In a world filled with stress (especially right now), many people have turned to emotional support pets. These allow people with a myriad of physical and mental health issues to leave a more comfortable life. There’s a lot of questions and debates regarding the topic, so here’s what I could come up with doing some research.

Why do I need an emotional support animal?

There could be a number of mental health issues that you are dealing with where a doctor has recommended the use of a pet to help. Perhaps it is anxiety, panic attacks, or depression. These issues can be debilitating and the use of an emotional support animal can help a great deal. Especially if these animals are trained to deal with the issues.

Another benefit here is that it may allow you to need less prescription drugs. If you’ve found having a pet by your side helps cut back on an addictive medicine like Xanax, that’s likely a good thing.

Is this the same as a service dog?

No. Service dogs are trained specifically to handle the disabilities of its owner. They often go through years of training and must be purchased through specific organizations.

What is an emotional support animal than?

These are any animals that provide comfort and affection to their owner. They do not undergo any special training and do not perform special tasks. Instead, they are just there to provide emotional support.

Almost any animal can become one. The main qualification is they help their owners get through tough situations.

Does it matter what animal?

Not really. Almost any type of animal can be licensed. That goes for cats, dogs, birds, and even a bearded dragon. They can also be of any age. But it would be wise to choose a pet that can be taken out in public and in spaces where they won’t cause issues. An emotional support tarantula might seem like a good idea to you to reduce anxiety, but I guarantee it’ll raise the anxiety of everyone near you.

What conditions qualify?

This can vary by state, but for the most part, to qualify, you need to suffer from one of these conditions.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • PTSD
  • Panic disorder
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Stress
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

There are some others not listed or that fall under those general terms. It’s worth asking your doctor if you’d apply.

Do I need doctor approval?

In many cases, yes. Airlines will require a letter from a licensed health professional stating it is necessary for your condition. The same goes for apartments which prohibit animals.

These are laws in the United States. Airlines must adhere to the Air Carriers Access Act. Landlords are subjected to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Federal Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988. It is important to know your rights when in need of an emotional support animal.

How do I get approval?

There are a few different ways to get approval for an emotional support animal. One is by seeing your current doctor or mental health professional. Explain your issues and bring up the idea of it to them. In many cases, they’ll be happy to oblige and walk you through the process.

If you’ve got poor or no health insurance, it may be better to go the online route. There are companies where you work alongside licensed health professionals who can provide you with the legal means at a much lower price. A site like has licensed physicians and is HIPAA compliant (this is important for your security).

Does it work?

By the sheer number of people who are using emotional support pets in this country, I’d have to say it’s a resounding yes. If you struggle with mental health issues and feel your pet provides comfort in those situations, you should absolutely look into it.

On a personal note, a dear friend of mine lived through a mass shooting when they were in college. It has caused her endless nightmares and PTSD. She still sees a therapist over a decade after the tragic event took place.

She has a poodle that is licensed as an emotional support dog. It is someone she feels comfortable with and helps when her anxiety reaches unmanageable proportions. So I think if you are dealing with issues, especially serious ones like PTSD, you should absolutely look into this.