Can I Bring My Emotional Support Dog To Work? Guides 2023

Reviewed by Dr. Theresa Bautista, OTD, OTR

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can i bring my emotional support dog to work
Emotional support dogs can make the workplace less stressful. Photo: Shutterstock

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the benefits emotional support animals (ESAs) can provide for individuals with mental health conditions.

ESAs can offer comfort, companionship, and assistance in managing symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental disabilities. Many people rely on ESAs for emotional support in various aspects of their lives, including work.

This has led to the question: Can I bring my emotional support dog to work?

In this article, we will explore emotional support animal laws in the workplace, how to obtain an ESA letter and the differences behind different types of assistance animals.

Can I Bring My Emotional Support Dog To Work?

Employers often make efforts to accommodate emotional support dogs, although they may request documentation in cases where the disability is not apparent or the necessity of the animal’s presence is unclear.

This documentation, typically in the form of an ESA letter, serves as evidence of the need for an emotional support animal. It’s important to note that the law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities, and permitting emotional support animals in the workplace can be viewed as a reasonable accommodation.

Can I Bring My Emotional Support Dog To Work?

Before bringing your emotional support animal to work, it is important to have a conversation with your employer to understand the office policies and guidelines regarding animals in the workplace. While some employers may accommodate and understand your needs, others may require specific documentation or proof of your ESA status. 

When approaching this topic with your company, be well-prepared to make your case by having a clear understanding of your rights and the positive impact that having an emotional support animal can have on both your mental health and your work.[1] 

It is also important to be aware of the local and state laws that govern emotional support animal laws workplace. Consider discussing the following topics with your employer:

Explain The Concept Of Emotional Support Animals In The Workplace

Provide a brief overview of ESAs and how they differ from service animals. While ESAs are not required to have specialized training like service animals, they can provide emotional support that will help alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions.

Discuss The Benefits Of Having Your ESA At Work

Explain how your ESA will contribute to your overall well-being and productivity at work. ESAs can also help you cope with stress and anxiety at work.

Address Any Concerns Or Potential issues

Anticipate any issues your employer may have regarding having your ESA at work. This includes allergies, disruptions, or potential conflicts with other employees. Show proof that your ESA is well-behaved and will not pose any safety risks or undue hardship in the workplace. environment. 

Emotional Support Animal Reasonable Accommodation Workplace

Explain to your employer that having your ESA is considered a reasonable accommodation under the law.

Provide Relevant Documentation

Be prepared to provide an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. This letter should outline your need for an ESA and its positive impact on your mental health.

Tips For Bringing Your Dog To Work

can i bring my emotional support dog to work
Ensure your ESA behaves well before bringing them to work. Photo: Shutterstock

If your employer approves your request to bring your emotional support dog to work, it is essential to take the necessary steps for a smooth transition for you and your colleagues. You may want to keep the following tips in mind to create a positive and supportive work environment:

  • Make sure your emotional support dog maintains appropriate behavior. If your animal misbehaves, your employer has the right to deny your ESA access to the work premises.
  • Think about the health and safety of your coworkers. Not everyone likes animals, and some may have allergies. Before introducing your ESA to the workplace, ensure that your co-workers who work closely with you are on board with the idea. This proactive approach can help prevent any potential issues.
  • Prepare your workspace with a designated area for your emotional support dog. Provide a blanket, water, food, or other items the dog may need.
  • Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene includes regularly cleaning up after your emotional support dog.
  • Follow workplace policies regarding behavior expectations or off-limit areas of the office.

What about students? Can you bring an emotional support animal to school? Under the Fair Housing Act, colleges and universities cannot deny your ESA to accompany you in dorm rooms, but they can still deny requests in classrooms if the animal is thought to be disruptive, dangerous, or a threat to others.

Bringing your emotional support animal to work can have numerous benefits for you and your colleagues. Here are some of the advantages of having your emotional support pet with you in the workplace:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety.
  • Increased productivity and focus.
  • Improved social interactions.
  • Enhanced well-being and morale.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Vs. Service Animal

Understanding the distinction between an emotional support animal and a service animal is essential. While both provide valuable assistance and support, they serve different purposes and have different legal protections.

Emotional Support Animal

An ESA does not need to have specialized training to perform specific tasks or services. Their primary role is to provide emotional support, comfort, and companionship to individuals with mental health conditions. ESAs are commonly prescribed for anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. 

Some of the best emotional support animals include dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, and miniature horses. Although technically any domesticated animal can be approved as an ESA by your mental health provider. 

ESAs are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA),[2] which allows individuals with disabilities to have reasonable accommodations, including housing with their ESAs.

Service Animal

A service animal[3] undergoes extensive training to perform specific tasks or services that assist individuals with disabilities. These tasks may include guiding individuals who are visually impaired, alerting individuals with hearing impairments to sounds or providing mobility assistance. 

