Posted on

How Service Dogs Help People with PTSD

According to the American Disabilities Act, or ADA, service animals are those that have been trained to perform certain tasks for a disabled person. These tasks may include physical activity or emotional support. Service dogs are commonly used to help those that are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD. These service dogs have been specifically trained to assist someone that has experienced some form of significant trauma. Here are some of the ways that an ESA dog registration can help someone suffering from PTSD.

Provide Security

There are a variety of incidents that could cause someone to suffer from PTSD. If a patient has been a victim of an assault, this could cause them to fear leaving their home. A service dog can serve as both a companion and as security for that person. The existence of a dog may make them feel protected, should they fear that someone might enter their home or approach them. As a victim of assault, they may also fear leaving their home by themselves. A service dog can serve as a companion so that they will never be alone, potentially causing them less stress or fear that something might happen.

Self-Sufficiency

Those suffering from PTSD may find it more difficult to live independently and completing certain tasks, such as taking medication or sleeping through the night. Those that use a service dog tend to take their medication more regularly. Additionally, they sleep better through the night with the assistance of a companion so they function better the next day. The assistance of a service animal with these daily tasks will allow those suffering from PTSD to function better independently.

Greater Coping Skills

The assistance of a service dog can help someone suffering from PTSD cope better with their situation and receive help from others. Dogs that have been trained to help with PTSD have certain behavioral traits that will be observed by the person. The presence of the dog will also force the person suffering from the condition to focus on the animal, as they will be playful and loving. This focus on something other than what has caused their condition will help them become less anxious and more self-sufficient.

Modulate Stress Level and Tone of Voice

PTSD can cause increased stress levels and a change in the tone of voice, potentially making communicating with others a difficult process. When working with a service dog in the comfort of their own home, they will need to reduce stress and use a certain tone of voice in order for the dog to react to their commands. This will allow them to practice adjusting these attributes so that they will know how to control them when associating with other people.

A Loving Companion

A major impact of PTSD is that the person suffering from the condition may be unhappy due to the feeling of isolation, stress, and uneasiness around others. In addition to providing a feeling of security and confidence, a service dog is a loving companion. This will allow the person suffering from PTSD to feel less isolated and happier in their daily life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder can be caused by a variety of factors and be very difficult to overcome. The assistance of a service animal with psychiatric service dog registration will allow that person to be more independent and happier in their daily life. Contact the National Service Animal Registry if you’re looking for a service animal to help with PTSD.

Posted on

Train an Emotional Support Dog to Calm Anxiety

Emotional support animals (ESAs)  are known as dependable companions for individuals with emotional or mental disorders. In contrast to service dogs, emotional support dogs don’t need special training and provide physical assistance to disabled people. However, it doesn’t mean that emotional support dogs will be untrained or behave badly. There is no federal law that requires an emotional support dog to receive specific training before registration, a well-behaved and well-trained Emotional Support dog is simply recognized by others, particularly when you travel with it in an aircraft cabin or are looking for new accommodation. If you’re planning to adopt or purchase a dog for emotional support, or if you intend to train your pet dog, you will follow the guidelines below before you start the training.

What Is an Emotional Support dog?

Emotional support dogs are quite different from service dogs when the thing comes to purpose. Instead of helping in physical activities, Emotional Support Animals dogs provide emotional support to their owners. A dog does not have to undergo any special training just to become an Emotional Support dog. However, the dog should be well-behaved and respond better to his handler. With this, it is essential to consider the traits of dogs to ensure that he can perform the job well. Generally, you will need a dog with a laid-back and mellow nature.

Some of your perfect choices include:

  • Border Collie
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Poodle
  • Bulldog
  • Bullmastiff

Now, this does not mean that you cannot get breeds that are not as subdued. You can get a high-spirited dog or one that is full of energy if you need it. There will not be any issue with that as long as you are willing to spend time and effort in training them to behave. Speaking of training, here is what you want to know.

Qualities of Emotional Support Dogs

The features of a puppy depend almost completely on its parents and breed. Few dogs were born aggressive, over-excited or timid, but it doesn’t mean that these imperfect personalities can never become an emotional support dog if they received the training to do so. An about 1-year-old with a calm and responsible personality can start training. It’s also perfect to look for breeds that are more human orientated and eager to learn like Poodles and Golden Retrievers.

Basic Obedience Training

After selecting a dog, you will start the course with obedience training, involving Heel, Sit, Stop, Down, and Come, etc. The sooner you start with these lessons, the easy it will be to train your emotional support dog. Apart from obedience training, going outside to socialize will also be trained to prevent anti-social behavior like begging, barking, lunging or jumping for food.

Emotional Support Dog Training

Various of the people who need an emotional support dog frequently suffer from autism, anxiety, and are susceptible to self-harming behavior for many reasons. Several studies suggest that the presence of a dog aids to calm these patients and reduce the possibility of recurring stressful attacks. In these cases, properly trained, emotional support dogs apply suitable pressure on the body of owners, chest or other body parts depending on the size of the dog. For instance, a little Papillion will lie directly on the chest of owners, but a tall Alaskan Malamute has to place its feet or head across the lap or legs of owners. This method is particularly appropriate for people who suffer from airsickness. Here’s how to teach your dog this skill.

Step 1: Paws Up Command (On The Sofa)

If your dog has to get used to sitting on the sofa, you can need to tempt it with a few tasty treats. The first step is to show your dog the treats, whilst at the same time slow-moving to the sofa and giving the Paws up command. Give it the treat when you’re near the sofa.

Step 2: Repeat The Exercise

The result of the exercise depends on whether your dog is willing to join you on the sofa, so you can need to practice it patiently, particularly with an adult dog. If you’re a little dog, the main goal is to have all 4 paws on the sofa. Whilst it’s like a big breed to place only the front paws or head on the sofa. Repeat this exercise with treats unless it comprehends what this command generally means.

Step 3: Paws Off Command

The next step is to train emotional support dog to take paws away in the paws off command. This procedure wants to reverse the paws up exercise and wants to take your dog off the sofa with the paws off command.

Step 4: Keep Emotional Support Dog On the Sofa

To calm your anxiety, your dog will apply physical pressure to you. In the case of a little dog, it’s perfect to call it to hug you while it’s lying vertically beside your body, with its paws on your shoulder and its head near yours. While a big dog will put its paws on your legs or lap and keep its head down when you’re in a sitting position. After you will say paws up, followed by the command as soon as it sits next to you. Provide the dog a treat after finishing this task and order it to place its paws down. After some time, try to command your emotional support dog without offering it treats to understand that this is a task instead of a reward game.

Conclusion

Having a dog around can relieve your stress. However, if you’re dealing with significant emotional or psychological impairments, an emotional support dog can be an amazing therapeutic treatment. Click here to find out more about qualifying.

Posted on

Training Your Service Dog for Anxiety: Steps to Follow

Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Millions of people suffer from severe anxiety every year. Thankfully, we’ve recently discovered that trained service dogs can provide a lot of comfort and relief for those who experience regular anxiety or panic attacks. If you believe that you can benefit from having an emotional support dog to help ease your anxiety, you’ve come to the right place! Below is a brief step-by-step guide to help you choose and train your emotional support dog and receive a registered emotional support dog letter.

#1 Choosing the Right Dog for You

You may be a lover of all dog breeds, but there are particular breeds out there that are better fit for comfort and support. It’ll all come down to a dog’s temperament, which is basically a combination of his personality, instinctual behavior, and natural ability to follow instructions. This means that you may want to avoid breeds that are more aggressive or hyper. Experts recommend looking for dogs that are social, alert, focused, and don’t become easily startled. When you meet a new puppy, you’ll most likely know right away if it’s the right service dog for you!

#2 Begin the Bonding Process

It’s important for you and your dog to get to know each other while he’s still a youthful pup! He needs to understand your behavior and personality just as much as you need to understand his. When you start to bond, you can begin to lay the groundwork for his job, which is to detect your rising anxiety levels. The more time you spend together, the more he’ll start to understand this and be able to detect the difference between your relaxed state and your anxious state.

