Much controversy has surrounded the rising popularity of ESAs (emotional support animals) in recent years, but the fact is, many with anxiety disorders, PTSD, clinically diagnosed depression, and other psychological conditions have been “prescribed pets” and these individuals can legally take their ESA pets where others can’t. Caring for these animals is a top priority in maximizing their support. There will be times when your support buddy has to stay behind. Or, for those with physical as well as mental disabilities, there may be a need for help in caring for an ESA dog (or other pet.)
Your ESA dog cares for you, but what kind of care are you giving him or her in return? Here are 3 key ways to ensure your pet continually gets optimal care:
1. Hire quality pet care when you can’t deliver it personally.
Let’s say you had to go to a hospital where dogs are strictly not allowed (even ESAs), you’re about to visit a dear friend who’s severely allergic to dogs, or you’re going to work, shopping, or anywhere else and, in a rare instance at least, you can’t bring your ESA.
Research ahead of time a professional pet sitting company you can trust. Don’t be left scrambling last-minute looking for a pet sitter and end up settling for second-best.
Also, if you aren’t physically able to walk your dog, give it a bath, groom it properly, or optimally care for it in some regard, don’t hesitate to utilize professional pet care services. No need to feel guilty because you didn’t do it personally – getting your pet the care it needs is what matters most.
2. Support your pet’s emotional health, even as it supports yours.
Caring for your dog, and just having him/her around, can boost your mood and help your overall emotional health. But what about your pet’s emotional health?
First of all, be on the lookout for signs Rover may be suffering from depression. Does he eat regular, sleep normally, get enough time out of doors, stay active, and seek attention? Compulsive licking, “droopiness,” and showing the whites of its eyes are additional signs.
Second, make sure your dog gets enough exercise. Even a few minutes of quick play, running, or fetch, can help it relax for hours thereafter. Give it a chance to explore its world on a daily walk, challenge it mentally with “puzzle toys,” and arrange for time spent with other dogs (“doggie dates.)
3. Invest in a high-quality pet insurance policy.
A third area of pet care that’s often neglected is pet insurance. Only 1% of pet owners insure their pet, but ESA owners should surely be among those who do, given how much they rely on their pets.
The high cost of emergency care and a stay at the pet hospital forces many pet owners to choose between their pet’s well being (or life) and emptying their entire savings – or going into debt to save their pet.
Pet insurance protects dogs against most conditions they are ever likely to face in their lifetime, though it doesn’t cover preexisting conditions and hereditary diseases are usually excluded unless you add cover for them as a rider.
These are just three basic ways you can say “thank you” to your ESA dog that does so much for you: arranging for others to care for him when you can’t, watching out for his emotional health, and insuring him against accidents and illnesses.