May 25, 2023
What is an Emotional Support Animal & Do You Need One?
An animal can be a good source of comfort and a much-needed physical presence during distressing times. They promote emotional stability by providing companionship and helping remove the focus from everyday challenges.
An emotional support animal can be a dog, cat, or even, as shown on Eyewitness News, a pig if it comforts its owner. They do not have to undergo specific training; this defines them as emotional support animals rather than service animals. For example, a service animal dog will have been specially trained to perform tasks and work for a person with a physical disability. In contrast, an animal that provides therapy, comfort, and companionship benefits a person mentally and emotionally. Zocdoc explains this further in their feature on the differences between other support dogs, as the article looks at psychiatric service dogs. These are trained to work with people whose disability is due to mental illness and will perform tasks for their owner rather than emotional support alone.
Why Do Animals Make People Happier
Studies have shown that 87% of Americans are happier than average because they have a pet. Federico Rossano, a cognitive scientist, said, ‘For example, a dog understands human communication better than a human primate.’ This is true; if you are greeted by your dog wagging its tail and being happy to see you after a stressful day, it shows they understand how you are feeling and that they have missed you, too.
Being more active boosts your energy levels by producing hormones and chemicals that reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses. Walking your pet is a perfect way of increasing your exercise time. Taking your dog for a walk also has a significant social aspect; meeting new people and making friends is much easier if you have something in common such as your love of dogs. Also, peace and tranquility to be found while out and about leave you feeling relaxed and content, helping to combat depression and anxiety. This is explained further in our article ‘5 Reasons Pet Owners Are Healthier and Happier’ that shows how a pet helps improve your health.
Bonding with an animal and forming a positive relationship will boost a child’s self-esteem when they realize the trust and love between them. Both kids and pets will enjoy high-energy playtimes and cuddles at naptime, leaving both happy and loved.
Feeling safe and secure is a must for young and old alike; the reassurance of having a dog or cat in your home will stop you from feeling alone. Plus, a burglar is much less likely to target a house with a dog barking, giving you added security.
What Makes You Eligible for an Emotional Support Animal?
There are no rules as to who would or would not benefit from having an emotional support animal. However, to be legally recognized, the owner must be diagnosed with mental health problems by a practicing therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
Finding the right pet for your needs should be relatively straightforward. Animal shelters such as Four Paws, animal welfare societies, pet stores, or anywhere else that are pet orientated have many waiting to be re-homed. This article on ‘The Power of Pets’ shows how owning a pet will give purpose to your daily life. Having a set routine for feeding and exercise times is good motivation to think about something other than your problems.
Taking care of an animal is a big responsibility; you need to be physically fit enough to walk a dog and look after whatever different kinds of animal you have. All these things help people with mental health problems by shifting the focus to caring for the emotional support animal. They will feel needed, loved, and not alone.