#3 Begin Basic Training

Remember that your service dog will be able to accompany you in public places, so it’s incredibly important for him to be properly trained. He should be able to follow basic commands such as sit, stay, lay down, heel, and come. It’s common for this to be a bit difficult for dog owners, especially if they’ve never trained a dog before. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional dog trainer to help guide you through the basic training process.

#4 Begin Anxiety Response Training

Once you and your dog have had time to bond and perfect basic commands, you can start to target his response to your anxiety. You can do this in a number of different ways, such as cuddling him when anxiety hits or giving him a treat when you feel anxious. He’ll naturally start to pick up on the change in your energy and begin to understand that he should remain close when you’re experiencing anxiety.

#5 Register Your Service Dog

Once you feel your dog is prepared to be an official emotional support dog or service dog, then it’s time to get him registered! Our website has all the information you need to properly register your dog and receive your emotional support dog letter. We also provide therapist referrals, information on housing rights, and even emotional support products for your pup!

Posted on

Choosing the Right Food for Your Emotional Support Dog

The importance of a good diet really can’t be stressed enough. The absolute best way to maintain excellent health for your furry friend is to provide an excellent diet of high quality food. But choosing the best food for your emotional support dog can feel like an overwhelming proposition, especially with so much marketing out there urging you towards one brand or another.

So how do you choose the right food for your pup?

Diet can be tricky. There are a lot of factors to consider and a ton of junk to wade through. It can be tempting to just give Fido the cheapest kibble on the shelf and call it good. But if you want to ensure your wagging bestie has the highest quality of life—and protect yourself from crazy medical expenses down the line—it’s well worth making the effort to figure out the healthiest diet.

Here’s a list that can serve as a gentle guide as you consider the options. First thing’s first is to know your dog, know yourself and have a basic understanding of what the options even are.

What’s Right For Your Emotional Support Dog?

First, consider the dog in question: age, sex and breed may all make a difference in which diet will be best for your particular hound. Is your dog breeding? A female who is pregnant or lactating will likely have special nutritional needs for example. Likewise, a puppy has different nutritional needs than an adult dog, just as a senior dog has different needs again.

For instance, greyhounds are a breed that is particularly susceptible to bloat—a dangerous condition that is exacerbated by dry food. Therefore, a wet diet is in order for this beautiful dog. Allergies are another thing again. If your emotional support dog has allergies, you’ll want to adjust the diet to fit your particular pooch.

Here’s a quick list of some general considerations. For specifics, it is always helpful to ask your vet for suggestions and guidance. Even better, talk to a dog nutritionist who is specifically trained in canine diet.

Puppies

Puppies are eating machines and are usually fed more food and more frequently than an adult dog. There’s good reason for this: puppies are growing and thus need a more calorie dense diet. They have a need for more fat, more vitamins and more minerals. Puppies also need ample amounts of omega 3 fatty acids to support brain and eye development. They basically just need MORE, since all their organs and body systems are ravenous, eager to strengthen and grow. It’s important when choosing a food to be sure you’re choosing a diet specific to their age, since a kibble designed for an adult won’t provide the same range of nutrients that is required for a wee one.

Senior emotional support dogs

When it comes to senior emotional support dogs, you have to consider an entirely opposite range of issues. Unlike the growing puppy who needs ample food, a senior dog has a metabolism that has significantly slowed down. Therefore, they need less fat and less calories.

An old dog has a weakening immune system and may have arthritis. There are diets designed specifically for supporting these ailments. For example, a dog with heart problems will likely be given a reduced sodium diet. A dog with kidney disease will need proteins that are easily digestible. Antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids are always a good idea for the senior dog, since they will help keep the immune system strong.

Allergies

Allergies are very specific to the individual dog. If you have a emotional support dog that suffers from gut or skin and fur issues, there’s a good chance he has allergies. But just what food is causing the negative response?

There are diets designed specifically for discovering the culprit of his allergies. Basically, it works by feeding your emotional support dog only a single protein and NO fillers for two weeks. Then you switch it up, to another single protein, all while watching your dog’s energy levels, skin issues and stool. One dog may need a diet wholly based on white fish, for instance, while another is much better with chicken. Science diet is a brand of kibble designed to assist in this process.

What’s Right For You?

In addition to considering your emotional support dog’s personal needs, you’ll also want to consider your own needs. For instance, what is in your budget? And what’s convenient? You may want to feed your emotional support dog a raw food diet, but it’s either too expensive to pay out of pocket or too inconvenient to prepare the meals yourself. Perhaps you could strike a balance between a raw and kibble diet, something that both satisfies your desire to provide good nutrition for your furry one, and won’t lead resentment for the time, money and effort put into it.

A good rule of thumb is to consider your budget first. What is the most you can afford to invest in your emotional support dog’s diet? Then, choose three brands of food within your range to experiment with. Try each one for about 3 weeks, all the while watching your dog’s energy levels, stool and over all well being. You’ll have some good information to make an educated choice by the end of your food experiment.

How to Choose a Brand You Can Trust

With a huge plethora of brands spanning our wonderful capitalist market, picking one that is ethical, safe and healthy can be a chore. There are plenty of junk food pet brands that lead to pet obesity. In fact, dog obesity is a leading cause of dog death, since it leads to diabetes and all kinds of other health complications.

You will definitely want to steer clear of the brands that cut corners and do not have the health of your emotional support dog in mind.

You can narrow down your research by consulting your vet or your local pet store. They will be a wealth of information, helping you to choose the brand that is both the healthiest and in line with your budget.

Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when perusing the well stocked pet food aisle:

What’s the first ingredient?

Generally, pay attention to the first ingredient listed—is it a grain? Or an animal? The first ingredient listed makes up the highest content in the food. The second ingredient makes up the second highest content, and so on. The first ingredient should be a meat like chicken, lamb or fish and should account for over 25% of the total ingredients. 50% or more is even better.

Steer away from high carb brands—dogs have a hard time digesting a ton of gluten. This means if the first ingredient is a grain, move down the line. Dogs are designed to eat carcasses, not bread.

The more animal protein the better. A good brand will be specific in the ingredients, and may even give percentages of each, which is fantastic (i.e. 45% salmon, 25% herring, etc). A sketchy brand will be very vague and list ingredients like, “meat, vitamins, additives, oils, flavors, etc”. Umm, gross.

You do not want to leave it up to guess work what is going into your emotional support dog’s belly.

The more protein the dog food has, the more efficiently your emotional support dog will be able to digest it. Your dog’s body has no use for filler. Filler can include things like corn bran, rice bran, nut hulls, oat hulls, feathers and even straw. It literally leads to not only more dog poop, but smellier dog poop, as well as more gas, since your emotional support dog’s body has to discard all the useless crap (pun intended) that it just ate. A cleaner yard and a break for your nose is a good reason in itself to upgrade your emotional support dog’s diet.

What Do the Labels Signify?

Here’s a quick intro to what you can expect from economy, regular and premium dog foods.

Economy

Basic dog foods are the junk food of the pet market. Their primary ingredient is made up of fillers like corn, wheat and ground up byproducts. There is very little regulation in the safety of pet foods, so frequently the grains used in these pet foods have been condemned for human consumption and sloughed off onto the animals we call friends. The toxicity can include hazardously high amounts of pesticides in the grains and 4D labeled meat. 4D meat stands for: dead, dying, diseased or disabled. Not the highest quality.

Dogs do have amazing stomachs, however, and are designed to consume rotting flesh, so it’s probably they can handle some amount of the dead, dying and diseased without adverse effects. Still, it’s a bit questionable how much healthy protein they’re getting from unhealthy animals.

Regular

A step up from economy, regular dog foods source their main protein from meat (as opposed to a grain). However, protein may not be the primary ingredient. This label still contains additives, but has a higher digestibility rating than economy class foods.

Premium

Premium brand dog foods have a meat protein as the primary ingredient. The meat may still come from iffy byproducts, but at least your emotional support dog is getting a high meat diet.

Super-Premium

Currently the highest official standard of dog food, super-premium brands have NO filler (including no ground meat byproducts or corn). These dog foods are by far the healthiest, as they are made from fresh, quality, whole meat.

