The times have changed – for the better – for your pets. About 50 years ago, animals and pets were seen as not being worthy enough to have emotions. Then with animal research showing that animals had entire communication systems they shared with each other, which included emotions, people started realizing that animals needed more attention. And now the cycle has turned full circle with the huge benefits that pets provide for their owners on an emotional basis. 

It goes beyond that though. Pets can be the major source of emotional support for people in a lot of situations. Even the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development changed their regulations to fully support owners who benefit greatly from having an emotional support animal. The department allows the pet to stay with the owner and do it without requiring a move-in pet deposit fee and allowing the pet to stay in a type of housing that doesn’t normally allow pets or animals. Some of these types of housing may include college or university housing facilities such as dormitories, residence halls, or university-owned apartments. 

Emotional support animals are animals that a professional counselor or health provider qualifies as an animal that alleviates some of the symptoms of the owner’s disability. 

How Does An Emotional Support Animal Save Someone’s Life?

For example, for someone who has an emotional or psychiatric disability, the emotions that person is experiencing are ones that could predispose him or her to suicidal thoughts and serious depression. It’s easy for someone who is bombarded with these types of thoughts to feel as if suicide is the only way out. As a result, their behavior starts to change. 

An emotional support animal will notice that its owner is starting to show signs of depression and will interrupt the process. The dog is not able to read the owner’s mind or thoughts but reads the person’s behavior and energetics, and then intervenes. This is why many people have been getting their animals certified with an Emotional Service Animal or ESA certificate. Find out more about obtaining an ESA certificate for your pet that gives you so much emotional support.

Without this intervention of the pet “saving the day”, the owner would have been left to himself to indulge in those negative emotions that do not serve him well. If they are emotions related to depression, his depression could get deeper and deeper until he entertains thoughts of suicide every waking moment. These thoughts need to and must be interrupted in order for the owner to get more on track with normal life once again. 

All emotions have a certain feeling or energetics to them. For example, there may be a certain heaviness in the room where the owner is that goes along with depression. With anger, there’s a feeling of aggression in the room. With happiness, there’s a feeling of lightness in the room. 

Pets Sense Feelings and What’s Occurring Without Training

Pets have a way of sensing these feelings and if the animal is compassionate, its mission will be to go over to the owner and ask to be petted, let out, fed, or do something to get the owner up out of the bed or chair where he is. This serves as a legitimate way to interrupt the person’s thinking. The owner must now attend to the dog and has to abandon the suicidal thoughts. Then after taking care of the animal the owner can go back to the chair or bed; however, the chances are good that he won’t return to that same line of thinking. This is how the emotional service animal is able to save the owner’s life. 

Anxiety Also Shows a Need for an Emotional Service Animal 

Another example is for those who have anxiety. In anxiety disorder, there are stress signals the dog picks up. Perhaps it’s the chaotic feeling of tension in the air plus the owner showing signs of extreme worry, sweating, irritability, restlessness, putting one’s hand over his heart (because it’s racing or pounding), or trembling, and any of these followed by fear. 

The dog will naturally pick up on these and run over to the owner’s side. The owner will experience an immediate drop in blood pressure once he starts petting the dog, as shown in the research studies on emotional support animals. 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Shows a Need for an Emotional Service Animal

One last example is of an owner that may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this case, the person will suddenly flashback to an incident in his past that was exceptionally overwhelming and then start reliving the situation with feelings of panic, fear, and a myriad of other negative emotions. 

Having PTSD is very distressing to an individual and to a family with a family member that has the disorder. However, an emotional service animal will help the owner interrupt the replaying of the scenario in the owner’s brain. By doing so, the owner can return to the present moment where there is no danger. This is what is needed because during the panic, someone can react in such a way that puts his life at risk. 

Benefits of an Emotional Service Animal – and Certification

Having animals around you when you have emotional or psychiatric disabilities is quickly becoming one of the best things that you can do. The animals help lower anxiety. They give you a constant companion – one that won’t disagree with your views on many different things. They lower your feeling of loneliness. 

More than that, studies show that emotional service animals have a way of reducing stress, lowering pain, increasing your sense of happiness and pleasure, and reducing depression and blood pressure. Dogs are the most common type of animal that fulfills the role of emotional support animals but cats also may step up to the plate and fulfill the same functions. An emotional service animal is not only a pet; it’s an animal that is doing a specific job. 

An emotional service animal does not need to be federally certified; however, having the certification in hand goes a long way to convincing housing officials that your dog or animal truly is there to help you. 

Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s). 

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