Posted on

Does Your Service Dog Have Diabetes?

Over the last 10 years, there has been a massive increase in canine diabetes. In animals, just as in humans, it is a growing epidemic. It’s vitally important that Service Dog owners recognize the symptoms of diabetes because caught early it can be controlled and dogs can live a full life. On the other hand, left untreated diabetes can have long-term consequences and can even be fatal.

The aim of this article is to provide all the information you need to recognize the symptoms of diabetes, plus information about causes and treatment options.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the pancreas either stops producing insulin, doesn’t produce enough, or the body doesn’t respond to it correctly.

Insulin acts as a “gatekeeper” in muscle, fat and liver cells, by enabling these cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Service dogs, like all dogs and cats, need glucose for energy in the same way that humans do.

Insulin also helps the liver to store excess glucose. When too much sugar is present in the system insulin signals the liver to stop releasing it into the bloodstream.

If your Service Dog doesn’t have enough insulin in its system, there are two consequences. Firstly, the cells can’t absorb glucose so excessive sugar levels will build up in the bloodstream. High levels of glucose act like a poison and can cause damage to the eyes, heart, kidneys, muscles, and nerves.

Secondly, insulin is the gatekeeper that signals to the organs and muscles that they should absorb glucose to use for energy. Without it, the organs and muscles don’t get the fuel they need and start to break down protein and fats to use as fuel instead.

Type I and Type II Diabetes

The two main types of diabetes are Type I and Type II.

Type I Diabetes is also called Insulin-Deficient Diabetes. This is the most common form of diabetes in dogs. In Type I Diabetes the pancreas is damaged and doesn’t produce any insulin.

Type II Diabetes is also called Insulin-Resistant Diabetes. It is possible for your service dog to suffer from Type II Diabetes, but it is rare. In Type II Diabetes, the pancreas produces some insulin but not enough, and the body doesn’t use it as it should. This normally occurs in older, obese dogs. Sometimes female dogs get Type II Diabetes when they are on heat or pregnant.

What causes diabetes?

Obesity: Dogs are more likely to suffer from diabetes if they are obese (a good reason to help your service dog maintain a good weight). Obesity causes insulin resistance and leads to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis often causes damage to the pancreas which results in it no longer being able to produce insulin.

Steroids:Long-term use of steroids for the treatment of other disorders can lead to diabetes.

Other diseases:Cushing’s Disease causes overproduction of steroids in the body which can cause diabetes. Dogs that suffer from other autoimmune and viral diseases can also be more prone to diabetes.

Genetics: It doesn’t matter that your service dog is a mixed breed; Mixed breeds are just as likely to get diabetes as pure-breeds. Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to diabetes than others, such as Miniature PoodlesBichons FrisesPugsDachshundsMiniature SchnauzersPuli, Samoyeds, Keeshonds, Australian Terriers, Fox Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles.

Female dogs and older dogs (5+ years) are also more likely to suffer from diabetes.

How do I know if my service dog has diabetes?

The four classic signs of diabetes are increased frequency of urination, excessive thirst and hunger, and weight loss.

Increased urination: A dog suffering from diabetes will urinate more frequently because a lack of insulin means glucose in the bloodstream is not converted into energy. As glucose builds up, the body will try to get rid of the excess of sugar by urinating more frequently and in more volume. Your Service Dog might also have accidents in the house.

Excessive thirst: Increased urination leads to dehydration so a dog with diabetes often appears to be thirsty all the time.

Increased hunger: Dogs with diabetes often feel constantly hungry. As glucose failes to get to the brain, the brain sends out a signal that the body is starving, so your service dog keeps eating to try to get the nutrients it needs.

Dramatic weight loss:As there is no insulin present to signal to the cells they need to absorb glucose for energy, the body does not get the fuel it needs. This often causes dramatic weight loss.

If your service dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, they might have advanced diabetes.

Extreme lack of energy and/or loss of appetite: If your service dog seems to have less energy than they used to, starts sleeping excessively or loses interest in food, it might be a sign of advanced diabetes. This is caused by the cells not getting the fuel they need from glucose absorption.

