Traveling with emotional support animals has become increasingly common in recent years, as more people are recognizing the benefits that these animals can provide.

However, many people are unsure whether or not they are allowed to bring their emotional support animals with them when they stay in hotels.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, emotional support animals are generally allowed in hotels, but there are some important things you need to know before bringing your animal with you.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the rules and regulations surrounding emotional support animals in hotels, including what types of animals are allowed, what documentation you need to provide, and what your rights are as a traveler with an emotional support animal.

Understanding Emotional Support Animals

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are becoming increasingly popular for individuals with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These animals provide comfort and support to their owners and can be a crucial part of their mental health treatment plan.

What Are Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional Support Animals are pets that provide emotional support and comfort to their owners. Unlike service animals, ESAs do not require any specific training and can be any type of animal, such as a dog, cat, rabbit, or even a snake. People with emotional or mental health issues can obtain a letter from a licensed mental health professional stating the need for an ESA to help manage their symptoms.

What Are the Benefits of Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional Support Animals can provide a range of benefits to their owners, including reducing anxiety, improving mood, and providing a sense of security. Studies have shown that interacting with animals can increase levels of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress and promotes feelings of happiness and well-being.

Additionally, ESAs can provide a sense of purpose and responsibility, which can be especially helpful for individuals with depression or other mental health conditions that can make it challenging to engage in day-to-day activities.

What’s the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal?

The main difference between an Emotional Support Animal and a Service Animal is their level of training and the tasks they perform. Service Animals are specifically trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities, such as guiding individuals with visual impairments or alerting individuals with hearing impairments to sounds.

ESAs, on the other hand, do not require any specific training and are not trained to perform tasks. Their primary function is to provide emotional support and comfort to their owners.

It’s important to note that while Service Animals are allowed in public spaces and are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ESAs are not afforded the same protections. However, under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), individuals with ESAs are allowed to live with their animals in housing that otherwise prohibits pets and are also allowed to fly with their animals in the cabin of an airplane without paying additional fees.

If you are considering obtaining an Emotional Support Animal, it’s important to speak with a licensed mental health professional to determine if an ESA is right for you and to obtain the necessary documentation to ensure your animal is allowed in housing and on flights.

Rules and Regulations for Emotional Support Animals in Hotels

Are Hotels Required to Allow Emotional Support Animals?

Yes, hotels are required to allow emotional support animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law states that individuals with disabilities have the right to have their emotional support animals accompany them in hotels and other public places. However, hotels can still enforce reasonable guidelines to ensure the safety and comfort of all guests.

What Types of Animals Are Allowed in Hotels?

Hotels must allow any type of animal that serves as an emotional support animal, as long as it is not a threat to the safety of others or causes damage to the property. This can include dogs, cats, birds, and even miniature horses. However, hotels are not required to allow exotic animals or animals that pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

What Documentation Do You Need to Provide?

Hotels can require documentation to verify that an animal is an emotional support animal. This can include a letter from a licensed mental health professional certifying the need for the animal. It is important to note that hotels cannot require documentation for service animals, as they are covered under a different set of laws.

What Are Your Rights as a Traveler with an Emotional Support Animal?

As a traveler with an emotional support animal, you have the right to equal access to hotel accommodations. This includes the right to have your animal accompany you in your hotel room, as well as any common areas such as lobbies and elevators. However, you are also responsible for ensuring that your animal is well-behaved and does not cause any damage or disruption to other guests.

It is important to research and comply with the hotel’s specific guidelines for emotional support animals before booking your stay. Some hotels may have additional requirements or restrictions, such as a weight limit for the animal. By being prepared and informed, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable stay for both you and your emotional support animal.

Tips for Traveling with Your Emotional Support Animal

Preparing for Your Trip

Traveling with an emotional support animal requires some preparation. First, ensure that your animal is up-to-date on all required vaccinations and has a health certificate from your veterinarian. Additionally, research the airline’s policies and regulations regarding emotional support animals to ensure that you have all necessary documentation. Finally, consider purchasing a carrier or harness to make traveling more comfortable for your animal.

Booking Your Hotel Room

It is important to research and book hotels that are pet-friendly and allow emotional support animals. Some hotels may require documentation from a doctor or therapist to confirm that your animal is a legitimate emotional support animal. When booking your room, be sure to inform the hotel of your animal’s presence and any special accommodations that may be necessary.

Navigating the Airport

Navigating the airport with an emotional support animal can be stressful, but there are ways to make it easier. Contact the airline ahead of time to inform them of your animal’s presence and to ensure that all necessary documentation is in order. Additionally, consider purchasing a carrier or harness that is compliant with airline regulations. Finally, be sure to arrive at the airport early to allow ample time for security and boarding procedures.

Dealing with Issues During Your Stay

Despite preparations, issues may still arise during your stay at a hotel. If you encounter any problems or discrimination due to your emotional support animal, it is important to remain calm and assertive. Inform the hotel staff of your rights and the laws regarding emotional support animals. If necessary, contact the Department of Justice or a disability rights organization for assistance.


In conclusion, emotional support animals are generally allowed in hotels, but it’s important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding their presence before you bring your animal with you.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure that your emotional support animal is welcomed and accommodated during your travels, allowing you to fully enjoy your trip with the support of your furry friend.

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