Guest Post: Emotional Support Animals Vs Therapy Pets

Are you like me and thought you knew the difference between an emotional support animal and a therapy animal?  Upon doing some more in-depth research, I found that I did not know much if at all between the two.  Did you know that guinea pigs can be emotional support animals and therapy animals, talk about a win-win!

Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support animal is defined as a companion animal in which a doctor sees beneficial for someone with a disability.  Most emotional support animals are dogs, but there are other animals suited for this task also.

Did you know an animal doesn’t need the training to become an emotional support animal? I’d like to add that in recent years some courtrooms have provided emotional support dogs to those who’ve been on the stand to give a testimony; the dog is right there beside them providing comfort.

Most emotional support animals help a person that has anxiety and/or depression, but they’re not limited to those specific areas. Emotional support animals has even been proven in some cases to be more helpful than medication for depression/anxiety.

Therapy Animals

A therapy animal is defined as an animal that provides treatment for a person. Therapy animals also can be used in providing medical care, behavioral, and emotional care. Therapy animals can be in a wide variety of places such as nursing homes, prisons, schools, and libraries.

The most used animal for this type of task is a dog, but other animals such as cats, birds, and horses have been certified as ones too. The most important requirements are they like meeting new people and going new places. Therapy animals teams will also need to pass an evaluation.

Guinea Pigs

These little creatures are a compact way to provide comfort either as an emotional support animal or therapy animal. Speaking from personal experience, after my husband or myself would have a stressful day, just petting our boy guinea pigs would help. Guinea pigs can be very loving and entertaining, providing an excellent source of laughter and a feeling of well-being to a person.

To serve as a therapy animal, the guinea pig should remain as calm as possible without a nibbling session. Some handlers during sessions recommend the use of veggies or fruits as an incentive for the guinea pig. For a moment, a person interacting with a therapy guinea pig can forget what’s going on and just enjoy life.

Written by Nikki Harbeston, Creative Stuff, for LAA Pet Talk. She resides in South Carolina with her husband and dog. Her blog features Diary of a Chubby Piggie and Into the Journey of Dog. Copyright August 2013-March 2014.

If you are a pet owner with writing skills, Lincoln Animal Ambassadors would love to hear from you! We’re especially looking for content about birds, exotic animals, and horses. Content may take the form of an advice column or how-to articles. You may even simply wish to act as an expert consultant. If you are interested, please post in the comments and we’ll be in touch.


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