Depression:Dogs with diabetes often appear to be depressed. This is caused by too many ketones in the body due to insulin deficiency.

Vomiting:Older dogs are prone to vomiting in the advanced stages of diabetes, as are females, dachshunds, and miniature poodles.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

If your Service Dog displays symptoms of diabetes, ask your Veterinarian to do blood and urine tests.

Elevated levels of glucose in the blood is a sign of diabetes, but it can also be a sign of stress, so if you are in doubt ask for further tests.

Blood tests can show other indications that your service dog may have diabetes, such as high liver enzymes and electrolyte imbalances. The sooner diabetes is diagnosed, the more chance there is that treatment will be effective, and your dog will be able to live a normal life.

How is canine diabetes treated?

Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be treated effectively, particularly if it is caught early.

The aim of the treatment is to normalize sugar levels. Treatment usually involves a combination of insulin injections, diet, and exercise. Your Veterinarian will make a personalized plan for your service dog, taking into account his glucose levels, weight, general health, and exercise habits.

Most dogs with diabetes will need to be injected with insulin twice a day after meals. Your Veterinarian will choose which form of insulin is most suitable for him. It can take a few months to get the dose of insulin right, so you may need to take him for weekly checkups until his insulin level is normalized. Injections must be given at the same time every day. Don’t be surprised if your vet requires your service dog to have the glucose level in their blood to be measured every day using a pinprick test.

If you are consistent with the injections, monitoring, and check-ups, your Service Dog should be able to live a healthy life and is less likely to suffer from complications. Remember, if you go away and leave your dog in the care of other people, it is vital they are also confident following the treatment plan.

You might feel worried at first about giving injections but you’ll soon find it a very quick and easy process. Your Veterinarian will give you precise instructions on how to administer the injections including how to check you have the correct concentration of insulin in the syringe. Your service dog will not feel any pain. Insulin doesn’t hurt, the needles are small and injections are given under skin so they can’t damage any organs.

Obesity

If your Service Dog is obese, your Veterinarian will advise you how to get his weight under control through diet and exercise. Be prepared that this might take a few months. It is essential to get your service dog’s weight to a normal level as it is very difficult to treat dogs with diabetes if they are overweight.

Monitoring

In order to keep track of your Service Dog’s health, it’s a good idea to keep a chart with daily glucose levels, insulin dose, diet, and weekly weight so patterns can be checked and treatment adjusted as necessary.

Hospitalization

It may be necessary to hospitalize your Service Dog at first for tests and treatment. After this, he will be able to go home and you can take over his care.

If your Service Dog already has advanced diabetes and has stopped eating and drinking for several days, he might require longer hospitalization with intensive medical treatment.

How much does treatment for diabetes cost?

The cost of treatment will vary according to your Veterinarian and the health of your dog. Initially, you will need to pay for regular checkups and possibly hospitalization. Once the glucose levels are normalized, the cost of insulin, needles, and diet are not high.

The cost of treating a dog in the advanced stages of diabetes is much higher, however, so it’s important to get treatment as early as possible and be consistent with injections and monitoring.

What is the best diet for a dog with diabetes?

If your Service Dog is diagnosed with diabetes, your Veterinarian will advise you about the best diet. It’s important not to change his food suddenly without proper advice.

Both the type and amount of food your dog eats will have to be regulated. Normally, diabetic dogs are put on a diet that is low in fat and high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. These foods are lower in sugar and slow the absorption of glucose which means your Service Dog will not have to cope with large amounts of glucose at one time.

Giving your Service Dog a balanced diet will help regulate his glucose levels. Never give your dog treats meant for humans as these can be dangerously high in sugar.

Feed him twice a day just before his insulin injections. If you are used to leaving food out for your dog to eat when he’s hungry, you are likely to need to change this habit. It’s much more difficult with “free feeding” to accurately measure the amount of food your dog is consuming.

As well as a balanced diet, moderate and consistent exercise is vital for maintaining blood sugar levels.

What if my Service Dog doesn’t get better?

Sometimes it takes a while to find the correct dose of insulin for a dog with diabetes. Regular checkups with your Veterinarian are vital and you may need to check your dog’s glucose levels at home.

