Dogs are great for providing companionship, comfort, and love to any owner, so they make the perfect pets for people who have emotional or mental health conditions.
Emotional support dogs don’t require specific training but they can assist their owners in various ways.
In addition to providing general companionship and support, an emotional support dog can help sufferers of depression to leave the house each day and provide comfort to people who have anxiety when they ride the bus, for example.
Whether you have social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder, to name just a few conditions, getting an emotional support dog could help you to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
But like any dog owner, you need to look after your support dog in the right ways if she, or he, is to look after you. When you both provide each other with love and care, you can begin a new lease of life together.
Here are the things you need to do to ensure you look after your emotional support dog.
Give Your Dog a Space of Her Own
We all need our own personal space from time to time. As a sufferer of an emotional or mental health condition, you probably know that only too well.
Your dog will need downtime too, so it’s important you give her a space she can call her own. You should provide an emotional support dog with a corner, area, bed, or kennel that is just hers.
Also, you should enforce off-limit areas of your home and welcome your dog into areas of the home where she’s permitted to go.
If you have a garden or a backyard that is fenced off, you should consider providing your dog with access via a doggy door. You could even have a temperature-controlled dog house outside.
Provide Your Dog with a Nutritious Diet
Having a healthy and balanced diet is just as important for your dog as it is for you, so don’t overlook how fundamental a nutritious diet is for your canine pal.
Look for dog food companies that use high-quality ingredients and formulate foods with nutrition in mind. You could get samples to see which foods your dog likes.
With any new food, see how your dog responds over the first few weeks. If there are any signs of problems, such as a drop in her energy levels, a dulling coat, or gastrointestinal issues, you should try a diet change.
Walk Your Dog Daily
For your dog to be healthy and happy, she needs regular exercise. It’s not good enough to go for a brisk walk around the block once a day or let your dog do her business in the garden.
Most dogs need, at the very least, thirty minutes of exercise each day to stay physically and mentally fit. Of course, walking your dog every day will also help you to stay physically fit and feel better mentally.
Make sure you know how often you should walk the breed of dog you choose before you get your emotional support dog.
Play with Your Dog Daily
Your dog’s mental health is just as important as her physical health. In addition to exercise, dogs need time to play in order to remain happy and mentally healthy.
Dogs have insatiable needs for play, and playing with your dog can benefit you too. Also, you can easily combine exercise time with play, such as throwing sticks in the park or playing tug-of-war.
Make sure you play with your dog every day, to help you both stay happy and calm.
Give Toys to Your Dog
There will be times when your dog wants to play when you’re unavailable, so make sure she has plenty of toys.
Dogs need toys for their mental well-being. They also need them for a good chew!
You won’t be able to be with your dog 24/7, so supply your dog with toys that she can entertain herself with and stay occupied.
Perform Physical Check-ups
You should get to know what the typical signs of good health are in dogs before you get your emotional support dog, and then periodically perform checks to ensure your dog doesn’t have any physical health problems.
- Her skin should be smooth, without any scabs, white flakes, growths or red areas, and you should regularly check for fleas, lice, ticks and other parasites.
- Her coat should be glossy and pliable, without bald spots, dandruff, or excess oiliness.
- Her eyes should be bright and shiny, although minimal mucus and watery tears are normal.
- Her ears should be pink-coloured and clean on the inside, with no redness or swelling, and only a small amount of yellow or brownish wax.
- Her nose should be moist and cool and nasal discharges should be clear in colour, not yellowy, bubbly, thick or foul-smelling.
- Her gums should be firm and clean.
- Her teeth shouldn’t be clogged with plaque or tartar.
- Her temperature should be between 38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius.
- Her urine should be yellow in colour and her stools should be firm and brown.
If you find any problems with your dog’s physical health, not limited to the above points, you should take your dog to a vet.
By performing regular check-ups, you can ensure no health problems go unnoticed.
See the Vet Regularly
You should take your dog to your vet at least once a year, even if your dog seems to be fit and healthy. Preventing health issues is better than having to try to cure them.
As your dog gets older, you should take your dog to see the vet more frequently, as she will be more prone to health problems. You will also need to take your dog to the vet for vaccinations. And you should know when to go to a vet in emergency situations.
For instance, if your dog vomits or has diarrhoea for more than twelve hours, you should visit your vet. Other symptoms that mean your dog needs veterinary attention include loss of balance, constipation, persistent scratching of the ears or eyes, difficulty breathing, and shivering.
So, look after your emotional support dog, and she can look after you.