As you may know, Ryder is my Emotional Support Animal. There has been more and more buzz about ESAs in the last couple years. It is very unfortunate that this topic has been shown in a negative light.
Any Dog Mom knows that the emotional connection, warmth, love, and support that radiates from a dog. It is one of the greatest sources of love and soothing there is. This love is unconditional; they’re protection and comfort all wrapped into one bundle of love that is a dog.
Essentially, we can see how emotionally supportive pets such as dogs can be, but with the growing trend being to have animals such as hedgehogs as emotional support pets, one has to wonder how much emotional support a hedgehog can genuinely provide.
Do you have very much experience with hedgehogs? Probably not. And most people wouldn’t consider a hedgehog to be the animal you want to cuddle up with in bed after a tough day at work or a break-up.
However, we are all different. Who is to say whether or not a person has a deep connection with an animal such as a hedgehog?!
The pessimist, of course, would try to claim that emotional support pets are an inventive way to sneak your beloved dog into your favourite bar, hotel, or restaurant… but for many people that suffer from depression and anxiety problems, the idea of receiving the unconditional love of their dog in challenging situations is of great comfort.
Anyone that grew up with a dog can relate to the level of unconditional love and affection that is on call all the time. They can be so sensitive and connected to our emotions would make sense that pets such as dogs and cats can provide emotional support.
But surely, when it comes to nervous flyers taking their emotional support hedgehogs onboard has the world not just gone a bit mad?
That said, it’s important to recognize the healing power of pets, irrespective of their genre, as pets do have a positive impact on our emotional and physical health.
The benefits of petting a cat or dog, for instance, can lead to huge improvements in your wellbeing; as engaging in this tactile interaction has been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower stress, improve depression and elevate mood in both pet and owner.
Pets can, however, be a large responsibility and unless you stay on top of looking after them pet ownership can feel more of a burden that drains you rather than nourishes you.
We all know that our animals give us unconditional love and affection, asking nothing in return. But that does not mean we do not have anything to offer them. Let’s explore three ways on how to keep your pets healthy (mostly geared toward dog and cat owners rather than those with emotional support hedgehogs).
3 Simple Ways to Keep Your ESA Healthy
Just like humans, it’s vitally important your pets get the exercise they need. Exercise is great for their physical and emotional health plus it’ll boost your own mood too. That said, you don’t tend to find many people taking their cat for a walk in the local park – which is where toys come in. Laser pointers can be a particularly good tool for this.
Diet & Nutrition
Cats have specific nutritional requirements as they are “obligate carnivores” meaning they need animal proteins to stay healthy, whilst dogs are “scavenging carnivores” meaning they are primarily meat eaters but can survive on other sources of food if necessary.
Equally important to food is hydration so ensuring an adequate and reliable supply of clean drinking water is absolutely essential to your pet’s health. This is particularly relevant in the hot summer months (and in centrally heated houses during the winter).
At some point, your pet will likely develop a problem with fleas.
The most obvious sign your pet has fleas is that they are itching a lot. If you find ‘flea dirt’ then you need to do two things. (1) Treat your pet, and (2) Treat your home. It’s important to note that around 95% of fleas and flea eggs are likely to now be in your home rather than on your pet.
It’s wise to consult your vet on which flea treatment is most effective for your pet, as it is somewhat dependent on medical history and some flea treatments are more effective than others. A popular option for both dogs and cats is frontline, yet a number of vets say this isn’t always effective and a more reliable option is called stronghold flea, though this does usually need to be given on prescription.
Whilst flea treatment is highly effective in killing the fleas and eggs on your pet, the challenge is that if your pet is then in an environment where the fleas are still at large re-infestation will occur. Here is a good resource on the steps to take to rid your home of fleas.
Pets do have tremendous healing powers when it comes to our mental and emotional health; they are there for us in a way that humans rarely are as their love is unconditional. To keep on top of your pet’s health is pretty simple, yet imperatively important, particularly when it comes to nutrition, hydration, and flea prevention but there are other factors to consider too such as keeping up with prophylactic injections and parasite treatments (e.g. worming tablets).