If his appetite suddenly increases or he seems thirstier than usual, contact your Veterinarian immediately. If your Service Dog suddenly gets very lethargic or groggy it could be a sign that his blood-sugar levels are dangerous.

Complications of diabetes

Dogs with diabetes are prone to complications. These include Urinary Tract Infections because of the high levels of sugar in the urine. In addition, it is very important for dogs with diabetes to have their teeth cleaned regularly as oral infections can cause increases in blood sugar.

If your Service Dog has diabetes, he is also more likely to get cataracts. Dogs often cope well with reduced sight because their hearing and sense of smell are so acute.

There are other complications of diabetes particularly involving the liver and kidneys, and dogs with diabetes are also prone to seizures.

One of the most serious complications of diabetes is Ketoacidosis which is caused by the liver breaking down fat into ketones. This is often caused by a combination of low insulin levels and another infection, surgery, or stress.

Ketoacidosis is potentially life-threatening. Symptoms include sweet breath, panting, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting. As part of your management plan, your Veterinarian may give you ketone measuring sticks so you can monitor the level of ketones and catch an increase before it becomes a problem. If your dog shows increased levels, or displays any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult with your Veterinarian immediately.

Final words

Diabetes is a very serious disease and shouldn’t be underestimated. If your Service Dog displays any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is vital you consult your Veterinarian immediately. If caught early, treatment can be very effective, and your dog will be able to live a full life. Left untreated, however, it can lead to many other health issues.

Posted on

Understanding the Positive Effects of Emotional Support Animals

The average person who deals with depression, anxiety, or other health conditions does it on their own. Sure, they have health care providers and maybe a therapist, but for the most part, they have limited support. Friends and family get busy. Doctors and therapists are only available during regular office hours. An animal, on the other hand, doesn’t have a schedule and is always at your side. If you already have a cuddly pet, you know how important they are to your well-being. An emotional support animal (ESA) can change your life! Today’s post covers the impact ESAs have on their owner’s lives. Learn about the positive things you could experience with an ESA support dog by your side.

A New Look on Life

If you suffer from depression, you know it’s more than feeling tired or not up to par a few days a week. Depression takes over and moves in for the long-haul. Most people who deal with depression experience a range of symptoms, but one common thread is a loss of hope. It’s difficult to plod through daily life without hope for the future. People without hope often have trouble caring for themselves and others. Spending time with a pet, especially one with a wagging tail and soulful eyes, can alleviate the symptoms of depression. As your mood lifts, you’ll feel hopeful again. While not a substitute for medication prescribed by your doctor, you could think of an ESA as a component of your treatment program.

Help for Anxiety

There’s a reason why so many people bring their ESA when they travel, especially on airplanes. It’s not uncommon for people to get anxious when they fly. For some, the anxiety is paralyzing and, in extreme cases, prevents the person from traveling by plane, which can put a damper on seeing the world. Traveling with an ESA may help alleviate some of the anxiety. While taking anti-anxiety medication may work, an ESA offers a different kind of relief. When you focus on your dog, instead of the fear of airplanes, you’ll usually relax and even enjoy your travel experience. By the way, simply petting your ESA can relieve anxiety, whether you’re on a plane, or sitting in your living room.

They Love You Back

The joy of owning a pet is the unconditional love they give, no matter what. An ESA doesn’t care if you’re feeling out of sorts. They love you anyway! There’s nothing like the unconditional love of an animal, but it’s especially helpful to a person with emotional health issues. It’s not uncommon for a person who has a mental health condition to feel unlovable. At the least, they may not feel like being around people. Your ESA will stay by your side, loving you right through the dark moments.

An Integral Part of Treatment

While they’re not a substitute for medical or mental health care, ESAs work as part of your overall treatment. Whether you exercise or practice mindfulness, you can incorporate time with your ESA into your treatment methods. When you need to ground yourself, you can focus on your animal. If you use exercise, your ESA can help motivate you to walk or run every day. Since they’re an essential part of treatment, you should consider ESA dog registration. Registering your ESA opens up a world of benefits, including the ability to show people that your animal is a legitimate support animal. For help with registration, contact National Service Animal Registry at (866) 737-3930 today!

