Emotional Support Animals and the Human Animal Bond

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person with emotional support dog sharing the human animal bond

Pet owners will be the first to tell you that having a pet is an amazing experience. You get to share your day-to-day with your adorable pooch. But there’s so much more to companion animals than the cuteness factor. Did you know the human animal bond does wonders for your physical and mental health?

Being around animals is especially great for emotional support. Countless vets and health professionals study the positive impact of being around pets. It helps people live with a mental illness and even lowers the risk of some diseases.

How Dogs Became Man’s Best Friend: The History of Human and Animal Interaction

We’ve had dogs as our companion animals for longer than 20.000 years. They went from being wild animals to becoming man’s best friend. Along the way, it’s amazing that not much has changed in our relationship. Pet owners love their furry buddies to death and keep them by their side, just like our ancestors did. If anything, the human animal bond has gotten stronger.

Dogs have always been social creatures. That may be why they adjusted to life with us so easily. Today, you’ll find puppies in a lot of American houses. They’re great for families, particularly for people suffering from conditions such as autism! They’re also the perfect bachelor companions.

A Look at the Science of the Human Animal Bond

Having a pet is something a lot of researchers are studying now. They’re recognizing the role that the human animal bond has in our lives. It’s even becoming clear that this relationship can complement therapy.

No one is 100% sure exactly why we thrive in the company of animals. Some scientists argue it has to do with their cuteness—which our brains associate with small children. Because of that, we feel the need to care for our four-legged friends and feel rewarded as a result. But it’s still all in the air, which is exciting!

human-animal bond between woman and her emotional support cat

Interacting with Animals Improves Physical Health

One thing we’re pretty sure of: a pet betters people’s lives in many ways. For starters, petting your furkid can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. It lowers your chances of getting heart disease in the future. This applies to adults and children alike.

When you cuddle up with Fido or Mittens, your body produces relaxation and happiness hormones. Who would have thought having a pet could improve your health and well-being?

The Massive Impact Animals Have on Our Mental Health

Companion animals also do our mental health good. The human animal bond is complex like that. Don’t you feel more relaxed and soothed when your pet is near you? You’re not the only one. Our bodies produce happy hormones like crazy when we spend time with our furry friends.

Animal People Are Happy People!

We’re not making it up: individuals who have at least one pet are happier than those with none. It doesn’t matter if they have a dog, cat, bird, hamster, or any other animal. All that matters is that the human animal bond makes their life better.

Funnily enough, caring for animal welfare may be one of the reasons why pet owners are so happy. Having to care for a cute, small creature who needs you can be invigorating. Plus, dog owners have to be more social and get fresh air when they take Fido for a walk.

Even children who are around pets are happier! They relate to their peers better and learn invaluable lessons about compassion. Not to mention they get a friend to play with.

3 Ways Animals Support People Emotionally

There are so many ways in which the human-animal bond can help us. It’s not just us saying it. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says it too! Let’s look at some of them:

  1. Pets make it easier to forge new human relationships. Be it because you need to walk Fido or because you bond with other animal lovers, it’s a good way to get you out of the house and socializing.
  2. Therapy animals help those in traumatic situations. Therapy dogs visit hospitals, courtrooms, nursing homes, and other public places. They bring happiness to the community around them. For instance, their visit brightens the day of elderly people with Alzheimer’s disease significantly.
  3. Companion animals offer social support to children with autism. These kids have an easier time relating to their peers when there’s a dog or cat in the classroom.

woman reaching out to horse during equine therapy

Where Do Emotional Support Animals Come In?

You may have heard of emotional support animals before. These companion animals shower their owners with love and affection. Therapists prescribe them to people who have a mental health disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety. This human animal bond is even part of their therapy.

Luckily, the United States government recognizes the health benefits these ESAs bring. Thus, two ironclad federal laws protect them. The first is the Air Carrier Access Act and it lets ESAs fly with their owners for free. The second is the Fair Housing Act which gives ESAs the right to live with their human companion.

Furry Therapy: ESAs Are an Invaluable Part of Treating Mental Illness

Thanks to ESAs, those with a mental illness can live a normal, balanced day-to-day life. That’s why the licensed mental health professional community prescribes ESAs in North America. The human animal relationship is incredibly rewarding and enriching. We all have something to gain as a society from this special bond.

5 Benefits of Getting an Emotional Support Animal

In a nutshell, what are the health benefits of this animal-assisted therapy or owning an ESA?

  1. It improves your physical health. Petting our furry friends lowers blood pressure, reduces stress levels, and produces feel-good hormones. These are just some of the health benefits of the human-animal bond.
  2. It will better your mental health well-being. Living with a mental illness becomes easier.
  3. It improves human relationships. For a variety of reasons, pet owners feel bonding with others is easier. Be it because they have the pet-loving community to turn to or because they feel less stressed, it’s a clear plus.
  4. In children, it aids development. Pet ownership teaches them responsibility, caring about animal welfare, and compassion. This is especially true for children with autism and learning disabilities.
  5. Your ESA will always be by your side—it’s the law. The two federal laws we’ve mentioned give you rights as an ESA owner and a person with a (mental) disability. It’s the biggest reason why having an ESA tops having a pet.

woman with emotional support animal sitting down looking at view

How to Get an ESA: You’ll Need an ESA Letter

Before you can brag about how awesome your relationship is with your ESA, you need an ESA letter. This document proves Fido (or Mittens) isn’t a pet and that they’re involved in the treatment of your mental illness. Only a licensed mental health professional in your state can issue this important document.

For clarity’s sake, no, you can’t buy an ESA. Only therapists can prescribe these animals for a reason. Bypassing this process could land you in hot water. Depending on where you live, you could end up getting a record and having to pay a hefty fine for misrepresenting a pet as an ESA.

CertaPet makes the process of getting an ESA easy. We’ll handle all the paperwork. To get started, you can take our 5-minute pre-screening test for free. We’ll put you in touch with a therapist. From there, it will be smooth sailing.

Common Questions on the Human Animal Bond

Can animals help improve mental health wellbeing?

What is an emotional support animal?

Can I buy an emotional support animal?

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