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Emotional Support Animals for Anxiety

Emotional Support Animals for Anxiety

If you suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, panic attacks, PTSD, and other mental disorders, emotional support animals (ESA) can aid your anxiety treatment plan. An emotional support animal is not considered a pet or service animal. An emotional support animal is a companion whose presence can provide therapeutic benefits and help you manage your anxiety symptoms.

If you already have a pet, you can obtain an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional (if you meet the criteria) that qualifies your pet as an ESA. An ESA letter verifies that the animal benefits your mental health.

What is the Best Pet for Anxiety?

Owing any pet can be beneficial for your emotional and mental health. However, dogs and cats are considered the best pets for anxiety, so it is really about whether you are more of a dog or cat person.

Some people believe that caring for a dog or cat can have incredibly positive effects as one of the best ways to improve your mental health is to bond with your pet. Dogs and cats can help you feel less stressed, boost your mood, and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Scientific research shows that physical contact with your pet causes your brain to release hormones of happiness, oxytocin, and serotonin while blocking the stress hormone cortisol, helping you feel happier and more relaxed.

Also, dogs provide a sense of security, making you feel safer in their presence. Dogs, cats, and other animals cannot judge, which means you will feel nothing but unconditional love. These feelings of being loved and adored can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Additionally, caring for a pet requires specific lifestyle changes (for example, walking your dog every day), helping reduce loneliness, improving your mood, enhancing physical health, and much more.

Can Dogs Sense Anxiety?

There are reasons to believe dogs can sense your anxiety, similarly as they can smell fear. When we feel stressed out or worried, our body goes through various hormonal changes – the levels of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress-related chemicals in our body increase. Some people believe that dogs can sense these changes even before you become aware of them.

Service dogs are trained to sense upcoming anxiety attacks by smelling those bodily signs of anxiety.

How Do I Ask My Therapist for ESA?

If you are already in psychotherapy, you just need to ask your psychotherapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist to issue you an ESA letter. They will determine whether you qualify for an emotional support animal.

To meet the ESA requirements, you must have a disability that an ESA as part of your treatment can improve.

What is the Cleanest Pet to Own?

Some of the cleanest pets to own involve hamsters, guinea pigs, cats, and dogs. While one of the biggest problems with dogs and cats is hair, some dog breeds, such as Labradoodles, shed less, keeping your home clean. However, the best way to handle hair shedding is by regularly grooming your pet.

Small pets such as hamsters and guinea pigs are very easy to look after as they are relatively clean animals.

What Small Animals Like to Cuddle?

Small pets such as guinea pigs and hamsters are great pets for kids as they love to cuddle and provide a lot of entertainment.

These animals can also be excellent emotional support animals as they can improve your mood and help you feel less stressed out.

Can Dogs Tell If You Don’t Like Them?

Dogs are believed to be very socially aware. Research has shown that they can sense human emotions and pick up on your energy. For example, your dog can discern between happy and angry facial expressions, so you would right to believe that they can tell if you are upset with them.

While dogs usually trust their owners, it is believed that they can sense if a person is untrustworthy. On the other hand, if a dog recognizes you as an animal lover, they will most likely display behaviors such as sticking close to your side, wagging their tail, letting their tongue hang out, licking your hand, or rolling over on their back.

Do Dogs Get Sad When You Yell at Them?

Whether trained or not, most dogs will understand short verbal commands. However, they don’t understand angry yelling, and such behavior can make them sad, scared, or upset. Dogs cannot make a connection about their bad behavior the same way humans do and don’t have memories of things they did. For instance, if you come from work and yell at your dog for tearing up your couch, they will not understand why. So, yelling is ineffective. Plus, it can confuse and sadden your dog.

What Does it Mean When a Dog Rests His Head on You?

This is a simple way your dog uses to say that he loves you. Dogs use body language to show affection. Some dogs will rest their head on your lap while others will lay their head on your feet or your knee or simply lean against you to connect with you and show love.

How Does an ESA Help with Anxiety?

Emotional support animals’ company provides comfort for people with anxiety and other mental health disorders. Their companionship can relieve anxiety symptoms, improve mood, and help you relax. ESA presence is also believed to reduce loneliness, alleviate stress, and increase pleasure. These animals can boost your self-esteem, improve social engagement, increase your sense of purpose, and help you feel safe.

Emotional support animals can provide comfort to people who suffer from the following mental health issues:

  • Mild to severe anxiety
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Phobia
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Stress burnout

How Do I Certify ESA?

Having an anxiety disorder doesn’t automatically qualify you for an emotional support animal. You need to obtain a doctor’s or mental health professional’s prescription or ESA letter. To register your pet as an emotional support animal, you need an ESA letter from a licensed health provider stating that the animal can benefit your health.