Holistic

A subcategory of Super-premium, Holistic dog foods contains whole vegetables and fruits in addition to whole meat (such as sweet potato, pumpkin and berries).

Ingredients to Watch Out For

It’s also a good idea to have a general understanding of which ingredients to avoid and which ones might sound funny, but are actually really good!

Good Ingredients

Fish oil, animal fat (usually chicken) and liver are excellent. Vitamin E oil is a preservative used by high quality commercial food and A-OK for the pooch. Other helpful additives include rosemary extract, vitamin C and tocopherols.

Bad Ingredients

Corn and it’s derivative (corn meal, maize gluten, CGM). Corn is particularly damaging if it is in the first 3 ingredients (since that means there is far too much of it) but lesser amounts may be ok depending on the dog. Corn is fattening and leads to all kinds of health problems, including allergy development. Best to keep the corn out all together if you can help it.

Wheat is another grain dogs really don’t have much use for. It is high in gluten, which canine bodies aren’t built to digest.

Peas are ok in small quantities, but can cause painful flatulence if the percentage is too high.

There’s no need for artificial dyes or flavorings, so steer away from these mysterious chemicals.

Also, be aware of the preservatives used. These three ingredients are TOXIC: butylhydroxyanisole, butylhydroxytoluene and ethoxyquin.

While these preservatives have been outlawed for human consumption because they have been shown to cause cancer and immune system disorders, they still have not been banned from dog foods. Any pet food that uses one of these preservatives does not have your emotional support dog’s health in mind (and who wants to support unethical companies anyway?)

And of course, while reading the list of ingredients, you’ll want to pay attention to any allergies specific to your emotional support dog.

What About Raw, Wet and Dry Food Options?

Raw:

Raw food is a great option if you are up for it. It is the closest to a dog’s natural diet and provides a high degree of bio available nutrition including live enzymes. A raw food diet will be naturally low in carbs and lead to better gut and dental health.

You don’t need to worry about dangerous pathogens of raw meat, because dogs have strong bellies designed for digesting. Any harmful pathogens will pass right through a dog’s digestive tract.

One of the perks of the raw diet is that your emotional support dog’s poop will be less smelly than with conventional foods. This is because this diet is so efficient that the dog’s body will utilize every bit of food going in, leaving only powdered bone (and some other stuff!) to come out the other end. Actually, their poop should also become harder on a raw diet, which is a good thing as it maintains healthy anal glands. A dog’s anal glands should release every time they poop, but because kibble tends to make stool soft, the glands don’t release and then they get blocked. This can lead to the “scooting” that some dogs do.

The bone in a raw food diet also acts as a tooth cleaner and as a fiber—yay!

The main challenge with a raw food diet is being sure to keep it balanced. If you’re game, this can be a really fun, educational, “homestead in your own kitchen” activity. Or, if that’s not your thing, it can be a terrible chore. Luckily, because there are so many great raw food pet brands coming out, you don’t have to put quite so much sweat and effort into providing a raw diet for your emotional support dog!

Freeze dried: Freeze dried food is often a part of the raw food diet. It is raw food that has had the moisture evaporated, making it stable and transportable, while retaining the nutritional density of straight raw meat. Just rehydrate (or feed as is!).

Canned: Wet food is the next best option to raw food. It contains more meat protein than kibble, less carbs, and because of the airtight packaging, no preservatives. It has twice as much fat and protein and is less processed. It is more hydrating and has more nutrients. However, it is less convenient and definitely messier than kibble. It must be refrigerated and used within a few days of opening.

Kibble: It can be hard to believe that kibble has only been around for a few decades in the current world of kibble craze. It is assumed that kibble offers the best, most balanced diet for our pets, since it is essentially like taking a vitamin. The problem is that the vitamin lacks food.

With frequent kibble recalls due to salmonilla or chemical contaminants, kibble is not even safer than other options. Dogs definitely take less personal enjoyment out of their dry, super processed meals and the high carb content leads to poor teeth and gum health.

On the other hand, kibble is no doubt the most convenient way to feed your emotional support dog. In the very least, use a high grade kibble and mix up the meat content: give them chicken one week and lamb the next. Variety improves nutrition intake.

Conclusion

It’s not so hard to feed your emotional support dog a high protein and high nutrition diet. You could have fun fashioning a combination diet of raw, wet and dry foods! Or get guidance from your vet. Just be aware of the definite ingredients you want to steer away from, and then observe the vibrancy of your pup. If they are energetic and happy, you’re doing something right!

Posted on

Summer is Coming! Protect your Service Dog & ESA

At last, summer is on its way! Dog lovers everywhere will be enjoying the outdoors making the most of long sunny days. You’ll be walking in the park, cranking down the car windows to feel the wind rush in, enjoying a lazy drink on the deck with your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal curled up at your feet.

Taking care of your service dog in the summer, however, can sometimes be a challenge. As temperatures start to rise, our canine friends can find the heat, sun, and humidity hard to cope with. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from dehydration, skin problems, and even heat stroke.

People with Service Dogs and ESA’s need to take extra special care as our canine partners often work long hours, are constantly alert, and do complex activities all day long. We know how cranky we can get when it’s hot – and we’re not wearing a fur coat!

While summer is a great opportunity to get outside, exercise and enjoy the world, we also need to be aware of the risks. How can we take care of our Service Dogs when the temperatures soar?

How Dogs Keep Cool Naturally

First, it’s important to understand how dogs normally keep cool. Humans produce sweat to regulate their body temperature. Did you know dogs produce sweat only from their paws? The main ways dogs keep cool are by panting, direct contact with a cool surface, and drinking water.

Dogs are naturally pretty good at taking care of themselves. Their fur coat keeps them warm in the winter but it’s also a very good natural sunscreen, stops their skin from drying out and helps keeps their body temperature down. When the temperatures begin to rise, you might need to lend a helping hand to keep our canine friends cool.

What are the dangers of too much sun for our Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals?

Skin Problems

No one likes the idea of walking around in the hot sun with a fur coat on. Our instinct might be to cut or even shave our dog’s coat to help them keep cool. Remember though, your dog’s fur protects them from the sun and stops their skin from drying out, so keep them clipped but don’t go too close to the skin. Just like humans, dogs can get skin cancer, so keep an eye on exposed areas such as their noses and the tips of their ears – and use a good vet-approved pet sunscreen for extra protection. Dogs with short, light-colored fur are especially prone to sunburn.

If your Service Dog or ESA has shaggy fur on their paws, keep this a little longer than the rest of their coat as it will protect their paws from the sun. Keep their coat clean and well brushed.

Dehydration and Breathing

You may notice when a dog is really hot their tongue swells, increasing its surface area and helping them to cool down faster, as it pants. If the panting starts to sound labored or they start to gag, it’s time to get your dog into the shade and give them water and a rest so they can recover. If you have any doubts, seek the advice of a vet as soon as possible.

By the way, although it sounds like an old wives’ tale, it really is true that dog’s noses should be wet. A dry nose could be a sign of dehydration.

Paw Care

Although nature has equipped your Service Dog and Emotional Support Animal with pads on their paws that act as natural shoes, when temperatures really start to rise, be aware how hot the surface is and remember some surfaces are hotter than others.

Be careful of any black surfaces, but particularly asphalt as it radiates heat and can actually burn your dog’s paws if it’s been exposed to hot sunlight for any length of time. A hot surface will also lead to a rise in your dog’s body temperature and might make them overheat.

It might seem a bit wacky, but the easiest way to test if the ground is too hot for your dog to walk on is to feel it with your hands or, better still, your bare feet. If it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for them. On particularly hot days, allow your dog to walk on the grass as much as possible.

Check your dog’s paws regularly for signs of blistering and splitting. Walking on hot surfaces can cause dryness so if you notice this is a problem it’s a good idea to invest in some veterinary-approved wax that will protect the paw pads in both winter and summer. Boots are also available and can help protect your dog’s paws from strong heat but remember your dog sweats from their paws so make sure they are ventilated, or they may get a bacterial infection. In addition, if air can’t circulate, this will make your dog hotter. Remember, if your dog has shaggy fur on their paws, this is nature’s way of providing insulation, so don’t cut it too short.

