2 November, 2016

Companion Dog for Anxiety- How Can They Help?

Emotional Support Dog for Anxiety

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone feels from time to time. Many people feel anxiety before a big test,  because of work, or even just making an important life decision. Most people think anxiety is the same thing as just being afraid, but it’s not. Fear is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat. Anxiety is the expectation of future threat and a feeling of uneasiness and worry. This is usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing. Its symptoms include, muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue and problems with concentration. Someone who feels anxiety all the time might suffer from an anxiety disorder. This is where a companion dog for anxiety might help.

What are the Types of Anxiety?

As we mentioned above, everyone feels anxious from time to time, but an Anxiety Disorder is different. Anxiety disorders can cause so much stress that the person cannot lead a normal life. There are many anxiety disorders that people can suffer from including Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder just to name a few. Panic Disorder is a condition where people have a sudden strike of terror which is usually followed by a panic attack which includes chest pains, sweating, and the general feeling like you’re going crazy. Social Anxiety Disorder is a notorious social phobia where a person is overly self-conscious about social situations. The common worry with Social Anxiety Disorder is a feeling of not fitting-in, which would lead to ridicule. Lastly is General Anxiety Disorder, where a person feels excessive, unrealistic worry and tension, even if there is little to nothing to provoke this.

Symptoms of Anxiety disorder

It depends on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include, but are not limited to :

  • Heart palpitations
  • Problems sleeping
  • Feeling of panic or unease
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Cold or sweaty hands or feet
  • Dry mouth
  • Inability to stay calm
  • Shortness of breath

What is a Companion Dog for Anxiety?

A companion dog for anxiety is also known as an emotional support animal or ESA. As most dog owners already know, dogs are wonderful emotional support animals. An emotional support animal is defined as an animal that, by just being with a person, mitigates the emotional or psychological symptoms associated with an owner’s condition or disorder. An emotional support dog needs no special training, unlike a therapy or service animal. All that is needed for an ESA is a prescription from a licensed mental health professional. An emotional support animal is simply there to calm their owner during anxiety provoking situations.

How does a Companion Dog for Anxiety Help?

Companion dogs help for anxiety in a multitude of ways. Most notably, they are used for flying. Having anxiety while flying is a real problem for a lot of people. More than 25 million people in the United States have anxiety or an anxiety disorder, and flying brings out this disorder in a large amount of those people. The Air Carrier Access Act allows you to take your dog as an emotional support animal with you on a flight, as long as you have an official prescription letter from a licensed medical or mental health professional. Most airlines need advance notice that you’re bringing an emotional support animal with you, so check with your carrier before booking your flight.  Be careful of fake sites selling ESA letters, as these can be a scam, something one of our customers learned the hard way before finding CertaPet. 

Final Thoughts on Companion Dogs for Anxiety

If you have any more questions on the process of finding or making your dog a emotional support animal, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. If you need help picking out the right dog breed for you, please visit our link on top dog breeds for companion animals.  The first step in getting a companion dog for anxiety or any other disorder is taking our short simple 5 minute survey to see if you’re a good candidate for an emotional support animal.

See If You Qualify for an Emotional Support AnimalCompanion Dog for Anxiety