Posted on

What Disabilities Qualify You for a Service Dog?

For those who live with disabilities, a service animal can be more than just a companion. A service animal is a specially trained assistant that can help a person accomplish a specific task that would otherwise be difficult or impossible because of their disability. While the tasks for which service animals are trained vary widely from person to person based on condition, the rights of those who rely on service animals are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Acts. A service dog registry can provide additional credentials for those who use service animals to accomplish daily tasks, but the rights of service dog users are protected nonetheless by the law of the land.

Whether you have your animal listed on the service dog registry or not, there are some clear-cut qualifications that a person with disabilities must meet for their animals to be considered true service animals, thus qualifying them for access and protection of their rights. Read on to learn more about which types of disabilities may qualify you for a service animal.

Physical Disability Definition

A disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as any physiological condition or disfigurement of a cosmetic or physiological nature that includes neurological, musculoskeletal, sensory, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic, lymphatic, skin, or endocrine systems and organs.

Physical Disabilities and Service Dogs

There are many specific conditions that lead to disabilities that could qualify people for service dog usage. Those physical conditions include, but aren’t limited to, blindness or deafness, epilepsy, paralysis from any cause, allergies, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, loss of limb, and seizures.

Mental Disability Definition

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines mental disability as any mental or psychological disorder that causes mental distress such as traumatic brain injury, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and some learning disabilities.

Mental Disabilities and Service Dogs

While mental disabilities may not be as easy to observe by members of the public, those who suffer from those conditions can sometimes be aided by highly trained service dogs. Those mental disabilities that qualify for service dog assistance include, but aren’t limited to, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, depression, mood disorders, neurocognitive disorders, psychotic disorders, autism, and addiction disorders.

How Service Dogs Help

Service dogs can be trained to perform many tasks that are tailored to assist with the disabilities of their handlers. For example, service dogs can help those with physical disabilities such as sensory conditions by leading their handlers around in crowded places and alerting them to dangers. Some dogs assist their handlers with mobility by providing stability during walking or pulling wheelchairs. Other service animals are trained to provide medication reminders or sense when there’s a dangerous situation on the horizon, such as diabetic experiences plummeting blood sugar. Some dogs are even trained to dial 911 in an emergency or hail other family members to request help for a fallen owner. For those with mental disabilities, service dogs can help handlers recognize the oncoming signs of depression, for example, and distract them from triggering events. Other service dogs are trained to place their weight on their handlers as a form of deep pressure therapy that can stop an anxiety attack in its tracks. For those who suffer from PTSD, specially trained service dogs can insulate them in large crowds and help maintain space that would otherwise lead PTSD survivors to feel emotionally suffocated.

For those who live with disabilities, whether mental or physical, service dogs can provide needed assistance that can help restore function and feelings of normalcy. People who live with the conditions mentioned above can benefit from the assistance of a service dog. To learn more about what disabilities may qualify you for a service dog, contact the National Service Animal Registry at (866) 737-3930.

Posted on

Coronavirus: The Need for Emotional Support Animals is Real

Covid-19 brings a slew of stresses that can trigger any number of emotional responses. It seems everything is threatened, from our health to our livelihoods, to our natural sociability. Now, it is perhaps more evident than ever how much comfort an emotional support animal can offer through companionship and touch. An emotional support dog, cat or other pet can provide deep therapeutic wellbeing in these troubling times by providing friendship, purpose, and presence.

According to the CDC, some responses to the COVID-19 outbreak can include severe fear and anxiety. This may include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleeping patterns
  • Changes in diet and eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Exacerbation of chronic health conditions
  • Exacerbation of mental health conditions
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

The CDC recommends a few ways to cope with stress and anxiety about the virus, including regular exercise, meditation, deep breathing, reducing your amount of news intake, avoiding alcohol and other substances and staying connected to loved ones through whatever means available. An emotional support animal can also be a great support.

