Skip to content

Checking In: Hotel Stays with Service Dogs vs. Emotional Support Animals

Embarking on a journey with our beloved pet is typically straightforward. However, for those with service dogs and emotional support animals (ESAs), these trusted companions are integral parts of individuals’ lives, and their presence becomes particularly significant during travel. When those relying on their support animals need to book hotel stays, it’s vital to understand the rights and regulations surrounding service dogs and emotional support animals. This ensures that individuals who depend on these animals can access the accommodations they need while traveling.

Service dogs and ESAs play pivotal roles in facilitating these journeys, ensuring comfort, assistance, and companionship along the way. So, before you head out, here’s what you need to know to ensure a stress-free hotel stay.

To start, it’s important to understand the difference between service dogs and emotional support animals.

Service Dogs

Service dogs are highly trained to assist individuals with disabilities, offering a wide range of support tailored to their handlers’ specific needs. From guiding individuals who are blind to alerting those who are deaf or providing mobility assistance, service dogs are invaluable partners in navigating the world.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals offer companionship, alleviate loneliness, and can provide assistance with depression and anxiety. However, they generally lack specialized training to perform tasks that aid individuals with disabilities.

Who’s welcome and where?

Service dogs’ access rights to hotels are part of the public access rights bestowed on service dogs and their handlers under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means they cannot be treated as pets and can generally go wherever their handlers can. This also means that you and your dog will be allowed in public areas of the hotel, as well as on floors and in rooms not normally designated for people traveling with pets. In addition, they are not relegated exclusively to hotels that allow pets. However, it’s important to note that hotel staff may not always be fully aware of this, and they may unintentionally overlook these rights.

Unlike service dogs, ESAs or emotional support animals are not covered under the ADA. This means that they can only stay at hotels that allow pets.

Pet policies and pet fees

As service dogs are technically not considered pets, they are exempt from any pet fees and common hotel pet policy rules that restrict pet weight limit breed restrictions, pet deposits, pet cleaning fees, etc…

Alternatively, emotional support animals need to abide by all hotel pet rules and regulations. Therefore, pet parents are responsible for pet fees and/or pet deposits, and following all house rules in regards to pets.

Know before you go

Knowing the ins and outs of hotel policies regarding service dogs and emotional support animals can make a world of difference in your travel experience. Whether you’re accompanied by a loyal service dog or a comforting emotional support pet, understanding your rights helps to ensure a hassle-free stay and allows you to focus on enjoying your trip with your cherished companion by your side. Safe travels!

Author: Kim Salerno, CEO/Founder TripsWithPets, Inc.
About TripsWithPets
TripsWithPets is the go-to website for booking pet-friendly accommodations across the United States and Canada.

Pet parents go to for all they need to find and book the perfect place to stay with their pets – including detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities.

As passionate animal advocates, TripsWithPets gives back by supporting 501(c)(3) animal welfare organizations through their annual Partners for Animal Welfare Series (PAWS).

Linkedin  Facebook  Instagram
Trips With Pets, Inc. | P.O. Box 343Youngsville, NC 27596

Leave a Comment