Tiredness

We all get a little cranky in the heat, especially if we have to work, and it’s no different for your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal. On hot days allow them a little grace. It might take them longer to do the things your dog normally does, and they might need more rest.

Heat Stroke

In severe cases, dogs can suffer from heat stroke, just like humans, and this can be extremely dangerous. Heat stroke occurs when the body has a rapid and uncontrollable rise in temperature, which can be caused by dehydration and heat exhaustion from over-exertion, and not taking in enough water before and during exercise. A dog’s normal body temperature is 100-103. This can rise to 107 with heat stroke which can be life-threatening.

Some breeds are more prone to heat stroke than others, such as dogs with short nasal passages like bulldogs and pugs; particularly those that suffer from Brachycephalic Syndrome. Dogs with heart, lung and respiratory conditions such as Laryngeal Paralysis, and dogs that are overweight will also suffer more. Older dogs and smaller dogs are also more prone to sunstroke as they are less resilient.

How to Spot Signs of Distress in Our Service Dogs and ESA’s

The most common symptoms of heat stroke to be aware of are excessive panting and drooling as dogs produce extra saliva when they need to cool down quickly. They may also vomit and /or have diarrhea. Your dog might lie down frequently and unexpectedly if they need a break. It might be unusually clumsy, stumble or even have a seizure. They might have a racing heartbeat. Watch out for these symptoms and take them into the shade for a rest and a drink. If they collapse, seek help from a vet immediately.

What to do if you think your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal has heat stroke:

  • Act quickly
  • Move them to a cool area
  • Try to stop them from lying down. Keeping them moving will allow the cooler blood that is at the surface of their body to circulate which will help their body temperature drop
  • Soak towels in water or use whatever material you might have to hand and lay this on their coat, as direct skin exposure to water will also help them transfer the heat from their body
  • Give your dog small drinks of water at room-temperature. However tempting it is, don’t give them iced water as a sudden intake of cold water can cause distress to their heart
  • Allow them time to rest and recover
  • If in doubt, see a veterinarian as soon as possible

How to Help your Service Dog or ESA Keep Cool

So when the temperatures really ramp up, what can we do to keep our Service Dogs and ESA’s cool and prevent heat stroke?

Provide Shade

Dogs are very good at seeking out shade, so while we’re used to our Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal walking down the middle of a path, be aware that they might be more comfortable seeking out the shadows. Make sure there is shade for them both when you are at home and when you’re out and about.

Never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day. Temperatures can soar very quickly to dangerous levels. If you leave them at home, think about drawing the curtains so they can escape from the sun streaming through the windows.

Air Conditioning

While you might be tempted to escape the heat and hunker down in the aircon, don’t rely on this too much too soon. As soon as the days start getting warmer, begin to acclimate your Service Dog by taking it outside each day. This provides the opportunity to get used to the increase in temperature. When you’re going out by car, try to lower the windows rather than using air-conditioning, so your dog has time to get used to the temperature during the journey.

Cool Gadgets

There are many useful products available to help keep your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal cool. Make sure their vest is made from a material that transfers heat, such as mesh or nylon. National Service Animal Registry offers very lightweight service vests. Some vests come with cooling pockets or pockets where you can fit gel-packs. Otherwise, get a vest that you can soak in water as this will allow them to keep cool down for longer. There are also a variety of bandanas, cool beds and cool collars available.

Never leave the house without a supply of water and invest in a foldable bowl or a water bottle that doubles as a bowl. When it gets hot, think about treating your Service Dog to a kid’s pool so they can enjoy cooling off in the tub. If you live near the beach, lake or river, be aware that although dogs instinctively know how to swim, they are not necessarily strong swimmers. Be careful of currents and keep your eye on them when they are in the water.

Water

Dogs drink more water for their weight than humans, and this is a key method they use to cool down. Make sure the water you give them is room temperature rather than iced as very cold water can cause stress for your dog’s heart. It’s okay to give them an ice-cube as a treat, though, as this will melt and warm up before they ingest it. You might also want to fill a Kong with wet food and freeze it to make the perfect doggie-popsicle.

Protect Against Parasites

In hot weather, parasites multiply faster, and if your Emotional Support Animal is spending more time outdoors, especially in grass or undergrowth, they might be more likely to pick up something nasty. Make sure they are protected against common parasites such as Heartworm, Lyme Disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Ask your vet if you’re not sure.

What to Do in Severe Heat with Your Service Dog or ESA

When it gets very hot outside, over 90 degrees or when the National Weather Service has issued a warning, keep your dog inside, and make sure there is plenty of shade in the house for him or her to enjoy. Manage your schedule so you avoid going out in the hottest part of the day and make time to exercise them when the sun is low. Make sure there is always plenty of water for them to drink.

Final Thoughts

We depend so much on our Service Dogs and ESA’s. They keep us safe, provide us with companionship, and do many tasks that we find difficult. As your partner, you know your dog best. What are their needs? Do they have a thick dark coat that traps the heat so needs a pool to splash in or regular sprinkler-time? Are they getting a little older, or do they have any medical conditions that mean he’s more prone to heat stroke? Do you need to invest in a new cool-vest, or some pet-sunscreen to protect any exposed skin?

The summer is a perfect opportunity to get out and about with your Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal and really enjoy the outdoors together. Bear these safety tips in mind and get prepared so you can make the most of the long sunny days with your canine partner.

Posted on

The Many Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are pets (usually dogs and cats) who provide vital assistance to people suffering from a mental illness. While it’s become increasingly acceptable in recent years to talk openly about the struggles of living with a mental illness, not everyone who could qualify for an ESA is taking advantage of the life-changing difference living with an ESA can make. To qualify for an ESA, pet owners need to have a letter from a mental health professional verifying that they’re living with a disability, so there is a process you have to go through in order to have your pet registered as an emotional support animal. Tags can denote your pet’s status, and there are certification costs, but the benefits associated with ESAs far outweigh the cost and effort.

Reducing Stress

One of the principal benefits from living with an ESA is the impact they have on lowering stress levels. If you suffer from anxiety, having your pet present with you in public spaces will diminish the feelings of alienation you may feel. Time spent with your pet releases endorphins which make it easier for you to cope with anxiety, and the mere act of petting your ESA produces a calming feeling that helps you deal with stressful situations.

Increasing Socialization

Dogs are perfect ice breakers. If you feel nervous around strangers and crowds, your ESA will make it easier to engage in conversations in a positive way. Having a pet you can take anywhere encourages you to get out more and go for long walks where you can expect to meet and interact with other people and their pets. This offers the positive reinforcement from meeting and talking to people you might not get without an ESA.

Greater Responsibility Brings Fulfillment

When you’re taking care of a pet, you transfer your attention from yourself to another living being. If you’re afraid of flying for instance, it can be tremendously helpful to comfort your pet and give them the kind of support that someone might give you. Feeding and caring for your ESA helps divert your thoughts away from things that might be troubling you and offers a sense of satisfaction from knowing the love you give your ESA is returned to you tenfold.

Keeping You in the Present

If you tend to dwell on your own insecurities and problems that upset you, ESAs force you concentrate on the moment at hand. Dogs and cats don’t fixate on issues affecting them in the past or future; they’re always present in the now. This is one of the most instructive things about pets. When you’re with them, petting them and talking to them, you’re as present in the moment as they are and less likely to focus on negative thoughts and fears.

If you would like to take advantage of the benefits offered by emotional support animals, contact the National Service Animal Registry. We’ve been providing people with emotional support animal certification since 1995. To certify your ESA, visit our certification page or give us a call at (866) 737-3930. Get your pet registered today!

Posted on

Help Your Service Dog Live Longer

When you have a service or emotional support animal in your life you know a bond that many other emotional support animal owners may only dream of. The service dog is there to comfort you and often times are in tune with your emotions and physical status. These service dogs are trained from puppyhood to be there just for someone like you. They often will protect you from danger and be the ultimate shoulder to cry on when it feels like the world around you is coming apart just a little more than normal. So, it’s no surprise that you’d want your service animal to be healthy if possible.

