If you are dealing with a mental health condition, you could be greatly benefitted by the presence of an emotional support animal. It has been proven that emotional support animals can decrease the symptoms and effects of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
ESAs do this by:
- Calming and relaxing their companion
- Lessening feelings of loneliness
- Reducing stress by reducing the amount of stress chemicals being released within the brain
- Inducing feelings of happiness by causing the release of happy chemicals
- Encouraging more social engagement and interaction with others
They can also help to reduce chronic pain and normalize blood pressure and heart rate.
But what if you already have a pet? Do you need to go out and get a new one to certify it as an emotional support animal? Not necessarily! Read on to find out how to reclassify your pet as an emotional support animal.
How do you qualify for an emotional support animal?
There are certain conditions that qualify a person to have an emotional support animal. Depression and anxiety are both high on the list because of the positive effects an ESA can have for people with those conditions.
Other qualifying conditions include:
- Any learning disorders
- ADD or ADHD
- Disorders that may affect motor skills
- Other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder
- Substance abuse and addiction disorders
- Cognitive disorders
To prove that you qualify for an emotional support animal, these conditions must be certified by a medical professional. In the case of a mental health issue, a psychologist or mental health care professional will need to diagnose and certify you with the appropriate condition.
How does legitimate emotional support animal registration work?
To have an animal registered as an emotional support animal, you will have to go through a series of steps. The first is to see your medical professional and get your diagnosis. This will allow your medical professional to certify you as having a specific disability that qualifies for the use of an ESA.
It is vital that you get the correct medical professional to certify. If you are opting for an emotional support animal to help cope with a mental illness, having a cardiologist fill out the form will not be effective. The doctor must specialize in mental health to certify you.
Once you receive your diagnosis and certification, you will need your medical professional to write an ESA letter. This will need to be written on your doctor’s own letterhead and include specific information such as their license type, license number, and the state in which they are licensed to practice.
It should also be dated and include written correspondence stating that you are a current patient, you suffer from a condition, you are limited in your day-to-day activities because of this condition, and that having an ESA is a vital component of your treatment plan.
What are the benefits of registering your existing pet as an official emotional support animal?
If you have an existing pet that’s qualified to become an emotional support animal, it can help to speed up the process. Those who do not already have a pet that qualifies will have to adopt one. Having an animal that already qualifies as an emotional support animal also helps because it’s likely that you are already receiving some of the benefits that having a pet around can bring.
If you already have a dog, you can get an ESA letter from your medical care provider for your specific pet to instantly transform them into an emotional support animal, because they do not require any special training or classes to become one. The process will be the same when it comes to getting your ESA letter and certification of your pet as an ESA.
How do I make my cat an emotional support animal?
Cats can be great emotional support animals for a variety of reasons. They offer the same bonds, playfulness, and affection that dogs can provide, but they are easier to care for, clean up after, and maintain in small apartments or other areas where there is not a lot of room for them to roam around.
To qualify a cat as an emotional support animal, the process is generally the same. You must get a diagnosis, get certified, receive your ESA letter, and notify the proper people (landlord or airline) of your ESA’s designation where necessary. You do not need to formally register your cat as an emotional support animal; generally the ESA letter is enough documentation.
Emotional support animals can be a great help to those suffering from a wide variety of different emotional or mental health conditions. They offer many benefits that can greatly decrease symptoms of the condition, or help you cope with and manage the symptoms more easily.
If you already have a pet that you know and love, getting them registered to be an ESA is the same process you would have to go through if you were to adopt a new pet. Getting your pet set up as an ESA might seem like an arduous task, but it’s actually very simple, and well worth it in the long run.