Reliability, trust, care, and respect are all key features of keeping a close bond and are beginning steps to social interaction to someone who suffers with mental illness and needs emotional support animals. There are many scientific studies that have proven that having a pet come with many mental health benefits and assistance companion animals can be seen as very therapeutic. Yet, with all of the benefits of animals helping with our mental health, as a whole we all need to start thinking about our animal’s mental health.

We have mutual trust with our pets, especially when it comes to assistance companion animals. We rely on them to support us through even the simplest of tasks. For example, support dogs help to bring medication on time, they know what to do in the case of an anxiety attack and they support their owner through difficult social situations They manage this through their close bond with their owner which is based on the 4 key elements. Although, it can be very stressful for them too. Some ways we can support our beloved pets is by walking them regularly, making sure they have a healthy and balanced diet, grooming them, etc.

Trust and care go two ways, we need to care for our pet by remembering to feed them, walk them, play with them, etc. Not many people take into consideration the mental health effects on our pets due to our actions. Going on holiday and leaving your dog in a kennel, moving house or having a pet that has had a troubled experience with a previous owner may cause stress and anxiety. There are a few ways to reduce separation anxiety to minimalise the anxiety your pet may feel, for instance, there’s a training technique where you leave your pet for ‘x’ amount of minutes then come back, then leave again for more time and come back again, this will get your pet to accept and get used to you leaving all while making them feel safe in a controlled environment reducing their stress levels.

In honour of National Pet Month, 1st April – 6th May 2019, one of their key aims is to raise awareness on how to care for pets properly and raise awareness to the value of assistance companion animals. The mental health of your pet is just as important as the physical aspects and as an owner, you need to look after both to ensure a healthy pet. Some ways you can show your appreciation for your pet is by taking it for a spa day or making homemade treats for them, this will show how much you value them all whilst doing something simple for them. For other animal care tips check out our ‘Love your pet day’ blog.

Overall, each pet is different and needs support from its owner just as much as the owner needs support from the pet. If there are any worries or concerns, go see the vet and try to find the right balance for you and your pet. Additionally, why not go and have a look at some of our other blogs on pet care.

Written by Gote Balciunaite

Gote joined our team for a week as part of her work experience. Gote goes to secondary school in Derby and hopes to become a vet.

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