How Much Does It Cost to Make Your Dog an Emotional Support Animal? (Price Estimates)

Embracing the bond between humans and animals is a profound experience, one that can bring immense emotional support and comfort. These furry or feathered friends offer a source of unwavering love and empathy, helping individuals cope with anxiety, depression, and other emotional challenges. 

In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the world of ESAs, uncovering the various costs involved and emphasizing the importance of financial considerations when deciding to bring an ESA into your life.

Types of Emotional Support Animals

When it comes to ESAs, diversity reigns. These compassionate companions come in various shapes and sizes, from the loyal dog to the serene cat, the aquatic fish to the whimsical cockatoo.

Each type of animal carries its unique charm and therapeutic qualities. However, it is crucial to recognize that the costs associated with ESAs can vary widely depending on the species you choose.

Caring Dog

Initial Costs

Therapist or Psychiatrist Fees

The journey begins with a consultation with a licensed mental health professional. They will assess your mental health and determine whether an emotional support dog (ESD) [1] would be beneficial. This initial consultation can cost anywhere from $100 to $300.

Training and Certification

While ESDs do not require specialized training like service dogs, they should still exhibit good behavior and social skills. Training costs can vary widely, but a basic obedience class might cost between $100 and $300.

Vet Checkup

It’s essential to ensure your dog is in good health. A vet checkup, vaccinations, and obtaining a health certificate may cost around $100 to $200.

Vest and Gear

Though not mandatory, many ESD owners choose to purchase vests or gear that clearly identify their dog as an emotional support animal. These items typically range from $20 to $50.

Emotional Support Dogs

Costs of Owning a Dog as an ESA: Diverse Expenses Based on Size

Dogs have long held the title of “man’s best friend,” and for many, they make ideal emotional support animals. Nevertheless, owning a dog as an ESA involves more than cuddles and wagging tails. The size of the dog plays a pivotal role in determining expenses.

Small Dogs

Small breeds often come with lower maintenance costs. On average, annual expenses for a small dog, including food, grooming, veterinary care, and general upkeep, amount to approximately $800. Small dogs typically have a longer life expectancy, averaging around 14 years.

Medium-Sized Dogs

While medium-sized dogs may have a shorter life expectancy of roughly 11 years, they compensate for it with their heartwarming presence. Their annual expenses tend to be higher, with an estimated cost of around $1,100. This increased cost is primarily due to larger portions of food and more extensive grooming requirements.

Large Dogs

Man's Bestfriend

The most expensive option among dogs is large breeds. Despite a shorter life expectancy of approximately ten years, large dogs incur annual expenses of roughly $1,500. Their size contributes to higher food and grooming costs.


Turning your beloved dog into an Emotional Support Dog can be a life-changing experience, offering you invaluable companionship and emotional support. However, it’s essential to recognize the financial commitments involved. 

Remember that the costs associated with making your dog an ESD are an investment in your well-being. The emotional support and comfort your furry friend provides are priceless. So, while there are expenses involved, the rewards of having an ESD by your side as you navigate life’s challenges are immeasurable. 


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