Benefits of Having an Emotional Support Animal in College

By Kaitlin Hurtado on March 5, 2018

College can be one of the most rewarding, yet stressful, times for many students. While academics are the first thing to come up on the list of potential stressors – many students face multiple stressors in their daily life. It can be juggling multiple extracurriculars, trying to find time to spend time with family and friends, or figuring out if you’re going to have enough money to pay for rent every month.

There is a seemingly endless amount of potential stressors for college students, but there are also plenty of ways to cope with the stress that comes with college life. Your school has many resources dedicated to helping students cope with stress and take control of their mental health. One option that is growing more and more popular for college students is getting an emotional support dog to better their own mental health.

If you are considering different options for getting a handle on your mental health, here is how choosing to get an emotional support animal will benefit you and your mental health:

petting dog, hand, dog,

Photo by Pierre Fontaine on Unsplash

You will have a constant companion

The popular choices for emotional support animals are often dogs or cats – the former being more visible as college students are more likely to bring their dogs that are emotional support animals onto campus. Whatever type of emotional support animal you choose, they will constantly be by your side and ready to support you.

Even if you don’t have your emotional support animal with you all the time – like going to class or working a shift at your part-time job – you have someone to come home to at the end of the long day, which can make all the difference if you’re away from home for college and are prone to feeling lonely. Having an emotional support animal guarantees the presence of a companion to aid you through rough moments, which seem abundant when you’re at college.

An emotional support animal will help calm you down when you’re panicking before a big exam or job interview. Even settling down for a night of relaxation in front of your TV will be even better with a presence of an emotional support animal when you can spend the night absentmindedly petting or cuddling with your emotional support animal.

You will be encouraged to get up and be more active

This benefit will be more likely if you choose to have a dog as an emotional support animal. While the emotional support animal is to help you, you still have to take care of it like you would any other pet – you will have to make sure they get their daily dose of exercise and play time to keep them happy and healthy as well.

Taking your emotional support animal on a walk will encourage you to get out of your apartment for some fresh air, and even encourage you to socialize with other walkers as they comment on your emotional support animals or if your dogs approach each other. Taking the time out of your day to take a walk with your emotional support animal or play multiple games of fetch allows you to work towards daily exercise goals, which also help alleviate your mood and help your physical health.

You learn responsibility and get a sense of fulfillment

When you have an emotional support animal, you are also signing up to have a pet. You still need to take proper care of the animal, which is plenty of responsibility for a college student.

If it’s your first pet, there are going to be plenty of learning situations that you will face. Having to deal with your emotional support animal going to the bathroom at the wrong time or place. Knowing that you are the source of getting them fed properly. However, the responsibility of taking proper care of your emotional support animal will be worth it once you know that you are more than capable of handling such a big responsibility.

Having to take care of another animal will allow you to have a sense of purpose when you are the only one responsible for your emotional support animal. Focusing on taking proper care of your emotional support animal will help you shift your attention off of your stressors and onto more the more healthy topic of spending time taking care of your emotional support animal.

If you want a more natural way to better your mental health and physical health, having an emotional support animal may be the best option for improving your overall health in the stressful time of college. While the amount of responsibility that comes with getting an emotional support animal may seem initially daunting, the benefits of having an emotional support animal will help you combat the stressors in your life to become a healthier and happier person.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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