The Stresses of the Corona Virus and How Emotional Support Animals Can Help

Below are a few of the emotional fears that corona virus can trigger. They are by no means insignificant and an emotional support animal is just one way to help mitigate fears and assuage overwhelm.

Isolation

In times of social distancing and mandatory stay at home orders, itis no surprise that a sense of isolation or loneliness can be developed or magnified, resulting in anxiety, depression or even PTSD. An emotional support animal can help soothe these emotional burdens by providing companionship, connection and touch. Letis look at each of these in turn:

Companionship provides the simple, but profound comfort found in sharing a space, or a life, with another living, breathing creature, such as an emotional support dog. Of course, an emotional support animal becomes more than an anonymous creature—they become an integral member of your family and an irreplaceable part of your tribe—even if together you are a family or tribe of two.

This companionship can of course develop into a deep bond of intimacy and love that is the definition of friendship. A friendship with your emotional support dog or other emotional support animal, as with any friendship, can provide feelings of joy and connection. You enjoy each other’s company and develop a rapport of sorts.

Your emotional support dog can also help in times of isolation by providing touch. Touch is something so often underacknowledged, and yet so crucial to the emotional well-being of human beings. An emotional support animal can of course provide plenty of nourishing touch. They are there to nuzzle, scratch, pet and cuddle.

Unemployment and Loss of Financial Security

Our ability to provide for ourselves and our families is critical our sense of overall security. When we lose a job or are in financial stress, especially with no idea when our situation will change, it’s normal to feel our stability deeply rocked. An emotional support animal can help alleviate some of the burden by providing a sense of purpose.

How do they give us a sense of purpose? Well, just as they provide nurturing and comfort, they also require a certain amount of attention and nurturing. An emotional support dog, for example, will get you out of the house to go on walks. (Incidentally, getting out of the house, even just for short walks and with a mask covering half of your face, can also help with feelings of isolation.) An emotional support cat needs you to change the kitty litter and of course, all emotional support animals need to be fed and watered every day.

It may seem small, but even these small responsibilities provide purpose. And it is a comfort to tend to the needs of a loved one, even if you aren’t able to work for a paycheck for the time being.

The Unknown Future

A fear of the future is a general, murky fear of the unknown. What does the future have in store? The truth is, we never know what the future has in store for us, but the sensation is truly magnetized in times of crisis.

One way to soften the anxiety around the unknown, is to ground into the present. Emotional support animals can be wonderful at helping us do just that. Your emotional support dog will snap you out of your ruminations on the end of the world when they need to go outside to pee. And when your emotional support cat curls up with softly squinting eyes in the evening, their purr resounding through the room, you’ll reminded that all is well in this moment.

Emotional support animals also have the ability to make us feel safe and at home—they help us relax, give us a feeling of snugness and warmth. In a world of unknowns, these sweet beings can make us feel deep gratification and contentment, grounding us in the present moment.

Illness, Death and Grief

On the extreme end of this virus crisis is both the fear of illness and death, and actual illness, death and grief from losing loved ones—made all the more awful since social distancing prevents large funerals and group grieving.

When dealing with these fears, an emotional support animal can help in all the ways mentioned above: they may help you to be more present, give you a sense of purpose and provide a nourishing relationship full of affection and touch.

When faced with the loss of a loved one, there may be no great consolation but time. However, sometimes just having a familiar presence by your side is a subtle, but appreciated comfort. An emotional support animal can be that friend.

Your Emotional Support Animal

In these troubling times, being able to find comfort in an animal friend can make a world of difference to your emotional well being.

If you live in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets, or you feel overwhelming stress when traveling alone, you may want to get a registered emotional support dog or other animal. An emotional support dog by your side could help assuage anxiety while maintaining social distancing in public, for example.

Alternatively, if you already have a special animal, you could get them registered as an emotional support animal.

Whatever your registration needs, the National Service Animal Registry can help. An emotional support dog or other animal can help relieve the emotional uneasiness during this pandemic.

If circumstances related to Covid-19 are causing severe anxiety and stress, be sure to seek help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can also call the disaster distress helpline at 1-800-985-5990. Get your own ESA letter and make your pet an emotional support animal here.

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.