October 13, 2023 3 min read

Emotional support dogs are scientifically proven to reduce stress and improve mental health. Many clinical studies support using emotional support animals to alleviate the symptoms of stress and other mental health conditions.


Research has shown that people feel more relaxed and less anxious when holding or petting an emotional support dog. They also experienced a normalized heart rate and blood pressure. If these health benefits come from the occasional visit with an ESA, imagine how a permanent companion could help ease the stress.


Moreover, interacting with a support animal can release feel-good hormones like oxytocin and reduce the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. Unfortunately, many people misunderstood ESA as a service animal. You must know their specified roles or the differences to make more informed decisions while choosing ESA for your health condition.


How Is An Emotional Support Dog Distinguished From A Service Dog?

According to the HUD or U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an emotional support dog is any animal that helps alleviate symptoms of a person’s disability through emotional support or companionship. They are not trained to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.

Under the ADA or The Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog is trained to do work or perform tasks to benefit an individual with a disability, including a physical disability.

Key Differences:


  • Do not require specialized training.
  • Protected under the Fair Housing Act.
  • Do not have the same level of public access rights as service dogs.


Service Animal:

  • Must be trained to perform tasks.
  • Protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act (FHA), and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).
  • Allowed in public spaces.



How an Emotional Support Dog Can Help With Stress

Emotional support dogs can provide valuable emotional and psychological support to stressed individuals. Here are several ways in which an emotional support dog can help with stress:

Improves your mood

When you are dealing with stress, it’s almost impossible to be in a happy mood. Emotional support dogs have a charm to make you happy. Their eye contact and lovely appearance will always warm your heart. Many people believe their stress levels are significantly reduced after interacting with the ESA. 


Offer unconditional love:

Emotional support dogs offer unconditional love even when situations are difficult. The thought of having a caring and nonjudgmental furry friend beside you can be beneficial for alleviating your stress level. The unconditional love of your dog can keep you happier and healthier.

Helps in controlling blood pressure:

Minor stressors can quickly become a significant medical problem if immediate intervention is unavailable. One effective way to manage hypertension in patients is with the assistance of emotional support dogs.

A person with ESA has lower cortisol and high oxytocin hormones, which are ideal for stress reduction and adequate blood pressure management. 


Emotional comfort:

The presence of an emotional support dog can offer emotional comfort and a sense of security to their owners. Their unconditional love and companionship can reduce loneliness and isolation, which are often associated with stress.



ESA owners are encouraged to engage in activities with their animals, which can provide a welcome distraction from stressors. Taking care of an ESA often requires establishing a routine for feeding, exercise, and grooming. This helps shift your mind away from problems, ultimately increasing your happiness.

Physical activity: 

Emotional support dogs require regular exercise. By walking or playing with dogs, your body releases endorphins, natural mood enhancers that can reduce stress and promote physical well-being.

Social interaction: 

By walking with your dog, you will meet new people daily. Interacting with others can enhance your social circle and reduce stress-related loneliness. Stress can isolate you from your social life, but an ESA can quickly rebuild your social life.

How Do We Leverage The Benefits Of Emotional Support Dogs To Alleviate Stress?

An ESA can be a part of a comprehensive stress treatment when recommended by a licensed mental health practitioner. Contact a licensed healthcare professional to add the ESA to the stress treatment plan. They will evaluate your medical conditions and your need for an emotional support dog.

After confirming your need and believing your stress level may be reduced with the help of ESA, they will write you an ESA letter. Use your ESA letter to live with your animal freely and legally. 


If you’re looking for natural therapy to reduce stress, you should consider owning an emotional support dog. Their unconditional love and mere presence always keep you happy and create a peaceful environment.