Emotional Support Animals: What Are They?

The latest trends in animal therapy today are the Emotional Support Animals. While it’s a proven fact that people will serious illnesses are comforted by animals, there is also confusion about the difference between Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Animals. Are Emotional Support Animals in the same category as Therapy Animals?

What Is an ESA or Emotional Support Animal?

An animal is considered an ESA or emotional support animal if it is one that can provide companionship and support therapy as a way of alleviating their owner’s emotional and mental disabilities.

The ultimate purpose of an assistance animal is to provide relief, comfort, and companionship to their owners to enable them to accomplish “major life activities.” “Major life activity” and “activities of daily living” are one and the same which is to include common activities such as standing, eating, taking a bath, listening, communicating, looking, reading, working, and thinking. These activities may seem easy to do but have proven to be debilitating tasks for the emotionally and mentally ill.

Mental and emotional conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, PTSD, and depression are examples that are drastically reduced with the help of emotional support animals.

The use of emotional support animals is not a new psychological approach. Sigmund Freud, one of the greatest ever psychoanalysts, often includes Jofi, his pet Chow during patient therapy sessions. Other mental health professionals followed suit when they came to realize what Freud has discovered: people are helped by pets.

The Mental Health Conditions That Can Benefit from an Emotional Support Animal

Several studies support the theory of the mental benefits gained from an assistance animal. As the use of ESAs gained more momentum, the list of mental disabilities that can benefit from using it has also expanded. The list now includes people suffering from:

  • Disability
  • Depression
  • Social shyness
  • PTSD
  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Fear of flying or Aerophobia
  • Stressful situations
  • The fear of going outside the house or Agoraphobia


Doctors have seen the following vast improvements in people suffering from these mental disabilities aided by their service animal. The marked improvements gained from an emotional support animal include:

  • A huge reduction in the symptoms of the diagnosed illness
  • Increased social interaction
  • A more positive sense of purpose
  • Self-esteem boost
  • More motivation
  • More secure and comfortable

It has been found that the beneficial use of emotional support animals is not confined to mental disabilities alone like post-traumatic stress disorder. A study discovered that the daily routine involving an animal in a nursing home encouraged patients to become more active. A more active lifestyle for the seniors resulted in decreased medication needs.

Patients diagnosed with trauma-related problems including PTSD dramatically reduced their symptoms as much as 82% after only a week of interaction with an emotional support animal.


What Types of Pet Can Become Emotional Support Animals?

  1. Dogs

Dogs top the list as a service animal. They have been seen to effectively reduce symptoms of depression, stress, anxiety, and other forms of emotional and mental disabilities. While there is no legal requirement for a specific dog breed as an emotional support dog or service dog, there are better and more suitable breed recommendations.


  1. Cats

Cats can be a good emotional support animal. Yet, like dogs, there are some cat breeds that are better suited to provide the optimum comfort and care to their ailing owners. While better cat breeds are recommended, the final decision is up to the person to know the best choice for an emotional support cat suitable for their needs.


  1. Birds

While there are no legal restrictions in using birds as an emotional animal, it is not highly recommended. It’s not because birds cannot be good emotional support animals. The inconclusive research findings of using birds as an emotional support animal are the main reason for the reluctance for recommending it.


  1. Other Animal Types

Other animal types are being advocated as emotional support animals. The expanded list includes rabbits, snakes, miniature pigs, and a lot more. These animals veer from the typical and while there are no strict restrictions specific to animal breeds and species, public safety in the use of these exotic animal choices is of paramount importance.


ESAs Are Good for All of Us

A pet dog is usually the first one to greet you as you step inside your home. He will be the first to give you empathy as soon as he senses your stress and anxiety. Our actions, body language, and even the tone of voice are immediately picked up by our pet animals.

This are reasons for the importance of emotional support animals. They are used for those that genuinely need their support and companionship and for people that just want a loving buddy that will always be there for them.

While ESAs are not categorized as pets, they are not considered service animals as well. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks and exclusively use the service dog. ESAs, on the other hand, are not trained to perform specific tasks. They are used to provide unconditional love, care, and support for their owners with varied mental and emotional disabilities.

Get the process started as soon as possible if you think that you or a member of the family may benefit from an ESA. You may either consult with a therapist or doctor or check your eligibility through a reputable ESA referral service. Getting an ESA letter for your choice of an ESA animal or dog can get it certified in no time.

Make a difference in your life by having an Emotional Support Dog or a certified Emotional Support Animal in the home. Get in touch with out #1 recommended provider to know if your condition qualifies you for an ESA letter. If you do, get your ESA letter from us in less than 60 seconds!

Consulting a mental health professional is the first and crucial step. They will take care of the necessary paperwork to present to an airline for you to bring your ESA with you. This letter can also be presented to a landlord to allow your ESA to live with you without having to pay monthly pet dues.

Read Our Reviews On The Most Popular ESA Letter Providers Below

Emotional Support Animal Co.
The Dogtor
ESA Registration of America
National Service Animal Registry
USA Service Dog Registration