Everyone has stress, and not all stress is bad. However, when the situations and challenges we are facing daily leave us feeling overwhelmed, irritable, resentful and unable to cope, then stress begins to have negative effects on our physical and emotional health. Instead of letting the symptoms of stress affect your life, talk to your doctor about the benefits of an emotional support dog.
Less Stress with Other Animals, Too
Other animals — cats, rabbits, horses, etc. — can provide emotional support and ease stress. We tend to emphasize service dog registration because dogs need to be taken on walks. This need naturally moves us outdoors, among people and into some gentle exercise, which eases so many mental and physical health conditions. And any breed, age or sex of dog can be used as an emotional support animal (ESA).
Symptoms of Stress
Study after study has shown that stress affects the entire body. Medical News Today says our body reacts in these ways when we’re feeling stressed:
- Our pulse and blood pressure go up
- We breathe more quickly
- Our digestive system gets slower
- Our immune system suffers
- We don’t sleep well
- We experience a wide range of negative emotions
These reactions feed on each other, and once set in motion are hard to stop.
Unfortunately, society and the workplace today seem to believe that a certain amount of negative stress is just part of life. Who hasn’t heard a friend or co-worker bragging about how many hours she works or how early she was up checking email?
Pets Relieve Real-Time Stress
Fortunately, ESAs are becoming more common. People often have a pet they derive a great deal of comfort from without realizing the pet could become a certified ESA. In one study at a university in California, a student had been raised with a rabbit as a pet. When she went to college, she left the rabbit at home and was having difficulty attending classes, keeping up with homework and “fitting in.” After her doctor intervened, the school allowed the student to bring her pet rabbit to the dorm as an ESA. As a result, her grades began to go up as her stress began to subside.
Another university allows a local animal rescue to bring puppies to campus once a month for any student who wants to visit with them. Officials there say the dogs offer instant relief for the students’ stress.
In a similar use of pets to reduce stress, cat cafes are extremely popular in Japan and becoming so in other countries, including Russia, Thailand, Poland, Latvia and many others. (Though the United States has a few cat cafes, they are generally meant to be adoption centers.) Japan, a country known for its demanding work hours and high pressure on performance, opened cat cafes to give workers a stress break; because the country is so crowded, few people own their own pets.
A Therapy Strategy
ESAs also help people who are in therapy. The stress of attending therapy appointments can become too much for some patients, and when they stop attending sessions, they no longer get the needed treatment. Patients with an emotional support animal are far more likely to feel motivated to attend therapy sessions than those without a support animal.
Moreover, an ESA dog can be a truly calming force in a patient’s life as well as a powerful distraction from whatever stressors the dog’s owner is facing.
For information about getting your dog recognized as an emotional support pet, visit Moosh and get started today.