Would You Benefit from the Emotional Support of a Pet?

Posted on: 30 November 2016

Many people can benefit from the emotional support and companionship of a pet, yet may not realize it. An emotional support animal is typically a pet that helps the handler with mental health symptoms, and that a mental health professional endorses as therapeutic for the individual. While many emotional support pets are not registered, it is best to follow state guidelines to register your emotional support pet to ensure you receive emotional support animal certification and you can take the pet in certain places, businesses, or establishments, and that your rights are protected by law.  

Talk to your provider about how your pet can support and help with the following symptoms:

Anxiety. Petting, stroking, or cuddling pets can lower blood-pressure and improve heart health; it's true! When you spend time with your pet, a relaxation hormone is released in your body, lowering overall stress and improving holistic health. Also, active pets (like dogs) require exercise and walks, which is also a stress-reliever; exercise is great therapy for anxiety.

Trauma. After an individual has experienced emotional trauma, it may be difficult to trust and rely on others in the aftermath. Pets are a comforting presence that loves unconditionally, which can help trauma survivors past their experience and move forward in recovery. Dogs, cats, reptiles, and rodents are all examples of pets that can help alleviate traumatic symptoms, soothe agitation, and provide the support needed.

Grief and loss. Pets can be a great comfort to anyone at a time of loss, such as a death or the demise of a relationship. Many bereavement support groups enlist the services of therapy dogs to help members overcome their deep sadness and grief. These animals can also provide much-needed companionship to individuals that have lost a partner or that are experiencing loneliness.

Depression. Pets are therapeutic for individuals struggling with depression, too. Dogs are lauded for being effective at improving mood and alleviating depression in those that suffer from mood fluctuation or dysregulation. Furthermore, caring for a beloved pet can provide a sense of purpose which is so very important for those struggling with depression or feelings of hopelessness.

If being near your pet makes you feel better, it is an emotional support animal. Have your pet endorsed by your mental health provider and registered to ensure access when you go outside the home. Animals are very therapeutic and have proven helpful with a wide range of symptoms, conditions, and illnesses, contributing to emotional, physical, and mental well-being.