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Health Benefits of Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

Health Benefits of Emotional Support Animals (ESA)
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Many people have heard of service training dogs. However, the notion of “emotional support animals” (ESA) is foreign to most people. In recent years, there has been an increase in awareness of the benefits of these pets.

If you are like most people, you may probably have come to know about emotional support animals when the news of a woman who was told to disembark from a U.S. Airways flight at Bradley International Airport with her emotional support pig broke out. According to the airline, the woman could not “control” her pet.

Jokes aside, there is no doubt of the value of these “furry friends”. Read on to find out some of the benefits of emotional support animals.

Emotional Support Animals Definitions

Before we continue, let’s look at some important definitions related to emotional support dogs.

Medical Detection Dog. A dog trained to help individuals manage complex medical conditions on a daily basis. These dogs can be trained to detect increased levels of stress hormones known as cortisol in people with high stress levels such as children with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit disorder and autism.

Mental Health Service Dog. A service dog that has been trained to provide assistance to a person that is mentally impaired more than disabled.

Emotional Support Dog. A common domestic animal, such as a dog, that provides therapeutic support to an elderly or disabled owner through a focus in life, affection, non-judgmental positive regard and companionship.

Service Dog. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a services dog as “Any animal trained to do work for or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.”

Benefits of Emotional Support Animals

emotional-support-animalIf you are prescribed with a disabling mental condition that could be helped with attention and companionship of an emotional support animal, a doctor can prescribe an ESA. It must be proven that a patient has limitations in life activities for him or her to qualify for an ESA.

Unlike is the case with other types of support animals, ESAs have to be trained. Apart from his, they have to be well-behaved. For example, they should not have habits that would disturb others in the vicinity and must know how to use the toilet.

There are a number of studies that have shown the health benefits that people with pets enjoy, whether or not they are officially ESA. Some of the benefits include:

  • More socialization opportunities
  • More time spent outdoors (especially for dog owners)
  • More exercising opportunities
  • Increased activity
  • Better mental health
  • Reduced feelings of loneliness
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Lower triglyceride
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol

Where Can You Find More Information About ESAs?

If you feel that you or your loved one could benefit from having an emotional support animal, you can find out more about the animals at various websites. Here are some of the top resources you can check:

www.petpartners.org

medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk

www.certapet.com

servicedogcentral.org

www.ada.gov

www.courant.com

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