Are Emotional Support Dog Vests Required for ESAs?

An Emotional Support Dog Wearing a ESA Vest
We get asked this question quite frequently and the answer is no, but it is very helpful. There are no emotional support dog laws or regulations which state that you must clearly identify your ESA as an assistance animal or register your emotional support dog, and although it is not required for your animal to wear an Emotional Support Dog Vest, it is highly recommended.

Click Here To Get A Vest!

We recommend that your assistance animal be readily and easily distinguishable as being more than just a pet, particularly when flying.

Many airlines suggest the same.

Having your animal wear a brightly-colored ESA vest can help assist airline personnel, landlords, and everyone else that your ESA is more than just a pet.

Additionally, we recommend putting something on your animal’s ESA vest which says “do not pet” or “working dog” because most people simply do not know better.

Having random people constantly come up to pet your animal can be distracting for your ESA and can lessen its ability to mitigate the symptoms of your disability.

Measuring your Emotional Support Dog for a Vest

The first thing you need to do is accurately measure your dog. The following chart was made by our friends at Companion Animals is an aid for you to make sure that you order the correct size dog vest.

To properly measure your dog for an emotional support vest, take a flexible tape measure and place it around his girth – that is just behind the front legs and around his body, making sure you going underneath him or her at the widest part of its rib cage. Once you measure the dog for the first time, do it again to make sure the size of the ESA vest is the correct one for your dog, especially for a small dog.
emotional support dog vest chart

Click Here To Get A Vest!

Fabric Choice

Vests come in many fabrics and there are no regulations governing them. For dogs working in hot and humid climates, it is a good idea to choose a mesh vest. For other areas of the country use a vest made of cotton or another breathable fabric – avoid synthetics as they may be less comfortable for your dog.


The four most popular styles of  ESA vest are:
Padded vests – these vests usually have a handle on them for outdoors walking. Their weight approximates that of a lightweight winter jacket for people.
Light-weight cotton vests – perfect for your emotional support dog to wear throughout the year. Some come with pockets or an ID holder.
Mesh vests – great for dogs outdoors in warm weather
Backpack vests – good for someone like a student who has lots of books to carry about.
You can purchase any style of emotional support dog vest on Amazon or eBay.

What do you need in addition to the vest?

Now that you have measured your furry friend are ready to buy a vest, just remember that a person who is assisted by an emotional support animal must have an emotional support animal recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional.

The ESA letter must state that the animal’s handler has an emotional or mental disability identified in the DSM V and that the animal helps mitigate specific symptoms of the handler’s disability.

Click Here To Get A Vest!

Do you qualify for an ESA?

You can take our online pre-screening to see if you qualify for an emotional support animal. The survey only takes a few minutes and is 100% free.

Take My Free 5-Minute Screening


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  • Katie says:

    ESAs are NOT allowed in hotels or stores. Only a service animal is because ESAs are not covered under the uhm Americans with disabilities act or something like that.

    • Carol B says:

      No, that’s completely wrong. An ESA animal can go everywhere their handler per Federal law. I’ve stayed in hotels, dined in restaurants and flown with my ESA with NO problem.

      • CertaPet Staff says:

        Hi Carol B. Katie is right, restaurants and hotels are not required to Accommodate your ESAs. However, individual hotel/restaurant owners could choose to let you in as per their discretion.

  • Fullerton92832 says:

    I deal w PTSD I haven’t called the VA yet to find out if they issue an accepted letter for ESA.
    I’ve also noted all your comments regarding ” housing” is focused on apartments, and nothing is/was mentioned about hotel/motels.
    Can you comment on these issues, thank you

  • blindecherokee says:

    In Oklahoma if you have an ESA letter from a mental/behavioral health professional, you can bring a pet that is your ESA animal(regardless of species) as long as it is under control at all times IE leash carrier (rodents, birds,reptiles,etc). A harness or vest with patches and all necessary tags(rabies/civil registrations) and it is not inside a restaurant and/or fast food place. My letter covers all situations

  • twinTrickster says:

    I would like to qualify for a support cat, are there any vests for them?

  • Cortney says:

    Does an apartment complex have the right to refuse a doctors not from a mental healthcare provider about my ESA and make the doctor fill out a specisfic form just for the apartments ? Or is the doctors not all they need and should accept ?

  • Cortney Klassen says:

    Does an apartment complex have the right to refuse a doctors not from a mental healthcare provider about my ESA and make the doctor fill out a specisfic form just for the apartments ? Or is the doctors not all they need and should accept ?

  • Gary Conte says:

    I own a restaurant and last Sunday we had a woman bring a what she claims was an ESA dog in to the building. She was told that dogs were allowed on our back patio. When she went to the back patio she discovered two other dogs who barked at her dog so she wanted to go to our front patio. Other restaurants in town have been written up by the Health Department for allowing dogs. I would like to know if I am required to allow ESA on my patio or in my restaurant. I’m caught between her and the Health Department.

    • certapet says:

      Emotional Support Animals are not protected in public places like Service Animals because they are not protected under the ADA. Hope that helps.

      • Brittany says:

        Actually, ESA are protected under the ADA, but they do not have the same privileges as a service dog. They are protected by law for air travel and housing, but they are not protected by law to enter restaurants, stores, etc.

  • Erma says:

    All depends on the store and the mgr, and most IMPORTANT the area where you live. Here in NYC, well behaved pets are allowed almost everywhere..Walgreenes, BestBuy, Boarders, Kmart,Macys, Duane Read to name a few. It seems that if the store is located in a classy upper class neighborhood the better the chance for him to be allowed inside. However i always put him in a doggie stroller, that way there are no issues, sometimes i even close the zipper to go inside a fast food joint for a few minutes. I suffer from anxiety in public places and i also have a very bad fear of flying that is unbearable at times, having him w me calms me down because i concentrate on his wellbeing and put my issues in the back of my head…so i think having him by my side distracts me from my own issues??? Whatever it is, it helps.

  • Liam Dean says:

    My doctor wrote me a letter I shrunk it down a bit and laminated it. But he said bringing my dog into public stores and venues is ultimately up to a manager also concerning having the letter. Is this right?

  • Gie says:

    How i can register a companion dog?

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