What is an emotional support dog?

An emotional support dog (ESA) is an animal that can provide emotional and therapeutic benefit to those suffering from mental illnesses. They must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional such as a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.

ESAs can be almost any species of animal; dog, cat, or reptile. Unlike service dogs, emotional support animals do not require any specific training to become an ESA, just simply a recommendation from a physician.

Emotional support animals are protected against housing discrimination, meaning that a landlord cannot prohibit you from living in their rental property, even if they have a “no pets policy”.

ESAs are not required to wear an identifying vest or tag like service dogs, but you might want to have one for times that you are in public or businesses like an airline to avoid having to constantly explain yourself. If you are looking for a vest for your ESA, check this one out on Amazon.

french bulldog esa

Why would someone want a French Bulldog as a therapy dog?

We all know there’s nothing better seeing your dog after a long, stressful day! They always seem to be able to cheer us up even when things aren’t going so well.

Did you know that there are actually many other proven health benefits of ESAs (and pets in general)?

Feel less lonely

Many people suffering from mental disorders such as social anxiety tend to stay at home as much as they can to avoid putting themselves in uncomfortable situations. Unfortunately, this isolation can get pretty depressing and many people find themselves in this cycle.

For homebodies, there’s nothing better than having a companion that loves you unconditionally. Some Frenchies are especially clingy and need you more than you need them!

Having a dog also opens up the possibility of socializing while outside with them. It’s impossible to stay in your house all day when you have a dog! They force you to go outside. While walking and playing at dog parks, you’ll meet tons of people with the same interest and love for dogs that you do.

sad french bulldog

Reduces anxiety

Panic attacks and severe anxiety are some of the most common and debilitating mental illnesses. It’s nearly impossible for others to calm you down or quell your irrational worries, and not many people seem to fully understand what’s going on.

There have been many studies that show anxiety and stress levels decrease when a sufferer is with their pet. Chronic stress can have many negative effects on your body over a long period of time. An emotional support animal has its emotional benefits as well as the physical benefits associated with better mental health.

Physical benefits

The Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work reported an 82% reduction in PTSD symptoms in individuals with an emotional support animal in one week.

There has also been evidence of decreased heart rates and more oxytocin being released (the feel-good hormone)

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower triglyceride levels
  • Increased physical activity

Various other health benefits such as

  • Feeling more safe and comfortable
  • More motivation
  • Increased social activity
  • Boost in self-esteem
  • Reduced stress levels

What is the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog?

Emotional support dogs are NOT service dogs; this means that you and your ESA do not have the same rights that one with a service dog would.

Service dogs are allowed anywhere in public.

An emotional support dog won’t be allowed to accompany you to

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels that do not permit animals
  • Stores
  • Work

french bulldog service dog

People with an emotional support animal may request a reasonable accommodation such as a waiver of no pets policy due to the animal being an emotional support animal under both the FHAA and Section 504.

What conditions qualify you for an emotional support dog?

Did you know that 1 in 4 adults in the United States have some type of mental disorder? Most mental or emotional conditions will qualify you for an emotional support animal given your mental health professional thinks you would benefit from an ESA.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear or phobias
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Mood Disorders
  • Personalities Disorders
  • Stress
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

How do I get my dog to be my emotional support animal?

While emotional support animals aren’t required to go through the same extensive training as a service dog, they still require basic training to ensure it can behave well in public.

What are the steps for obtaining an emotional support dog?

In order to get an emotional support dog, you must be prescribed one by your mental health provider whether it’s a psychiatrist or therapist. If you qualify for an ESA, the process is relatively simple.

  1. You must be diagnosed with a mental disorder that qualifies you for an emotional support dog.
  2. Ask your mental health professional (i.e. therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist) about getting a prescription for an emotional support animal.
  3. If they agree that an ESA may be beneficial to you, they will write a letter describing the condition you suffer from and how the ESA will help your treatment.

This ESA letter is good for a year starting the date you received it.

Can I fly with an emotional support dog?

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows emotional support dogs on airplanes when individuals with emotional support dogs are traveling. Be sure to let your airline know at least 48 hours in advance that you plan to bring an emotional support animal so they can make accommodations.

There is no additional “pet fee” charged by airlines to travel with an emotional support animal and they are allowed to sit on your lap during the flight.

french bulldog on a plane

Are French Bulldogs good therapy dogs?

What even makes a good emotional support animal? We could probably all agree that these traits are what one might look for in a therapy dog.

  • Good temperament
  • Love people (especially their owner)
  • Is okay with clumsy petting, hugs, or being accidentally bumped
  • Doesn’t bark a lot
  • Good manners
  • Friendly to children

Do Frenchies meet these requirements?! Of course they do! If you’re looking for a companion that will always be by your side, look no further than a French Bulldog!

Frenchies love their owners more than anything in the world and will always stick by your side. Whether you want to lay in bed all day and watch TV or go outside for a jog, they’re sure to be right there by your feet!

Because of their stocky, rugged body, Frenchies aren’t fazed by clumsy petting, overbearing hugs, or being bumped into! This is especially a huge plus when there are children around that might get too excited around dogs.

I don’t know about you, but nothing stresses me out more than a dog that won’t stop barking. Thankfully, Frenchies almost never bark! While this is great in most circumstances, in my case, my Frenchie doesn’t even bark to go potty outside!

french bulldog on a swing set

Closing Thoughts

If you are on the fence about getting a French Bulldog as an emotional support animal, you should find somebody that has one so you can play with it!

You are the only one that can decide if a Frenchie is the right ESA for you.


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