Getting Started

As with anything, keeping your service dog alive for longer is going to require a bit of research on your end. For starters, just what breed is your service dog? Each different breed of service dog requires different needs to reach their peak health daily. Just like humans, service dogs have their own individual needs that change based on a bunch of surrounding factors in their life. By learning the breed of your service dog, we can begin to pinpoint a starting point for their particular needs, and we can get a better grasp on what health conditions may be most likely to pop up in their lifetime.

We also are going to want to figure in the age of the service dog, as well as their current daily activity levels. Each service dog has a different personality, even within its own breed standards. To figure this out it will take less breed research and more of paying attention to your service dog’s individual habits. Try to record the amount of time your service dog is up and moving around compared to how much they are laying around or sleeping. Also, be sure to get their current weight, as well as write down how much food they seem to eat during the day.

Lastly, make note of what you do with your service dog. How much do you guys go out or do you give your service dog frequently treats throughout the week? By taking about a week or two to fully record your routine with your service dog and their habits, we will have a clear picture to start with. During this also consult your vet to see if the patterns you have noticed seem to line up with your service dog’s needs. Your vet can give you the best idea of what your emotional support animal may be lacking or needing to cut back on.

Keeping Them Nutritionally Sound

The diet of each service dog is going to vary greatly from individual to individual. Still, there are quite a few tips we can offer you to help you extend the life of your service dog through base nutritional knowledge. We will also be able to properly tell you some things you may not know about your canine companions’ dietary needs, such as the fact that service dogs are not full-on carnivores like many people believe. We can also give you a pretty good idea of just why table food is such a bad idea for any emotional support animal, especially a service dog.

First things first, dogs are not full carnivores. In fact, you may be surprised to know their mortal enemy the cat is actually more of a carnivore than a dog could ever hope to be. This is because over time a dog’s intestinal tract has grown longer to be able to better digest things like grains or vegetables depending on what food was available to them. This was most likely due to dogs adjusting to being domesticated creatures over such a long period of times. Thanks to their domestication their bodies have changed some of their nutritional needs from that of their wild counterparts to better help them survive in a human filled environment.

This means that while your service dog could use some vitamins from a few veggies mixed in with their food, they are not able to be vegetarian. If your service dog’s food doesn’t mostly seem to be meat, then you are going to want to change their brand. In order to check this pay attention to the first three ingredients on the back of your bag of service dog food. If they aren’t meat related, then you may just be better off with going to a more expensive brand that offers a more protein driven ingredient list. Many brands have come out in recent years to support better emotional support animal health. Of these brands, a lot of them are now even affordable for lower-income families due to their large market success.

Dietary requirements will also change depending on your service dog’s stage in life. This is because much like us, dogs will have changing nutritional needs throughout different parts of their life. Older service dogs may need more calcium in their food if their bones have begun to weaken. Likewise, when a service dog is younger you may need to give them a food containing higher calories to support healthy growth. Some breeds may even have special mixes available to them if they have strange requirements, and you can get yourself to an emotional support animal specialty store.

Hydration is really the last thing you’re going to need to worry about in the nutrition department. You should always have water available for your service dog and frequently take hydration breaks when on the go. While your dog may not seem like it, they can work up quite a thirst throughout the day. Since service dogs are also more patient creatures, they may not always let you know how thirsty they are unless they are desperate. Simply keep access to a clean source of water available for your service dog as much as possible to meet this need.

Activity is Key

While you may have nutritional needs down, this next part of service dog health lessons will require a lot more effort from you. To truly make sure your service dog is staying as fit as possible, they are going to need a lot of activity in their lives. Even for low energy breeds your going to find that a daily outing may just be needed to properly keep your service dog at a healthy weight and keep their muscles from growing weak over time. In truth, a service dog that just lays around all day is likely to develop a lot of physical, as well as, a lot of mental problems like depression. These can be detrimental to the long-term health of your emotional support animal.

This is where knowing the breed of your service dog is going to be a huge part of figuring things out. If we have a breed to start with then we can tell if they were originally bred to be a working-class service dog or not. Working class breeds need a lot of time to run around each day in order to properly balance their high metabolism and keep a healthy weight. This is because these breeds were originally bred to work all day doing thing such as corralling sheep. Some service dogs may even develop problems resting well if not properly exercised due to their high amounts of unspent exercise throughout the day.

One good way to keep your service dog active is to cycle in new toys. By introducing new toys to the environment, you can keep their interest peaked you encourage play. The more your service dog is encouraged to play inside, the more you can take a break from extra-long walks. If possible, you should consider getting a playmate for your service dog. Another dog can promote play in a way we could never hope to with our dogs. If another dog isn’t possible, then trips to the local dog park can make a great bi-weekly workout for your pet!

Lastly, make sure your dog is going out for at least 30 minutes each day or what their breed requires. If you don’t take your dog out for proper exercise each day, then health problems can quickly rise in the future. Sedentary lifestyles are not good for most any creature on earth including your dog. On the other hand, if you must take your dog out more a lot, be sure to allocate the proper time to rest each day.

Keeping The Veterinarian Happy

While keeping your veterinarian happy can seem like quite the daunting task, fear not! The truth is that a lot of people skip out on a lot of the health needs of their pets or may even put them off for longer without realizing the dangers it can pose to their dog’s health needs. While we can’t speak for any special cases of dog health, there are a few things that you can do to extend the life of your pet while making your veterinarian proud as well.

Keeping your service dog on a schedule may be a little troublesome. However, when it comes to properly getting your dog checked up, having a good schedule is a huge help to stop these health problems early on. If you can keep a good relationship with your vet and take your dog in regularly for check-ups, then it can end up making most health problems go away in their earlier stages. The vet can catch the signs of things that may be affecting your dog’s health with a regular check-up, and by just doing things like simple diet changes they can prevent bigger problems that would come up later on.

Another great way to keep your vet smiling is with flea, tick, and heartworm medicine. Always make sure your dog is up to date on their worm medicine no matter the time of year. The worms don’t just go away with cold weather, and are easily catchable during all times of the year. While this may be rarer for pests such as fleas. If you notice the weather starting to warm, be sure to immediately start your flea treatments if you have decided to forgo them in colder months. Many owners can avoid a bunch of transfer diseases just by making sure their dog is properly protected year round from pests that would love a taste of their blood.

Another much-overlooked part of your pet’s health, is their mental status. Your emotional support animal is going to deal with much more than just a normal dog. Thanks to this you are going to need to make sure they have proper time to unwind throughout the day. If your dog seems too stressed or to be going slower each day, then consider taking a break from going out if possible. Also, make sure to properly show your appreciation to your dog through spending downtime with them as well. The less stress your dog feels, the better their heart and brain will do throughout the years.

Finally, be sure to stay with the same vet, if possible, throughout your dog’s life. By keeping the same vet you are guaranteeing that your dog can get some of the best care. That vet will know the ends and outs of your dog’s medical history. This means that your vet will be able to more correctly diagnose your dog or notice any differences in their labs or blood work more quickly.

Keep Them Close

By mixing all of this together you can help your pet live a longer life. Service Dogs may need more care than some other pets due to the amount of stress we put on them. By providing them with great medical care and nutritional requirements though, we can make them have much longer lives. Never skimp when you have the choice of buying your dog better food or medication. With each dollar you are willing to put into your dog, you are a step closer to giving them the longest life possible.

Posted on

How an ESA Letter for Your Pet Helps in Managing Anxiety

The number of people with anxiety has significantly increased in the United States, and each person copes with and treats their anxiety differently. If you’re searching for ways to help you with your anxiety, you might want to consider getting an ESA letter for your pet and registering them for emotional support animal certification. How can an ESA letter help with your anxiety? Keep reading to find out.

Official ESA Status for Your Pet

The primary purpose of an ESA letter is to give your pet official ESA status. This lets people know that your animal companion is more than a pet, and having an ESA gives you certain privileges, such as traveling with your ESA without paying pet fares and living with your ESA in any housing without paying pet fees. This allows you to keep the comforting presence of your pet at your side more often, helping you to manage your anxiety more consistently.

