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Emotional Support Dog Vests: All You Need to Know

April 25, 2022

If you have ever seen an emotional support animal or service dog, they have likely been wearing a vest that states their status as a working animal. Service dog or emotional support animal vests are not required by law, but they can be beneficial to have. Read on to learn more about emotional support dog and service dog vests, how to measure your dog for one, and what to consider when purchasing one.

Are Vests Required for Emotional Support Dogs or Service Animals?

The law does not require emotional support dogs to wear vests. However, they are very helpful to have, and most experts recommend them. Vests make your dog easily recognizable as an emotional support animal or service animal. This can cut down on a lot of confusion and stress when you are entering public locations or traveling with your dog. Without a clear marker of your dog’s status, you may be met with resistance when trying to make your way through the world with your dog. With an ESA or service dog vest, however, everyone will be able to tell that your dog is an emotional support animal or service dog and should not be treated as an average pet.

Measuring Your Dog

Before you start searching for emotional support dog vests, you will need to measure your dog. This is to ensure that you get the right size vest for your dog. If the vest is too large, your dog will be able to slip right out of it. If it’s too small, it could dig into your dog’s body and hurt them. To measure your pup, you will need a flexible measuring tape. Wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of his or her rib cage. Usually, vests are adjustable and can be worn by dogs in a range of sizes. Use their measurement and the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer to see what size is best for your dog.


Vests for emotional support animals or service dogs are available in a range of different fabrics. Different materials are better suited for different climates. For service dogs in hot and humid areas, a mesh vest is ideal. For other areas, vests made of cotton and other breathable materials are the best choice. Try to avoid synthetic materials as they may be uncomfortable for your dog.

Vest Style

There are four main types of service dog vests for sale. They include:

  • Mesh Vests: This type is ideal for ESAs in warm climates.
  • Lightweight Cotton Vests: This is a standard vest that is suitable for all temperatures. Some of them come with pockets and ID tag holders.
  • Padded Vests: These vests are heavier and better for being outdoors in the cold weather. They will often have handles on them to provide more control.
  • Backpack Vests: If you need to carry a lot of things, consider getting a backpack vest for your dog. This style has pockets designed for this purpose.


The vest must also have the right patches on it so your dog can easily be identified when out in public. The patch should denote your dog as an emotional support animal or service dog. This way, people will not perceive your dog as a pet but rather a working dog, and they will be less likely to try to pet them. You may also want to put something on the vest that says “Do Not Pet” or “Working Dog.” Some people may not know what an ESA is and may try to pet your dog anyway; with an additional sign, they will know not to distract your dog.

Reach out to us at the National Service Animal Registry to learn more about buying a vest for your service animal.

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