Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

Struggling with mental health can be an isolating experience. We often put up walls, push people away, or avoid social interaction to protect ourselves. When this happens for a long period, relationships can grow distant, and we may feel like we are all alone.

Getting an emotional support animal (ESA) can help one cope with mental health struggles. ESAs provide unconditional love, companionship, and comfort. Sometimes, they can even help us be more social. In this article, we will share the myriad benefits of ESAs.

Providing Comfort and Reducing Loneliness

Some animals, especially dogs, are incredibly good at observing our behavior. Many dogs will notice when we look upset or distressed and offer to be petted and hugged. Having an animal to hug and hold during a difficult moment can help ease such distress.

It’s also nice to have a companion who is always there for you without judgment. Animals are a safe space; we can feel our feelings in front of them and even rely on them for physical comfort without having to worry about negative or unwanted feedback.

Furthermore, having an ESA can reduce loneliness by offering constant companionship and interaction. Many animals enjoy being played with, held, or spoken to.

Improving Self Worth

Some people may struggle with their sense of purpose and self-worth. When their mental health gets bad, they might feel like there is no point in their existence and that they provide no worth to society.

However, taking care of an emotional support animal can reduce these feelings. Animals rely on us for their health and well-being. They must be loved, fed, exercised, and cleaned up afterward. Without our care, they may not be able to survive. For many, knowing that they are providing their ESA with a good life helps them feel better about themselves and their purpose in this world.

Reducing Stress

Interacting with animals can reduce cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. It also often increases levels of serotonin and dopamine (which make you happy). Researchers studied college students as they pet and play with dogs and cats for about 10 minutes and found that even that short amount of time was enough to see positive results in stress reduction.

Helps to Increase Exercise

If you get an emotional support dog, you’ll get more exercise. Even small dogs should be walked daily, weather permitting. Exercise has a myriad of benefits for physical and mental health.


Exercise can help boost serotonin and dopamine levels and also improve sleep. A good night’s rest is important in reducing negative emotions such as anxiety, irritability, and depression.

Exercise a dog will also help you get outdoors. Spending time in nature has been linked to positive outcomes such as lower stress, improved attention, better mood, and even an increase in empathy.

Ameliorating Social Connections

Having an ESA can make it easier for people to form social connections, especially with others who own pets. It provides a relatable and enjoyable conversation topic.

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If your ESA is a dog, it may open up more opportunities for you to speak with new people and make new connections. While out on a walk, others may want to pet your dog and chit-chat with you. If you take your dog to a dog park, you’ll likely meet people who have something in common with you—a love for dogs!

Maintaining a Routine

Caring for an ESA can help people maintain a routine. Animals need to be fed at the same time every day, and other activities, such as walks or playtime, can also be part of the schedule.

Mental health conditions can sometimes strip us of the motivation to keep a routine for our own well-being. While we may be willing to neglect ourselves, most of us will not neglect our animals (and some pets will make sure to remind us when it’s time to eat or go for a walk!).


This helps us stick to a daily routine. Routines are beneficial because they improve sleep, stress management, diet, and physical activity levels.

ESAs Are More Than Just Companions

Emotional support animals are more than just companions. They provide us with a safe space to express our emotions and comfort us when needed. They can also improve our feelings of self-worth because we know they rely on us.

Spending time with an ESA can reduce stress and feelings of loneliness; in some cases, they can even help us make new connections. If the ESA is a dog, they can improve our overall health by forcing us to exercise. As you can see, emotional support animals have a lot to offer in terms of cuddles and love and real health benefits.

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