An emotional support animal doesn’t need to be a dog or a cat, but these are the most common animals people choose when getting their first ESA pet. Although you might find a variety of ESA companions ranging from birds, turtles and hedgehogs to snakes, rabbits and ferrets, most chose an emotional support animal that is of the mammal variety, typically a dog or a cat. In this article, we’re going to help you decide between the two so you can find the perfect emotional support animal to suit your particular needs.
Why People Get An Emotional Support Animal
An emotional support animal is just like a normal pet. The main difference is that they have been prescribed as a form of treatment by a licensed mental health professional. This means that the animal, unlike a normal pet, is allowed certain privileges that are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The two most important are laws affect your ability to live with your animal regardless of any property rules and your ability to fly with the animal in the cabin of a commercial airline. These rights are protected by laws, but most people get an ESA animal for the many social, emotional and physical benefits. These benefits vary between cats and dogs, and each has a case for why they might be the right choice for you.
The Case for an ESA Dog
Dogs are the most common choice for an ESA animal. The benefits of having an emotional support dog can be broken into three main categories: physical, social and emotional.
First and foremost, having an ESA dog means you’ll increase your physical activity. A dog needs to be walked, and you will need to play with it. As a result, you will be healthier. Studies have shown that dogs can give you a healthier heart and reduce the risk of heart attacks. For ESA owners who have suffered a heart attack, ESA dogs are reported to improve their recovery rate by more than 70 percent compared to those who don’t own dogs. Dogs can also help you lower your cholesterol, partly through exercise and partly through stress relief, and dogs can help you reduce blood pressure.
Dogs create a sense of companionship and well-being. Whether you live alone or in a family, ESA dog ownership has been proven to increase happiness. They promote interaction and are always a topic of conversation. Every ESA dog owner knows that dog ownership can lead to more social interactions.
Dogs help their owners feel safer and less anxious in both social situations and when they’re on their own with their pets. Dogs help people cope with death and other serious illnesses and act as compassionate companions that can understand an owner’s pain. Dogs provide stress relief as well as physical contact for someone who is lonely. ESA dogs help to lift someone’s mood and fight depression for those suffering from acute forms of it. ESA dogs provide companionship and something to care for. They help you to schedule your life and provide a consistency and unconditional love for their owners.
The Case for an ESA Cat
Cats are the second most common choice as an emotional support animal. Just like dogs, the benefits of ESA cat ownership can be broken down into physical, emotional and social categories.
Cats need exercise, too, they just need less of it, and play typically takes place in the home. This doesn’t mean that the exercise can’t be vigorous and fun and that you won’t be reaping the benefits as well. Cats are a great choice for people who suffer immobility issues to keep active through low strain activities. Additionally, cats can help to lower your chances of suffering from heart disease. Studies have shown that throughout a 10-year period, cat owners were 30 percent less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than those who didn’t own a cat. Cats lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and studies have shown that sharing a bed with a cat can help you sleep better.
Cats are considered aloof, but they are especially effective in helping you cope with the loss of a loved one and acting as a form of social support when you need it most. Like dogs, cats fulfill your need for companionship. In fact, studies have shown that having a cat in the house is the equivalent of having a significant other. Cats require nurturing, and this helps their owners to develop their empathy skills. Cats also help to fight feelings of loneliness, structure your life and can help you cope with and fight depression.
Unlike dogs, ESA cats don’t need to be walked. They may, of course, need to be taken to the vet, and they’re always open to being a topic of conversation. Another big benefit of ESA cat ownership is that they don’t require the excessive attention that dogs do and can be left in a house for hours alone, perfectly capable of entertaining themselves. This is important for those with busy and active lives or for those who live in large cities.
How to Get an Emotional Support Animal Letter
Choosing an emotional support animal is completely up to you! Of course, if you can’t decide, you could always get both and have the best of both worlds. Most important, in order to get the legal benefits of having an ESA-registered pet, you’ll need an emotional support animal letter. This letter is issued to you on behalf of a licensed mental health professional and states that they recommend the treatment of an ESA for an emotional or mental issue for which you are being treated. With that letter, you’ll be open to the wide range of legal benefits ESA ownership ensures. All you have to do is make that hard choice: Dog or cat?