Saturday, July 18, 2015 by: Antonia
(NaturalNews) While most people have heard of service training dogs, the notion of an “emotional support animal” (or ESA) is somewhat new to the base of cultural knowledge. Recently, the awareness of the many benefits of these pets is spreading fast.
Last November, the existence of emotional support animals came blasting into international headlines when a woman and her emotional support pig were asked to disembark from a U.S. Airways flight at Bradley International Airport. Presumably, the woman could not “control” her pet, according to the airline.
Jokes abounded in the wake of this incident. However, the value of the therapeutic support of these “furry friends” is inestimable.
If you are interested in the benefits of having an emotional support animal due to personal emotional distress or anxiety disorders, read on for the low-down.
- Service dog: According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a “service dog” is defined as “Any animal trained to do work for or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.”
- Emotional support animal: A dog or other common domestic animal that provides therapeutic support to a disabled or elderly owner through companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life.
- Mental health service dog: A category of service dog that is individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a mental impairment that rises to the level of a disability.
- Medical detection dog: Trained to assist individuals who manage complex medical conditions on a day-to-day basis.
Medical detection dogs can even be trained to detect increased levels of cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” in those who suffer from elevated levels of stress, for instance, children with autism, attention deficit disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder.
Multiple benefits of emotional support animals
If a doctor determines that you have a disabling mental condition that could be helped with the companionship and attention of an emotional support animal, they can actually prescribe an ESA.
In order to qualify, a person must be able to prove limitations on life activities because of their condition.
As opposed to the other kinds of support dogs and animals described above, an ESA requires little training, other than that they be trained to be considered well-behaved. For example, they must be toilet trained and have no habits that would disturb others in the vicinity.
There are numerous studies demonstrating the health benefits for those with pets, whether they are officially an ESA or not.
Examples of proven health benefits include:
- lower cholesterol
- lower blood pressure
- lower triglyceride
- reduced stress levels
- reduced feelings of loneliness
- better mental health
- increased activity
- more opportunities for exercise
- more time spent outdoors (for dog owners especially)
- more opportunities for socialization
How you can learn more about qualifying for an ESA
If you believe that you or a loved one could benefit from having an emotional support animal, there are many resources for you to investigate. Here are some of the best places for information and help:
About the author:
A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well.