Reduce Worry about Pushback

Unfortunately, there’s still a certain stigma about emotional support animals. Many people view them as frivolous and unnecessary and may even think that you’re just claiming your pet is an emotional support animal to avoid additional fees or for the sake of convenience. For people with anxiety, the fear of encountering this pushback (especially when traveling with their ESA) can actually worsen their symptoms of anxiety.

Having an official letter with you can reduce these worries because you know that you have official evidence from a certified medical professional of your ESA’s importance in helping with your medical condition. When you’re able to produce an ESA letter from your doctor and an official certificate of your animal’s status, you won’t receive pushback, and you can continue on your way without additional anxiety about someone trying to separate you and your ESA.

Avoid Separation Anxiety

If you rely on your pet to help calm your feelings of anxiety, being separated from them can be very stressful. When traveling with a pet, you aren’t guaranteed that your pet will be in the cabin with you. They may be placed under the plane, and if they are with you, you likely will have to keep them in a carrier. This separation can cause a lot of stress for those already dealing with anxiety.

When you have an ESA letter, your pet is allowed to stay with you at all times. You no longer have to deal with prolonged feelings of separation anxiety if you and your pet aren’t permitted to be together while traveling; your pet will instead be considered an essential medical treatment for you, and you’ll be allowed to hold them in your lap when traveling.

Reduce Financial Stresses

Money can be a point of worry for anyone, but for those with serious anxiety, financial stress can significantly increase already existing symptoms. A large and sudden expense can cause someone who is managing their anxiety to experience a panic attack, for example. And this is precisely the kind of thing that happens when trying to travel with or live with an animal that is not an ESA. Airlines, apartments, and other entities frequently charge fees if you want to have an animal with you – if they allow it at all – and these expenses can put a lot of strain on you if your finances are already tight.

An ESA letter and certification require one-time fees that you can easily plan for. Then, you no longer have to worry about paying pet fare on airlines or pet fees for housing. This takes some strain off your finances, potentially removing a trigger for your anxiety.

If you want to register your pet as an ESA, contact the National Service Animal Registry. We can provide you with more information, help you with registration, and even help you find an emotional support animal vest for your newly minted ESA companion.

Posted on

Hypoallergenic Cats for People with Allergies

We all love kitty kitties! Ok, well, maybe not all of us. But for those of us who have a cat that (and for those of us who have one as an emotional support animal), it can be torture to have allergic reactions to the very creatures we adore! Some cat-allergy folks are disciplined enough to Stay Away from the sneezy, itchy, red eye inducing felines. Others simply suffer through the physical discomforts induced in order to snuggle the purring sweet ones, only to regret it later when they are feeling stuffy, itchy and miserable.

If you have a cat as an emotional support animal and have cat allergies, you are in a predicament. But did you know there are hypoallergenic cat breeds? These mystical cats may just be the answer to your dreams. While it’s true that no cat is 100% allergen free, many people have found relief with certain breeds due to a difference in their saliva as compared with most breeds. We’ll get into the specifics, but first, it’s important to understand what causes allergies and why cats in particular cause such an exaggerated reaction in so many people.

What Causes Allergies?

Allergies, in general, are caused by an overly responsive immune system that reacts to harmless proteins in the environment, as though they are dangerous invaders. The immune system responds to this perceived threat by releasing ample amounts of histamine, which causes the uncomfortable symptoms such as itching, sneezing and hives. Among the many potential allergens, some common ones include plant pollens, molds and animal dander.

When it comes to cats, people are often surprised to learn that they are not actually allergic to the fur, but to a protein found in the cat’s saliva. In fact, over 60 % of people who are allergic to cats are specifically allergic to this protein which is called Felis domesticus 1 (Fel d 1). When your emotional support animal fondly bathes her entire fur coat with her rough little tongue, she is also thoroughly dowsing herself with saliva—and you know what that means. This allergy-inducing protein is now coating kitty’s coat from top to bottom, leaving you vulnerable to unpleasant reactions when you come in contact with the fur.

In addition to the saliva, Fel d 1 is found in the feline sebaceous glands (a waxy substance that keeps their skin oily and somewhat waterproof), the lacrimal glands (tear ducts) and the perianul glands (around the anus). Other proteins that have triggered some degree of allergic response in people include Fel d 2, 3 and 4.

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds

Now that we understand a bit of what causes cat allergies to be so severe, we can better understand why there are certain breeds that will not have such a bothersome effect. For example, an emotional support animal cat that sheds less than others will spread less of their protein coated hair all over your house leading you to experience fewer miserable allergic reactions.

However, wouldn’t the best sort of emotional support animal cat be one who doesn’t produce the allergy-triggering protein to begin with? There are a few breeds who actually have less Fel d 1 in their systems and people have reported having far less negative reactions to these particular cats.

It’s important to note that no cat breed is 100% hypoallergenic, since all cats, like all animals, produce dander. Dander is a common allergen and if you are among those who are allergic to the dander as opposed to the Fel d 1 protein, a hypoallergenic cat may not solve your predicament. You can get tested to find out your specific allergy, or experiment to see which cats your react to.

Let’s examine a few specific cat breeds who produce less than average Fel d 1 protein and several cat breeds who shed less than others.

Siberian: As their name suggests, the Siberian cat come from the Siberia in Russia. Also known as the Siberian forest cat, if you live in a cold weather place, this might just be the perfect emotional support animal for you. They are hardy and strong, weighing between 15 and 27 pounds. They have luxurious, long, thick, triple haired coats with waterproof hair.

This breed is the well known to have far smaller levels of Fel d 1 than other cat breeds, though they still have some mind you. The exact levels of the protein can be different from one cat to the next, but in general, if you are looking for a Fel d 1 free cat, this is the closest you’re going to get.

Their hypoallergenic tendencies are not the only attractive thing about inviting a Siberian cat into your home. A very playful breed, Siberians are great with children and other animals and are even said to enjoy playing in water! They are also quite intelligent, are natural mousers and tend to be quiet voiced (unlike the talkative Siamese).

Siamese: The Siamese cat comes from Thailand (formerly Siam) and they are distinct because of their slanted blue eyes, big ears, a light colored body with a dark face and long skinny legs. Like the Siberian cat, Siamese have less Fel d 1 in their systems, so they may be good emotional support animals for the allergic cat lover.

The Siamese cat appears frequently in myth and lore as this ancient breed had an esteemed place by the side of Siam’s royalty, even taking up residence in temples where they were catered to as kings and queens.

Siamese cats are known for being quite affectionate, playful and talkative. They do not like to spend a lot of time alone, preferring to have their human companion by their side. Their sociability makes them less than ideal for someone who is gone a lot as they can become destructive if left lonely too often.

Balinese: Balinese cats are a result of human breeders crossing the Siamese with other cats to produce a long-haired version—thus, unlike our previous two examples, their name may be misleading, as they are not actually from Bali! These cats are similar to Siamese, their parent breed, with the main difference being their longer medium length coat.

Since they are descendants of the Siamese breed, it is perhaps not surprising that the Balinese also tend to have less Fel d 1 protein. In addition, their single layer coat of hair means they shed less, making them extra appealing to those with allergies.

The Balinese personality is also similar to their parent breed, as they are also marked by being very playful, talkative and companionable, though they are bit more independent than the Siamese. They also tend to get along with other people and animals. These cats are an excellent choice as an emotional support animal.

Cornish Rex: While they don’t produce less Fel d 1 than other breeds, Rex’s do shed much less than other cats. Rex’s in general lack guard hair and the remaining hair is curly, laying close to the body. (You can also check out the Devon Rex or the Selkirk Rex who also shed less). Because of their unique fur, people with cat hair allergies often do well with the Rex breeds.

Cornish Rex is a very unusual looking cat with huge ears, a lanky body, and “rippling” fur. They have even been said to look somewhat alien. These cats are very energetic and love to be the center of attention. Another great choice as an emotional support animal.

