What Qualifies You For an Emotional Support Animal?

3 min readDec 2, 2021


Of all the treatments out there for emotional and mental health, one that is often not mentioned is the possibility of getting an emotional support animal such dog. But having a furry friend to help with your mental and emotional health may be a very real choice. So what are the requirements for you to get an emotional support animal, exactly?

emotional support animal

Firstly, according to the American Kennel Club, to be a legitimate emotional support animal, “the pet require to be prescribed by a licensed mental health specialist to an individual with a disabling mental illness. A therapist, or psychologist, for example, must decide that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the sufferer.”

And it is necessary to note, as the AKC points out, that even though ESAs offer support via companionship and can help reduce depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, they are not the same as service dogs, and won’t have the same rights as an animal who is performing tasks to aide in their owners disabilities.

As for whether or not it might be a potential option for you, you should get some committed, long-term direction from a mental healthcare expert. Below, read at the requirements and qualifications for getting an emotional support animal. (ESA)

If you have an emotional disability, you can legally qualify for an ESA, short for an emotional support animal. You must be certified as emotionally disabled by a psychiatrist, or psychologist, or other duly licensed and/or certified mental health specialist. This certification must be a formal and appropriately formatted letter, known as an ESA Letter.

Any other type of doctor — a cardiologist, for instance — does not qualify as a mental health professional because unlike a psychiatrist, other medical health doctor are not specialists in mental health. But, some property managers of apartments accept verification forms filled out by a family physician if they are treating sufferer for a mental illness. Make sure that you have the correct authority to write the letter for you.

To qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, the ESA letter must be written on the mental health specialist letterhead, include the license type, date of the license, license number, and the country which issued the license. Even more, it must have the date when it was written. A sample of the request letter can be viewed at the official website of Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, but there are other web that have the same type of samples which you may prefer.

To qualify for an ESA and take an emotional support animal letter, you have to to be examined by a mental health specialist. Then they require to certify you have a recognized emotional disability that can benefit from having an ESA.

Here’s a list of mental and emotional health problems that may qualify you for an ESA letter:

  • Depression
  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disorders
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Autism
  • Personality Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Schizophrenia
  • ADHD

A mental health specialist can talk the complete list of conditions that qualify. If you have a situation that an emotional support animal might help you deal with, it’s worth discuss with a licensed mental health specialist about potentially getting an ESA letter.