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How to Get an Emotional Support Dog Letter

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An emotional support animal (ESA) can be any type of small, domesticated animal customarily kept in the home. All kinds of animal companions serve as ESAs, but dogs are perhaps the most popular type of emotional support animal. Dogs and other ESAs can provide therapeutic comfort for those suffering from various mental and emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Federal and state laws have requirements for how an owner proves that their dog is an emotional support animal. Under these ESA laws, the owner of an ESA needs a recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional. In this article, we explore how you can qualify for an emotional support dog. 

Ask Your Therapist for an ESA Letter

Ask a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). If you’re interested in qualifying for an emotional support dog, the first place to turn for help is your existing therapist. That can be a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, social worker, registered nurse, physician’s assistant, or other licensed professional that is familiar with your mental and emotional health. Physicians are also capable of writing ESA letters but may not be familiar with ESAs or your mental health history. If your current therapist or doctor agrees you have a condition that qualifies for an emotional support animal, they may write you an ESA letter. The ESA letter will be signed and dated on the professional’s letterhead and contain a “prescription” (more accurately, a recommendation) for an emotional support animal. 

Valid letter, official ESA status. Once you are in possession of an ESA letter, your dog is an official ESA. You can present this letter to your housing provider to prove your dog is a proper emotional support animal. Discussing your mental and emotional health with someone can be challenging, and you may also feel apprehensive about asking whether an emotional support dog is right for you. It’s always best, however, to be open and transparent about the issues you are dealing with when talking to a health care professional and also to suggest solutions that you think may help you. 

Emotional support dogs are used by countless people suffering from mental and emotional disorders. Emotional support dogs can be an essential part of feeling better and can work in conjunction with other modes of treatment, such as therapy and medication. Having an emotional support dog by your side can help you face your issues head-on and navigate more comfortably through challenging situations that arise in life. Many therapists understand the benefits of emotional support animals and will write ESA letters for qualifying clients.

If your existing healthcare setup is not enough, there are other options for you. 

  • Some therapists are not familiar with ESA rules or do not feel capable of writing ESA letters, and they might refer clients to other professionals.
  • Some people with mental health conditions don’t have a therapist or can’t afford one. Many also find it difficult to do in-person visits or to fit sessions into a busy schedule.

If you’re having trouble finding a qualified therapist to recommend an ESA, there are fortunately valuable online resources that can help guide you in the right direction.

How to get an Emotional Support Dog Letter

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Get Your ESA Letter Online

More people than ever are turning to the convenience of using online therapists. With online technology, it has never been easier to find help from a licensed professional without ever having to leave your home. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an even greater appreciation for these services, which offer a cost-effective way for people to find the help they need. If the idea of seeing a therapist in person makes you anxious or scared, that’s another great reason to explore using an online service. ESA letters issued online are just as valid as those issued in person.

How to find the right online source for an ESA letter

Here are several things to look out for when you start looking for an ESA letter provider:

  • They have a documented and verifiable reputation
  • They follow the proper procedures
  • They pair you with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) in your state
  • The LMHP is able and qualified to write ESA letters
  • The provider and LMHP are aware of the relevant regulations (Fair Housing Act) and follow them

When you submit information about your need for an ESA, you divulge sensitive, confidential information. You want to make sure that you’re in trusted hands when you share this information online. Be sure the platform you are using is secure and respects client confidentiality.

One of the oldest and leading providers of ESA services is ESA Doctors. They have helped thousands of people find licensed professionals who have helped them qualify for an emotional support dog. If you think an emotional support dog could improve your mental health, don’t hesitate to get the help you deserve.

ESA - Three easy steps to get ESA Letter - Infographic

Click Here to Get Your ESA Letter

Training your Emotional Support Animal

A popular misconception about emotional support dogs is that they need specialized training. This misunderstanding likely stems from confusing emotional support dogs with service dogs, which are governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Unlike service dogs, emotional support dogs do not need any specific training. While ESAs provide therapeutic support to their owners through companionship and affection, Service dogs undergo highly specialized training to assist with a disability. One such example is a dog that is trained to protect its handler’s head during a seizure. Nonetheless, all emotional support dogs should undergo basic obedience and behavioral training so they can coexist peacefully with other animals and tenants without being a nuisance or danger to anyone.

Know Your Rights as an ESA Owner

Owners of emotional support dogs have special rights under federal and state laws.

Under the Fair Housing Act

  • Tenants are allowed to live with their emotional support animals, even in buildings that prohibit pets.
  • Landlords are prohibited from imposing fees and deposits for emotional support dogs, even though such fees and deposits may be applicable for regular pets. 
  • Emotional support animals are exempt from restrictions on a dog breed or weight. 

To take advantage of these benefits, you need to present your landlord with a valid ESA letter. If you’re interested in seeing if you qualify for an ESA letter, ESA Doctors can help connect you to an understanding professional who will treat you with respect and kindness.

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About the Author: The writing team at Service Dog Certifications is made up of folks who really know their stuff when it comes to disability laws and assistance animals. Many of our writers and editors have service dogs themselves and share insights from their own experiences. All of us have a passion for disability rights and animals.


  1. Gertrude M Arnold says: December 20, 2023
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