Burmese: The Burmese cat comes from Burma, where it was, at one point, worshipped in temples. With large gold eyes, they were known as copper cats. The variety found in the US is mainly brown while more color variants exist in other parts of the world.

These pretty kitties are known to have less Fel D 1 than other cats (perhaps due to the fact that they were interbred with Siamese when they first made their journey to the US) and they also shed less than other cats.

These excellent emotional support animal prospects are extremely social and are known to follow their owner from room to room. They do quite well with children and love to sit your lap. They are quite expressive and will talk to you with their charmingly scratchy meow.

Russian Blue: Russian Blues are another low-shedding breed with stunning silver tipped hair. The Russian Blues have a plush double layer of fur that sticks out at a 45 degree angle, so that if you draw patterns in their hair, it will actually stick. Their coats are said to be like that of a seal’s and they were likely even hunted for their pelts at one time. Like the Siberian cat, the Russian Blues come from Russia.

An amazing cat as an emotional support animal, the Russian Blue breed is known for its emotional intelligence. They can actually look sad when ignored and have been known to sense sadness in people which they respond to with touch and by acting silly. On the flip side, they are easily startled and are uncomfortable with change. Preferring their routine to remain consistent, changing location is difficult for them, meaning they probably won’t make for the ideal travel cat.

These kitties are independent and will do fine if left alone, though they also like human company and are quite playful. In fact they even like to play catch. Though they’ll be friendly with the whole family, they often choose to partner with one human in particular ? an excellent trait in an emotional support animal.

Sphynx Cat: These famous, “hairless” cat breeds include the Peterbald and Donskoy. While not actually hairless, they have a fine down which can barely be felt or seen. Because of the lack of hair to absorb the Fel d 1 containing oils produced by their sebaceous glands, their oily skin can actually be even more of an allergen than fur is for some people. On the other hand, some people with allergies do quite well with the Sphynx cat as an emotional support animal, probably because they are actually allergic to cat hair. Besides being hairless, these cats have many wrinkles and a cute pot belly. Their faces are surprisingly sphynx-like (thus the name). Despite their regal appearance, these cats are quite acrobatic, loving to be the center of attention. A very mischievous extrovert, these cats will definitely keep you entertained. They love humans and get along well with other animals too.

A Few Other Tips

In addition to the above breeds, when considering a hypoallergenic cat as an emotional support animal, there are few other tips. For instance, male cats tend to have more Fel d 1 than females cats, so you may be better off getting a female cat. In the same vein, an intact male has more Fel d 1 than a neutered male, so if you do get a male, it is a good idea to get him fixed. Also, for some reason dark haired cats tend to have more Fel d 1 than light haired cats, so you can keep this in mind too while picking out an emotional support animal.

If you already have a cat as an emotional support animal, or still experience allergic symptoms after getting a hypoallergenic breed, there are some good rules of thumb to follow at home in an effort to minimize uncomfortable reactions.

Be sure to vacuum frequently and clean surfaces, in order to minimize the buildup of hair and dander. Also, brush your cat frequently—at least once a week—to prevent unnecessary amounts of hair in your home. You could also try putting homeopathic drops in the cat’s water which are intended to reduce the Fel d 1 effect.

In addition, if possible in your home, it helps to have outdoor cats when it comes to allergies, for a few reasons. For one thing, a cat who goes outside will do a good amount of its shedding and dander dropping out in the open, leaving your space relatively free of these allergens. In addition, cat litter boxes often contain the greatest amount of Fel d 1 since so much is found in the anal gland of the cat. This means that if you do away with a kitty litter box in favor of having the cat go to the bathroom outside, you are automatically minimizing a source of allergies. (Plus you won’t need to deal with changing the litter!)

And of course, you can always turn to antihistamines, decongestants or even steroids for extreme allergic attacks.

Conclusion

If you love cats and have or are considering one as an emotional support animal but have an allergy that frustrates your ability to enjoy time with sweet felines, consider getting yourself tested for allergies. Once you know your specific allergy, you can figure out which kitty breed you feel best around. Also, remember that every cat is different, and while spending time with one kitty may wind up giving you a horrendous stuffy head and itchy eyes, you may feel just dandy around another cat.

To make your cat an emotional support animal, click here.

Emotional Support Animal News

People like flying with their emotional support animal because having them can significantly reduce anxiety during a stressful travel and flying experience. Although many animal species qualify as emotional support animals, if you want to fly with an emotional support animal, you’re better off with a cat or dog.

In August 2019 the Department of Transportation ruled that service animals could include dogs and miniature horses, while emotional support animals would be allowed at the discretion of the airline. Nearly all airlines limit emotional support animals to cats and dogs only.

Posted on

Vegetables Your Service Dog Can and Can’t Eat?

When you have a best friend who is also a furry, four legged service dog with a happy grin and a wagging tail, it is only natural to want to share a plate. It’s fun to share food—it’s a major part of human culture and one of the ways in which we connect with one another. But…dogs are canines, not homo sapiens (hard to remember, I know) and thus, have not only different nutritional requirements, but also different digestive abilities.

To reassure you, before we go any further, it is absolutely Ok to share food with your service dog, just not everything, and certainly not in the same quantities.

While your service dog is an omnivore, meaning they can eat a range of meat and plant based foods, our sweet domestic version of the species is not always quite so strictly in touch with their instincts that they will know to avoid potentially toxic foods. In fact, dogs are notorious for eating just about anything put in front of them, including things like chocolate, which are quite toxic, as well as over eating until they make themselves sick. To be fair, it is a dog’s instinct to overeat, seeing as how in the wild their ancestors (and current relatives, such as the wolf) would gorge themselves on the kill, uncertain when the next meal would arrive.

Since your service dog will not necessarily be a good judge of what is appropriate and safe to eat, it is up to you, as a devoted companion to your furry friend, to take on the responsibility of being informed about the various foods we eat and whether they are safe for sharing with our pups.

This article will focus on vegetables in particular. Are vegetables good for your service dog? Are vegetables harmful to your service dog? When is it appropriate to feed your service dog veggies, and how should you prepare them? And how much? Keep reading, as we delve into these questions.

Doggie Digestive Systems: Carnivore or Omnivore?

Are dogs carnivores (strictly meat eaters) or omnivores (capable of eating meat and vegetables, like humans, and raccoons)? This is actually a bigger debate than you might guess. While dogs seem to be made physiologically to be carnivores, they are classified as omnivores because they can (and do) eat plant materials, including fruits and vegetables. In fact, eating strictly meat will make your service dog sick over the long run, as he will be missing essential nutrients.

Still, dog bodies are optimized for meat, with the pointy teeth of a true carnivore and a digestive system emphasizing strong stomach acid (to kill bacteria of decaying meat), a lack of amylase in the saliva (necessary for the breakdown of starch), an extra large stomach (in order to contain all the meat from those gorging fests) and an overall shorter digestive tract than herbivores or even full on omnivores (like humans) who need a longer tract to breakdown and absorb plant material.

On the other hand, your service dog is an incredibly adaptive animal and are capable of processing a wide range of foods for its nutritional content. Indeed, since hounds joined the human race as one of our specie’s favorite allies some 15,000 years ago, they have certainly proved themselves capable of surviving off a wide range of foods, indicating a more omnivorous habit. Unlike cats, for instance, who really cannot process most vegetables and will not survive without a high meat diet, dogs have proved that they can (and will) eat and digest vegetables. Dogs do not, however, need vegetables to survive. That is, they do not need vegetables in the way we do—but they do need plant material.

The diet of your service dog’s ancestors included eating the stomach contents of their prey: herbivores, who were chock full of plant material—mainly grasses. Canines are also scavengers, meaning they can both eat and receive good nutrients from eating rotting vegetables, carcasses and even (though a little disgustingly) poop.

A good idea, in light of this information, would be to focus the bulk of the diet on animal protein, but incorporate vegetables and other foods as more supplemental bits. The best vegetables will be leafy greens, since they are most similar to the grasses a dog would eat in the wild. However, other vegetables, offered in moderation, can be good too. We’ll discuss more specifics below.

What Nutritional Value Do Vegetables Have (For a Dog)?

