Emotional Support vs. Therapy Dog: What’s the Difference?

Emotional Support Animal Emotional Support vs. Therapy Dog: What’s the Difference?

Emotional Support vs. Therapy Dog: What’s the Difference?

Emotional support animals and therapy dogs can provide tremendous benefits to people in pain. If you've compared emotional support vs. therapy dogs, things may seem muddy since they both provide comfort to people in similar ways.

Let's explore the differences between emotional support animals and therapy dogs, and we'll discuss how DoNotPay can help generate a letter so you can receive the care you deserve from your pet.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a pet that provides comfort and care to a person suffering from mental health conditions.

Some of these conditions include:

  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Certain phobias

With the companionship that an ESA provides, many people find relief from their symptoms so they can live a fuller, happier life.

How Emotional Support Animals Help People:

Improves Your ScheduleSchedules and routines may be very important, yet, schedules may seem tedious. A pet requires care and a certain routine. You must feed them; you have to walk them, bathe them, play with them, etc. Setting your schedule to be based on their needs can also impact your other day-to-day tasks.
Improve Memory and FocusPets are very good at keeping person-centered. If you forget to feed them, they will remind you. If you feel lost in thought, they can give you a nudge to remind you that they are there.
Improve SleepIf you are someone who suffers from hyperactivity, you may feel unable to rest well at night. After running, walking, playing, and focusing on your pet throughout the day, you may be able to rest more at night.
Relieves StressPets provide unconditional love to their owners. They are unable to yell or do things that may stress you. This can give you a sense of confidence and reduce your risk of depression or anxiety.

In order to take your emotional support animal to certain public places and at certain rental properties, you may need to have an ESA letterYou can also use an ESA letter to discuss flight accommodations with airlines like United and Southwest.

What Is a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog is used to provide comfort to people in facilities like nursing homes, hospice care, and schools.

They've been proven to provide several benefits to people in their care, including

  • Lower Heart Rate
  • Less Anxiety
  • Increased Endorphins
  • Increased Oxytocin

Therapy dogs don't need to have specific training or letters of certification, but they can receive certification through the American Kennel Club.

What Is an ESA Letter?

If you'd like to make your pet an emotional support animal, you'll want to obtain an ESA letter. This letter will allow you to bring your pet to certain public places, rental properties, and on certain flights like American Airlines.

An ESA letter must be written and signed by a licensed mental health professional. Although they aren't required, an ESA letter will make it easier to prove that your pet is, in fact, a medical necessity for you.

What’s Required in an ESA Letter?

Your mental health professional will need to include the following information in the ESA letter in order for it to be official:

  • Their license number
  • Their license expiration date
  • The physician's contact information
  • The date the letter was written

DoNotPay can help you write a letter to your mental health professional, requesting them to write you an ESA letter.

Who Can Write an ESA Letter?

Only a medical professional can write an ESA letter for you.

This includes:

  • Primary Care Physicians
  • Psychologists
  • Licensed Social Workers (LCSW)
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT)
  • Psychiatrists
  • Registered Nurses
  • Physicians Assistants
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC)

How to Ask Your Doctor for an ESA Letter

When it comes to emotional support vs. therapy dogs, neither requires certification. However, an ESA letter does ensure that your pet will be allowed into certain public places, on certain airlines, and in all home rentals, even if the landlord specifies that pets aren't allowed.

If you want to ask your doctor for an ESA letter, you can follow these steps:

  1. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or mental health physician.
  2. Make a list of all your current symptoms.
  3. When your appointment arrives, bring your list and discuss each symptom with your doctor.
  4. Ask about ESAs and whether one would benefit your condition.
  5. Ask your doctor to write you an ESA letter.

Many patients find it frustrating and scary to advocate for themselves, and asking for an emotional support animal can seem daunting. When you're suffering from a mental health condition, it can be extremely difficult to articulate your struggles and to fight for your needs.

DoNotPay can help by writing a letter to your doctor, asking for an ESA letter on your behalf.

Let DoNotPay Help You Obtain an ESA Letter

DoNotPay has a Service and Emotional Support Animals product that can help you request an ESA letter from your doctor. We can help by contacting airlines about their ESA accommodations, asking your landlord to accommodate your ESA, and writing a letter to your doctor to request an ESA letter from them.

Here's all you need to do:

  1. Search "service animal" on DoNotPay.


  2. Select the type of issue you need help with, including contacting your landlord about your ESA/service animal, asking your airline about ESA options, or requesting ESA/service accommodations at other venues.


  3. Answer a series of questions about your current situation and the details of your ESA/service animal, so we can generate the best results for you.


Once you've submitted your answers, DoNotPay will create and send a letter on your behalf to your landlord or airline, and we'll let you know when they've responded. Additionally, DoNotPay can write a letter to your doctor asking for an ESA letter.

DoNotPay Loves Taking Care of Your Pets

We offer a variety of products designed to keep your pets happy and healthy.

DoNotPay can help you:

What Else Can DoNotPay Do?

DoNotPay can help with a variety of life's issues. Here are a few of the things we can do:

Additionally, DoNotPay can help you sue someone in small claims court. This can come in handy if your landlord chooses not to accommodate your ESA after you've submitted an ESA letter.

Trust DoNotPay to help you with your ESA. We believe your mental health is important, and we're here to help you feel your best!

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