Moosh - Yorkshire terrier with jacket

Emotional support animals (ESA) serve a number of purposes, but their main aim is to assist people to manage the symptoms of emotional or psychological conditions. ESAs have been proven to help people who suffer from debilitating conditions to live happier, more productive lives, and they have a real place in treating conditions that are often misunderstood. However, they also have a more fun side that can be very beneficial for their owners.

While ESAs are slightly different to pets in that their status is legally certified, there are lots of fun activities you can do with them that are more traditionally associated with pets. One of these things is dressing them up. A lot of people look down on dressing up pets, but it’s a fun and harmless activity that can actually assist in treating your condition.

Emotional support animals treat a wide variety of conditions, including but not limited to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of these disorders have associated social stress and anxiety and can make it difficult for sufferers to form social bonds and connections. It can also make it difficult for sufferers to leave the house, which is why emotional support dogs in particular can be very helpful, as they need regular walking. Surprisingly, dressing up your emotional support animal can prove to be a fun activity that can also make your life a bit more social.

Moosh - dog in knitted jacket

Buying or making a warm jacket for your ESA dog can be fun and also useful.

While you might view dressing up a dog as something quite frivolous (and it is), it can also give you a slightly different hobby and introduce you to totally new people. Your ESA will also enjoy being pampered and having attention lavished on them. There are a lot of social groups and clubs set up for people with animals, and some of these are focused on dress-up sessions and fun social outings where animals are dressed to impress. These groups can be found online; most large cities and towns will have some kind of social group dedicated to the animal that you have, be it an ESA or a regular pet. These groups can be really helpful in widening your social circle, so if this is something you have issues with due to your condition, you’ll be able to meet people you have a lot in common with. This will be especially true if you join a social group specifically for people with emotional support animals. You will be able to meet people who understand what it’s like to live with a condition like yours, and you’ll have fun while doing it.

Dressing up your ESA doesn’t have to mean buying crazy costumes, although you can definitely do this if you want to. If you have a small animal that is outdoors a lot, it is often advisable to get them a cozy jacket that can help keep them warm, especially in winter. The good news is that there are lots of specialty stores, both online and in the real world, that cater to outfits for all kinds of animals, from dogs to cats to ferrets. These outfits also come in a variety of price points, so there are options for every budget.

Moosh - poodle in outfit

Don’t forget to have a bit of fun with your emotional support animal!

If you have an emotional support animal, dressed up or not, it’s important to make sure that you have an ESA letter to ensure that you and your emotional support animal have all of the legal protections available to you. While emotional support animals do not have the same level of protection as service animals such as guide dogs or seizure dogs, they do have protections that will be useful to you. To get your animal certified, you need to have a stamped, signed, and dated letter from a medical professional that states that your pet is an emotional support animal treating a condition. To get an ESA letter, you don’t even have to visit a doctor in person. There are lots of services available online that allow you to log on and speak to a doctor who specializes in recommending treatment by emotional support animals. These professionals will allow you to speak openly about your condition and how your pet helps you to live with it via the camera on your laptop or phone. If they deem you suitable for treatment, they will write you an ESA letter, which will have to be renewed every year. Make sure you have this letter if you’re flying or availing of protection under rental legislation, as it serves as your certification.

Emotional support animals do noble work, but they are still living beings that enjoy having fun. So why not try something different and buy them a cute new outfit? If you’re feeling brave, you could even try matching up with them. What have you got to lose?