Vegetables provide a wide range of minerals and vitamins. They also provide wonderful fiber, which can improve digestion (or, conversely, hamper digestion, causing diarrhea if overdone).

Every vegetable will of course have a different make up of vitamins and minerals. Some of the essential vitamins and minerals required by the canine and which can be found in varying degrees in a given vegetable include: B Vitamins, Calcium, Chlorine, Choline, Copper, Folic acid, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Phosphorus, Potassium, Riboflavin, Selenium, Sodium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Zinc.

How to Introduce and Prepare Vegetables for Your Service Dog

So, now that we know your service dog can eat vegetables, how do we actually feed these healthy veggies to our puppy dogs? Can you just put a pile of well-seasoned and prepared veg on a plate for your service dog’s dinner? Or toss him a raw salad?

The answer is no. It’s not quite that simple. Your service dog can eat vegetables, but there are ways to make it easier for him/her to digest and assimilate the nutrients.

Dogs take a while to adjust to any new food. In fact, when introducing a new food, it is not uncommon for a dog to get diarrhea, not necessarily because the food is inherently bad for him, but because his body does not recognize it. It takes time for the body to learn what a food is, and how to break it down and use it to build cells.

This is why it is a good idea to begin small: Try giving your service dog just a bite or two of that zucchini, and increase over time, watching to see his reaction. Give his body time to adjust to this foreign experience, because one thing for certain, if your service dog likes the zucchini, she will not be moderating herself.

Another reason starting slow is a good idea, is that it will allow you to watch your service dog for an actual allergy. Dogs, like humans, sometimes just have a bad reaction to a specific food. While a little diarrhea is normal when introducing a new food, if it sustained and/or in combination with other symptoms such as lethargy or puking, call your veterinarian (and it goes without saying, STOP giving the problem food to the poor pooch!).

Another way to both ease the transition for your service dog into eating vegetables, and to assure the highest rate of digestion and absorption of the veggie, is in a mindful preparation. While dogs can handle some raw vegetables, their digestive systems are not as efficient at processing raw foods as humans (due to the shorter, carnivorous digestive tract).

There are lots of ways you can prepare the food for optimal digestion insuring your service dog gets all the nutrients it can out of the veggies. You can boil, steam, bake, grill or roast the fine veggies for your grateful service dog. Or, you could even leave it raw, but puree it, so the smaller bits will be easier to assimilate into the canine body.

Yet another good reason to cut the veggies into small pieces or cook them ahead of time, is because your service dog’s jaws and teeth are not ideally suited for chewing: their jaw only moves up and down, unlike a human (or herbivore) jaw, which moves side to side while chewing. They also have less molars. This means that dogs tend to swallow quickly—which can potentially lead to choking, especially with hard vegetables.

As for seasoning, salt is unnecessary. In fact, it can even be dangerous, leading to sodium ion poisoning. This is also why it’s a good idea to avoid pickled veggies as well, since they tend to be very high in sodium. Your service dog gets all the salt he/she needs from natural sources and are sensitive to excessive intake of this mineral.

If you really want to exercise your culinary genius for your beloved service dog, it is ok (and even beneficial) to add some more neutral herbs, such as rosemary or parsley. Think culinary herbs here, and as always, be sure to check that they are safe before tossing them into the dish.

And if you find you really enjoy preparing your service dog’s veggie snacks, you can even take it a step further by making your own dog food with a combination of proteins, vegetables and grains!

Vegetables to AVOID!

The list of vegetables to avoid is actually not so extensive. The main thing with veggies is that dogs don’t need that many of them—and they will get sick if fed a particular veggie in too great of portions or too often. If you regulate how much veggies your hound is getting, she should be just fine. The truly toxic veggies are few, and even they would need to be eaten in a large quantity to really cause damage.

Onion

This root vegetable of the alium family is dangerous to dogs in large quantities because of a constituent found in it called thiosulphate. Terrifyingly, because dogs lack the enzyme necessary to digest this chemical, it becomes toxic in their bodies and can cause the rupture of red blood cells, known as hemolytic anemia.

Don’t panic if your service dog gets a hold of a slice of pizza with onions on it. While you definitely do not want to intentionally be feeding him onions, a few here and there will not cause great damage. However, a cumulative effect—that is, eating a little bit of onion on a regular basis over a long time—can have quite serious consequences.

Some breeds are more sensitive than others, but it’s a good idea to avoid onions altogether just to be safe. And that includes powdered onions! Many seasoning include powdered onion, so keep this in mind when feeding Fido table scraps.

Other members of the Alium family such as chives, leeks and garlic also contain this ingredient, so best to avoid them in big quantities as well.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb contains oxalates, which are salts which can bind with the bodies calcium, causing a calcium deficiency. The stem is actually Ok to eat, as it contains such a small amount of oxalates. The leaves, however, contain toxic levels of oxalates if enough is consumed. Symptoms can include drooling, diarrhea, tremors and lethargy.

Avocado

Technically a fruit, Avocados contain persin, which is actually considered only mildly toxic to dogs, if at all. It has gotten a bad rap due to the poisoning effects it has on other animals, such as birds and cattle (so if you have a canary or a cow, do not feed it avocado…but your service dog will probably be fine, if you follow the outline above and introduce it slowly, observing the response).

Vegetables for You and Your Service dog to EMBRACE!

Luckily, as evidenced by the very few harmful veggies for dogs, most vegetables are fair game for you hound, when given in moderation and prepared in the correct way. And that is great news, because vegetables are often a healthier alternative to commercial treats which contain additives and chemicals.

Here’s a list of some of the popular vegetables to feed dogs (though far from exhaustive), and why they are good, along with any stipulations in the preparation.

Broccoli

Broccoli is great, but only in small quantities—it contains isothiocyanates, which can cause stomach upset, so feed in moderation.

Carrots

Especially noted for their high beta carotene and Vitamin A content (essential for healthy bones and immune system, among other things), carrots are also excellent for cleaning tartar off dog teeth!

Celery

Celery is high in fiber, Vitamins A, B and C as well as plethora of minerals. It is great for your dogs heart and also contains Apigenin, which is a cancer fighting compound. While high in salt (meaning, like the rest of the veggies, only serve in moderation!), celery is known to freshens a dog’s breath.

Corn

Corn, in the form of corn starch, is actually one of the primary ingredients in mainstream dog food. Corn is a source of proteins, carbohydrates, antioxidants and linoleic acis. Corn is great, just be sure not to give it to your service dog on the cob! This is unfortunate, since it seems like corn on the cob would make such a great chew toy! However, the inedible cob can actually rip up your service dog’s digestive system, causing major damage. On the flipside, popcorn is ok! (so long as it’s plain without butter and salt).

Cucumber

Cucumbers are so full of water and minerals that they are quite hydrating, among other things. While the skin is the most healthy part, it is unfortunately also the most challenging to digest. Peel it before feeding your service dog to avoid stomach upset.

Greenbeans

A great, snappy treat, greenbeans contain vitamin C, K and manganese.

Potatoes

High in iron, potatoes are great for dogs, so long as they are cooked (either boiled or baked, without seasoning).

Sweet Potatoes

Full of beta carotene, potassium, vitamin B6 and C, sweet potatoes are also great for your service dog’s fur coat and skin.

There are literally dozens of other vegetables out there: root veggies such as beets, squashes, pumpkins, cauliflower, zucchini and various greens, such as kale. The main thing to keep in mind when considering a new vegetable for your service dog, is to introduce it slowly. And it is always a good idea to look up each new vegetable, just to be sure it’s safe and to check on the specifics.

Conclusion:

There are lots of good reasons to incorporate vegetables into your service dog’s diet. Feeding your service dog vegetables can be a great low carb alternative to doggie treats, offering her baby carrots or slices of cucumber. It can also be fun to share your food with your pup. If you’re cooking dinner, for instance, and chopping veggies—perhaps you want to share the experience with Rex by tossing him a bit of zucchini. Veggies can also offer dogs important vitamins and minerals. Just remember that your service dog’s diet should really be based around protein. Celebrate vegetables and experiment with the safe food options for your pet, just remember to keep your hound’s diet balanced.