Service animals are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),[4] which grants them access to public places, such as workplaces, where pets may typically be restricted.

Psychiatric Service Dog

A psychiatric service dog is a service animal that specifically assists individuals with psychiatric disabilities. These dogs undergo specialized training to perform tasks that reduce the symptoms of mental health conditions, such as anxiety or PTSD. 

Psychiatric service dogs are trained to provide specific interventions, such as interrupting panic attacks, providing grounding techniques, or creating a physical barrier to maintain personal space in crowded environments. They are recognized as valuable support for individuals with psychiatric disabilities and are granted the same legal protections as other service animals under the ADA.

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs are specially trained service dogs that help visually impaired people. These service animals are often referred to as seeing-eye dogs because they help people who are blind or visually impaired lead more independent lives by safely guiding them throughout the day. 

Basically, their job is to see for their owners. They help lead a blind person safely around obstacles and usually assist with crossing the street, finding doors, and walking up the steps.

Seizure Alert Dogs

These support animals are service dogs trained to help people with seizure disorders. They assist individuals before, during, and after a seizure. Activities they perform include: 

  • Finding help for their person by calling 911 with a K-9 alert phone.
  • Helping their owner regain consciousness.
  • Physically moving their owner out of harm’s way if a seizure occurs in an unsafe environment.

Obtaining An ESA Letter For Your Dog

If you believe having an ESA at work would benefit your mental well-being, obtaining an ESA letter[5] from a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) is a perfect next step. An emotional support animal letter for the workplace serves as legal documentation of your need for an ESA and can help support your request for your employer to provide reasonable accommodation.

Would you like to find out how to get an ESA letter? We will discuss the options below. 

Online ESA Companies

With the recent surge in demand for ESA letters, certain companies have made online platforms that connect LMHP to people with mental health disabilities who would like an ESA. There are a variety of websites to choose from, but Certapet is one of the best legitimate ESA letter sites.

To get your ESA, you can sign up online, make a virtual appointment with an LMHP, and have a copy of a certified letter within 24 hours. This streamlined process made getting an ESA much more straightforward for people with disabilities who may face barriers to traveling to an in-person doctor’s appointment. 

Read more about Certapet reviews here.

Make An Appointment With A Licensed Mental Health Professional

If you are already under the care of an LMHP for a mental or emotional disability, you can make an appointment to discuss the possible benefits of adding an emotional support animal to your treatment plan. 

Emotional support pets can help people with various conditions through companionship, reduce anxiety, and battle isolation. An LMHP can provide you with documentation to prescribe an assistance animal.

Contact Your Primary Care Physician

LMHP is an umbrella term and includes a variety of healthcare providers. This also consists of any licensed physician. If your primary care physician is aware of your mental health diagnosis, they can write a legitimate ESA letter to help support your accommodation request.


If you have an ESA and hope to have them accompany you in the workplace, there is a good chance that your employer will accommodate the request.

Under current laws, people with disabilities are protected from being discriminated against in the workplace. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to allow employees to have their assistance animals with them if it is indeed reasonable.

Before you make a request to your employer, make sure that you have an ESA letter so that you are legally protected if your employer requests documentation. If your employer agrees to have your ESA in the workplace you can benefit from reduced anxiety and stress, improved relationships with colleagues, and an overall more positive and healthy working environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bring my emotional support dog to work?

If you have an ESA letter and a mental health disability, you can request reasonable accommodation with your employer. Many employers will accommodate this request as long as it does not cause undue hardship or a direct threat in the workplace.

What legal documentation do I need to have an emotional support dog at work?

It is essential to obtain a legitimate ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional before you make an accommodation request to have your pet at work. An ESA letter is a legal document stating that your emotional support dog is part of your treatment plan and needs to accompany you at work.

+ 5 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. Hoy-Gerlach, J., Vincent, A. and Becca Lory Hector (2019). Emotional Support Animals in the United States: Emergent Guidelines for Mental Health Clinicians. Journal of psychosocial rehabilitation and mental health, [online] 6(2), pp.199–208. doi:
  2. (2018). / U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). [online] Available at:
  3. (2023). Service Animals. [online] Available at:
  4. (2023). ADA Requirements: Service Animals. [online] Available at:‌
  5. (2023). APA PsycNet. [online] Available at:


Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, medical writer, and researcher with a special focus on integrative therapies, mental health, and wellness.


Theresa is a Doctor of Occupational Therapy and a Licensed Occupational Therapist based in Texas. She specializes in content writing, research, medical review, and consulting for health websites and health tech companies. As a clinician, her expertise is in outpatient pediatric and school-based therapy. She also has experience in hand therapy, hospital, rehab, home health, and telehealth settings. Theresa employs a holistic approach to serve individuals of all age groups, from children to older adults.

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