You may have seen dogs out and about wearing vests with text that reads “service animal” or “ESA.” If you’re not familiar with what this means, these are dogs that have been certified to serve as emotional support animals. While these emotional dog support vests are not legally required to signify the animal’s status as an ESA, they’re helpful in indicating to the outside world that these are pets that provide services to their owners that are beyond what one typically expects. Not to be confused with service animals — who perform specific functions for the disabled such as opening doors or guiding the visually impaired — emotional support animals provide essential support for those suffering from mental and emotional disabilities. If you believe this could apply to you, here are a few ways you could benefit from an emotional support dog.

Dogs Are Antidepressants

Dogs and humans share a connection that goes back tens of thousands of years. Through millennia of breeding and companionship, the act of merely looking into a dog’s eyes provides a feeling of comfort and warmth and can actually increase the levels of dopamine in your system, combating depression.

Dogs Can Calm Anxiety

Dogs are particularly adept at helping those who suffer from anxiety at the times they need it most. This is especially valuable for people who have trouble with flying. These days it’s nearly impossible to get by without flying from time to time. Whether you need to see your family or you have to fly for work, a dire fear of flying can severely limit your life. Having an ESA accompany you on your flight gives you a place to focus your attention. The mere act of petting and taking care of your dog has a calming effect and can make flying seem suddenly bearable.

Unconditional Love

If you suffer from debilitating bouts of depression, an ESA can provide much-needed support. Depression can make you feel disconnected from those around you, making it hard to get outside and engage with the world. Dogs, however, are very easy to connect with. They can offer uncritical, unconditional love, giving you confidence and courage when you venture out into environments where you would otherwise feel anxious.

They Can Limit Daily Crises

For those who suffer from emotional and mental disabilities, major events aren’t necessary for attacks of anxiety or depression to occur. Merely living day to day can be a challenge for some people, and having the regular calming presence of a beloved pet can mean the difference between feeling relaxed and losing an entire day to emotional insecurities.

They Increase Mindfulness

Dogs require care and attention. The effort it takes to give a dog the attention it needs helps sufferers of mental disabilities to focus their attention somewhere that’s useful. If you go through bouts of depression or anxiety attacks, tending to the needs of an animal who lives entirely in the moment can free you from concentrating on fears and anxieties so that you never sink to debilitating lows.

If you think you could benefit by having an ESA, contact the National Service Animal Registry. Not only can we register a dog for emotional support, but we can also give you everything you want to certify and outfit your emotional support dog. Call us today at (866) 737-3930.