Dogs have long been known to be man’s best friend. And we’re sure if dogs could speak, they wouldn’t hesitate to reciprocate the feeling. Dogs have all kinds of benefits that they provide to their owners, including unconditional love and affection, a listening ear, a purpose and responsibility, encouragement to their owners to be outside and active for playtime and walks, the list goes on.

Dogs can also help people overcome mental health issues, and provide emotional support and comfort to their owners. Dogs can be especially helpful for people dealing with PTSD and other emotional trouble that comes from traumatic experiences or lifestyles. While a dog can help alleviate the symptoms of PTSD, we at Peer Support Central believe that our peer support specialists can provide the best overall treatment for PTSD symptoms.

Differences Between Service and Emotional Support Dogs

When people think of dogs that help owners overcome difficulties, they usually think of service dogs. But service and emotional support dogs have very different roles in the lives of their owners. Service dogs are specially trained to do things that are not considered natural behavior for dogs, and are used to help their owners overcome disabilities. Most people associate service dogs with guide dogs for vision disabilities, but service dogs can also be trained to move objects out of the way if their owner is having a seizure, or alert someone with diabetes if their blood sugar is dangerously low. Service dogs must go through training, and are allowed almost anywhere their owner is allowed, regardless of whether or not an establishment allows pets.

An emotional support dog, on the contrary, does not need to be specially trained – but they can be depending on the needs of the owner. Emotional support dogs help owners with mental health issues by providing companionship and unconditional love. A normal pet can be an emotional support animal with a written letter from your doctor. While emotional support animals do not have the same permissions as service animals, occasionally they are allowed special privileges. For example, a landlord may allow an emotional support dog with a doctor’s approval even if they usually do not let pets in their property, or you may be able to have accommodation to fly with your emotional support dog.

How Can An Emotional Support Animal Help With PTSD?

Though we have talked a lot about dogs, emotional support companions can really be any animal, but are most commonly dogs and cats. If you live with PTSD, an emotional support pet can help deal with symptoms such as loneliness and anxiety. But, of course, there are things to take into consideration, and it is always best to talk with your doctor or family before getting an emotional support animal. Dogs need constant love and attention, and making sure you can safely provide that is key to a successful relationship with your pet. If you are seeking a new companion, be sure to research organizations that specially train and provide emotional support dogs. Attempting to train a dog yourself can cause even more stress, so if you don’t already have a dog, it might be best to go through professionals for this purpose. There is not much research specifically about emotional support dogs and PTSD, but dogs have been used to help those living with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and stress. It is important to remember that an emotional support dog is not a cure for PTSD, as they can only help alleviate some of the negative symptoms.

Peer Support For PTSD

While an emotional support dog or animal can help treat symptoms of PTSD, we believe the best treatment is with peer support. Peer support offers something that traditional therapy and emotional support animals cannot, and that’s the opportunity to speak with peers who can relate to the experiences you have been through and share their stories with you in turn. Find out how our Peer Support Central’s peer support program can help you.