplane? Or why your neighbor has a dog in a “no-pets” apartment? These furry companions are more than just pets; they are emotional support animals (ESA). Commonly referred to as a companion animal.

If you feel that you can benefit from having an ESA, please see below for a step by step guide on how to make your pet dog into an emotional support animal.

Step #1 – Understand what an Emotional Support Animal is

esa puppy

ESA dogs provide comfort and support and do not require extensive training.

This may seem obvious but many people get the different types of assistance animals confused. An emotional support animal is a pet that improves the quality of life and well being of a person. An emotional support animal can be any type of animal and can be trained by the individual. The most common type of ESA is an emotional support dog. An emotional support dog does not have to perform a specific task to aid in a disability, but they do need to be well behaved in public and cannot cause damages to property or harm to those around them. In order for your pet to become an official ESA in the eyes of the law, you will need an ESA letter written by a licensed therapist or medical doctor.

To learn more about the other types of assistance animals you may read ESA vs. Service Dog vs. Therapy Animal.

Step #2 – Decide if you want to make your pet an official ESA

Even though our pet may already be working as your ESA, they do not any rights until you secure an ESA letter. Why would you want to spend the money to make your pet an official ESA? Documented Emotional Support Animals have two special access right under the federal law.

ESA Travel Law – They have the right to fly with you inside the airplane cabin by your feet or in a carrier according to the ACAA.

ESA Housing Law – They have a right to live with you in no pet housing under the FHA.

esa dog housing

Official ESA dogs can legally live in “no pets” housing.

Step #3 – Evaluate your own condition – do you qualify for an ESA?

If you suffering from an emotional or mental issue you can qualify for a legitimate ESA. Anxiety, depression, and PTSD are all conditions that may qualify you for an Emotional Support Dog.

1 in 4 Americans suffer from mental illness and are often untreated. Many people may adopt a pet to help them cope. If this sounds familiar to you, there is no shame in seeking support and making your pet a legal ESA.

Disabilities where an ESA Dog may be useful:

  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Fears and Phobias
  • Mood Disorders

Step #4 – Secure an ESA letter

how to get an ESA doctors letter

3 easy steps to getting an official ESA doctors letter. Click to start the process.

If you feel that you qualify for an ESA and need to fly or live with your emotional support dog, you will need an ESA letter. A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist, licensed marriage, and family therapist or even a licensed clinical social worker may write an ESA recommendation letter for you. If your current therapist is unaware of ESA laws or does not believe in animal therapy, you may seek support from an ESA Doctor online. If you choose not to work with ESA Doctors, you should make sure the online referral company should pairs you directly with a therapist and does not automatically send you a letter. It is also important to confirm that the therapist’s licensing is in accordance with your state’s telehealth service laws.

Step #5 – Order a vest for my Emotional Support Animal

You are not required by law to identify your ESA through a vest. You may choose to do so as it is more convenient than sharing your ESA letter with every airport employee or housing employee.

What to do next?

  • To learn more about flying with your ESA, read this article. ESAs are allowed to fly with you in cabin free of charge.
  • To learn more about how to live with your ESA, read this article. ESAs are allowed to live with you in ‘no-pet’ buildings and apartments. You are also exempt from monthly pet fees and a separate pet deposit.

To qualify for an emotional support animal letter start here:


100% Money back guarantee.