Emotional Support Dogs: What You Need to Know

If you haven’t heard, emotion support animals are a thing now. In fact, there are thousands of pets in the US registered as such.

These are not the same as service dogs. Service dogs are especially trained to help those with disabilities perform tasks essential to their daily lives. Things like helping their owners to cross the road or performing household chores are a part of the rigorous training service dogs get so that their owners can navigate through life safely. That is why service dogs are considered more of a form of medical equipment with how important they are in the daily lives of those suffering from hearing, vision, or mobility disabilities.

Emotional support dogs are different. These pups receive no training at all, their only job being to provide unconditional love and support to their owners. Someone in need of an emotional support dog likely suffers from some type of emotional health condition. Examples of these include:

  • Phobias
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Other mood disorders

Emotional support animals can be dogs or cats or even pigs! They are helpful to people with the aforementioned afflictions by providing comfort and stability to their lives. This is especially important when someone is having some sort of episode, their emotional support dog can sooth them in times of need. As emotional support animals become more integral in treating these conditions and disorders, doctors are noticing a reduction in blood pressure, anxiety, and cholesterol.

Know Your Rights

Emotional support dogs may not be seen as essential or as functional as service dogs, but there are still laws and protections in place for you and your emotional support animal. Planes are required to allow you to bring your emotional support dog with you on flights at no extra charge. Pet-free apartments and housing facilities must also permit you to bring your emotional support dog at no added cost. Public places such as libraries and hotels, however, still consider your emotional support animal the same as any normal pet so they can bar them from the premises if they have a no pets allowed policy.

If you believe you may be in need of an emotional support animal, speak with your doctor about prescribing you one or helping to register an existing pet as an emotional support animal.