Mother Nature has been kicking our tails. Harvey alone dumped nearly thirty-three trillion gallons of water on our heads. In fact, weather.com says that this hurricane season is the eighth most active in our entire recorded history. Pile onto that, two major earthquakes in Mexico, and the fires in Northern California that charred the landscape and burned homes and businesses to the ground. All those natural disasters happened within just six-weeks’ time span. It’s like a blink of an eye and life has changed dramatically for so many people.
This is not something that just happens someplace else to other people. This could be you. Even if you were nowhere near a disaster, there’s a ripple effect psychologically. Our sense of security in the nature department has been walloped.
There has been a lot written about saving your pets during a disaster—and those articles such as Disaster Preparedness for Your Furry Family are important. But, care isn’t a one-way street. Dogs can help you, too.
Here are some of the ways pets can help you keep your wits about you in troubled times:
Dogs Reduce Anxiety And Depression In Their Humans
According to Psychology Today studies have shown physiological proof that petting a friendly and familiar dog will cut your stress. The numbers bear out in blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. Even your stress hormones chill out.
Emotional Support Dogs
If you are not feeling mentally up to snuff after a disaster and it qualifies as a disability, you may be entitled to an emotional support dog to help reduce your stress. According to the United States Dog Registry, Emotional support dogs don’t have to be specially trained, they just have to be your buddy. For your dog to qualify, you will need a note from a doctor. One perk is that you can take your emotional support dog on a plane for no extra fees although there are some rules of compliance (like your dog needs to behave). More information is available at the United States Dog Registry, and you can check with your airlines.
Service dogs are specially trained to help their human with their disability. (For instance: seeing-eye dogs, dogs trained to help during panic attacks, and dogs trained to dial 911). You’ll need to go through the proper channels and get your doctor’s note but these dogs are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, so you can take your dog with you in most public places.
Therapy dogs are trained by their humans and taken by them to those who could use a dog-style therapist. These are the dogs you see in hospitals and nursing homes and sometimes helping after a natural disaster.
The American Veterinary Medical Association is working to define what emotional support pets mean to society. One thing to note, dogs that are ill-mannered and unhealthy can cause trouble in public places. Dr. Cherice Roth at Ask.Vet, says to make sure your support pet is up to date on vaccines and deworming because unprotected pets can carry transferrable diseases and parasites. She also recommends seeking behavior classes for comfort and safety of all during public interactions. In other words, if you own a dog that provides emotional support to you or other people, make sure you do your part in ensuring that your pet is up for the job.
If you need help in your emotional recovery journey, consider your four-legged BFF as a helpmate. Remember, in these crazy times, your dog could be good medicine.
- FEMA, “Coping with Disaster”
- American Psychological Association, “Recovering Emotionally from Disaster”
- American Veterinary Medical Association, “Emotional Support Animals”
- Ask.Vet, “Disaster Preparedness for Your Furry Family”
- United States Dog Registry, “Information on Emotional Support Dogs”
- GoodTherapy.org, “Emotional Recovery from a NaturalDisaster”
- The Mercury News, “’Emotional Support Dogs’ on Planes More Scam than Therapy?”
Article By: Wily Wags
I’m Wily Wags, and I’m a dog. I’m also the Dog Health & Wellness Guru and the Chief Bow-wower at www.wilywags.com.