Every dog owner knows the joy of having a dog; they give us companionship, love, and care. Dogs are known as man’s (and woman’s) best friend. However, for people who face emotional and physical challenges, the presence of a dog can be significant to their daily life. Dogs offer support and comfort, helping people living with issues that affect their lives, such as mobility, blindness, deafness, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
I am happy to welcome Cody Oelker from US Service Animals.org as a contributor to this week's blog. He reached out to me with the idea of a guest post on Emotional Support Animals, and together we created the post you see here. We hope you enjoy the read, and if you or someone you know would benefit from an Emotional Support Animal, we encourage you to speak to a mental health provider about having such a companion.
Most of us recognize guide dogs which help blind people and service dogs help those with limited or no mobility. Other types of animals assist people who experience emotional trauma. Those can be dogs, cats, rabbits, even guinea pigs, which are also used as therapy animals, visiting schools, libraries, hospitals and nursing homes.
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) provide emotional support and comfort to their owner in the form of affection and companionship. Although all dogs are emotionally attached to their owner, to be legally considered as an emotional support animal, the animal needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person living with a mental disability. A therapist must examine the person and decide that the presence of an Emotional Support Animal is needed to ease anxiety and help him or her focus on life.
Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal
ESAs help ease anxiety, depression, and certain phobias. These special animals provide many mental and emotional benefits to people living with disabilities. They are intelligent creatures that psychologically impact their owners by offering reassurance and companionship. Other benefits of having an Emotional Support Animal in your home include the following:
If you’re experiencing any form of mental or emotional challenges, then you may want to consider an emotional support animal. These four-legged furry companions offer so many benefits to their owners, including helping reduce stress, anxiety, depression; serving as a faithful companion; and giving the owner a sense of purpose while experiencing unconditional love. Talk with your counselor, therapist, or psychologist to learn more about how to obtain an ESA and the benefits you may experience by having one.
Does your dog’s breath stink? Does your cat’s teeth have a brown coating? These and other signs should trigger you to consider what might be going on with your pet’s dental health.
The majority of dogs and cats will develop dental issues sometime in their lives, oftentimes before the age of three. Periodontal disease affects both canines and felines and starts out as plaque, just like with humans. Not dealt with, plaque can lead to gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Dental health issues can lead to other medical issues. However, also like humans, such conditions can be abated.
Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
Did you know you can brush your dog or cat’s teeth? Again like humans, consistent brushing can ward off dental disease.
Specialty toothbrushes, including finger brushes, and flavored toothpastes are created for pets. You can find these at many pet supply stores or your veterinarian. Don’t use people-oriented brushes or pastes – they can harm your pet.
Gradually introduce brushing to your animal, over the course of several days, even weeks. Cats especially dislike new things, like toothbrushes! Therefore, be patient but persistent – and gentle.
Brush your dog or cat’s teeth a few times a week and brush on the outside only. Praise your pet throughout the endeavor.
Why is Pet Dental Health Important?
A pet’s dental health isn’t just about teeth and gums; periodontal disease can affect your pet’s overall health. Kidney and liver disease can result from bacteria flowing from the mouth through the animal’s bloodstream. Sepsis can set in from blood infections. Your pet’s heart can also be negatively impacted from poor dental health, and in particular in small dogs, bone infections can develop.
With cats, an erosion in the tooth called feline resorptive lesions (FRLs) is fairly common, in both young and old kitties. According to International Cat Care, more than 70% of cats five years and older have at least one FRL. “The cause of FRLs is unknown but cells called odontoclasts (which break down the substance of the tooth) are found in the erosions,” according to the website.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Keep your pet’s mouth and teeth healthy and you’ll also keep him/her healthier overall!
Access a PDF Guide on How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth, from Petfinder.com, here: https://d17fnq9dkz9hgj.cloudfront.net/uploads/2018/08/brushing-your-pets-teeth.pdf
Click here to watch a veterinarian brush an animal's teeth and learn more about why dental health is so important:
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.