Explore our collection of articles covering pet care, training, and how to make your pet an emotional support animal. Get expert insights on everything from basic pet care to turning your companion into an ESA, all in one place.
Pets are an important part of the family. Our furry friends bring us unparalleled comfort and joy and undoubtedly, we want the best for them. Being a good pet owner means committing to keeping our animals healthy and happy. It involves giving them the right food and medical care as well as enough engagement, mental stimulation, and physical activity.
From feeding them correctly to taking them for regular veterinary checks, caring for a pet entails a huge amount of dedication and responsibility. It’s also a super rewarding relationship that will fill your life with oodles of love and affection.
How to Take Care of Pets
In this section, we will explore everything you need to know about taking care of your pets.
What Can I Feed My Pets?
Feeding your animals a high-quality diet is essential for their health.
Different pets need different foods. What you feed a rabbit, for example, will differ dramatically from what you feed a dog or a snake. As such, it is always best to speak to your veterinarian and ask them about the best, most nutritional food for the specific species and breed.
There are many choices when it comes to feeding pet dogs. Canine diets should be well-balanced, and nutritionally dense, and the amount you feed your pet will depend on the type of food and the animal’s weight. Options for dog owners include:
- A mixture of kibble and wet food
- A mixture of kibble and meats and vegetables
- Raw food (ensure this has been specially formulated by a veterinary nutritionist to ensure it’s properly balanced and free from food-borne disease and bacteria)
It’s vital to feed according to your animal's weight as obesity in dogs can cause many health concerns down the line. By the same token, under-feeding can also cause health problems and as such, it is important to weigh your dog and feed them the recommended amount stipulated by the food supplier.
What Medicine is Safe for Pets?
Much like food, different medications will be safe for different species. It is imperative to take your animal for regular veterinary consultations.
As Dr. Shermaine Wilson Cox shares:
“Regular veterinary visits will allow veterinarians to prevent disease or provide early treatment if problems arise.”
Vet visits can prevent disease or catch problems before they cause havoc. Vets will dispense the appropriate medication for the specific ailment. Routine visits also allow pet owners to ensure that their animal’s vaccinations are up to date and allow vets to check the animal's weight, dental health, and overall condition.
Never medicate your pet without consulting a qualified vet first and always give them the medication exactly as directed.
Ideally, it is worth looking into pet insurance to safeguard against unexpected - and costly - medical problems.
Benefits of Having a Pet
Any pet owner knows just how much joy our furry friends bring us but did you know that they can also offer significant health benefits to their humans? Advantages of caring for a pet include:
- They provide huge amounts of comfort and love
- They create a healthy and positive routine for owners
- They can reduce feelings of anxiety and loneliness
- They can reduce stress by lowering stress hormone levels and promoting happy hormones
- They offer owners opportunities to move their bodies and get outside which has a dramatic impact on mental and physical health
- They offer more opportunities for owners to socialize (for example, on dog walks)
Choosing a breed and species depends on many factors and owners should ask themselves the following questions before investing in an animal.
- How long might the animal live and can I commit to owning and caring for them for the duration of their life?
- How large will the animal become and do I have the space?
- Do I have the resources to afford adequate veterinary care and food costs?
- Do I have the time to properly care for them and invest in their training?
- Can I commit to the animal's exercise/engagement needs?
- Will the animal integrate with other family members and other animals?
How to Train Your Pet
Training your pet is a huge part of being a responsible pet owner. Training animals like dogs keeps them safe, well-socialized, and responsive to your cues. Training is best done alongside a qualified animal trainer who can equip you with the right knowledge and skills to communicate with your dog. There are both online and in-person options, depending on your needs.
Online Dog Training
Online dog training is a fantastic option for pet owners who want to master the basics. There are great perks when it comes to online classes, including:
- Greater flexibility
- More cost-effective
- Self-paced learning
- Zero travel time
- Better suited for dogs who get overstimulated in new environments
- Accessible for the entire family
Pettable Academy’s online classes consist of two video-based programs with a certified trainer, Lisa Gallegos, CPDT-KA. The first series is called Puppy Kindergarten. This program runs over 13 videos and ensures that your puppy learns positive behaviors from the get-go. The classes focus on puppy training, teething, and puppy-proofing your home.
The next program is Focus Training which runs over 17 lessons and focuses on basic commands, obedience training, and improving manners.
Dog Obedience Training
Obedience classes teach your pup basic obedience and manners. They will learn important commands such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘leave it’, and ‘lie down.’ They will also learn good manners, including how to greet other people and dogs respectively and how to walk properly on a leash.
More advanced obedience training focuses on recall so that pups can walk off leash and come back to owners when called. Owners might also look into more advanced training options like agility if their dog has a particular affinity to training.
Puppy training instills positive behaviors in your pup from the get-go and teaches them basic manners and potty skills. It's important to think about how you will train your dog from an early age as that is when they are most receptive to learning new things. Bringing a new puppy into your life can be stressful but if you are equipped with the right knowledge and tools you can set up your furry friend to be a well behaved adult.
Pet owners, or those with emotional support animals (ESAs) often wonder where they can take their pets. Let’s explore some pet-friendly establishments and those that only allow service animals.
Pets can join owners at pet-friendly establishments. Always call in advance to check their pet policy and avoid disappointment. If you can’t take your pet along, consider asking a trusted friend to watch them while you’re away.
List of Pet-Friendly Stores
While all stores in the US allow service animals, pet animals, and ESAs are only allowed in pet-friendly stores. These include:
- The Apple Store (most stores)
- Bass Pro Shops
- Home Depot (some stores)
- Macy’s (some stores)
- Pottery Barn (most stores)
- TJ Maxx
- Tractor Supply Co
Some independent cafes, restaurants, and stores might also allow pups, but always call them to check beforehand
Pet-Friendly National Parks
All national parks allow service animals as per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many others allow leashed, well-behaved dogs on certain hiking trails or developed areas. These parks include:
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri
- Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
- New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, West Virginia
- Olympic National Park, Washington
- Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
- White Sands National Park, New Mexico
- Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
- Yosemite National Park, California
Places You Can’t Take Your Pet
Unfortunately, not all establishments are pet friendly, unless you have a service animal. Generally speaking, pets and ESAs are not allowed in:
- Grocery stores
Can I Take My Pet on an Airplane
Pets are allowed on certain airlines, however, this is at the discretion of the airline. Many airlines have weight and breed restrictions when it comes to pet animals and emotional support animals. Oftentimes, owners will have to pay an additional fee for their pets to travel. Some smaller animals will be allowed in the cabin in a special animal carrier that fits below the seat in front. Larger animals will often have to fly in the hold.
Service Dogs on Airplanes
All service dogs and psychiatric service dogs (PSD) are allowed on airplanes as per the ADA. Under this act, airlines must make reasonable accommodations for service dogs and allow them to travel in the cabin with their handler. According to the ADA, service animals must be trained to perform a specific disability-related task that helps their owner to function.
Can I Take My Pet to a Hotel?
Yes. Pets and emotional support animals are allowed at animal-friendly hotels. However, many hotels choose not to allow pets or charge an extra fee so it is advisable to research thoroughly and contact the hotel prior to bringing your pet or an emotional support animal along with you. Service dogs, as per the ADA are allowed in any public area where humans are permitted, including hotels that are not pet-friendly.
Can I Take My Pet to an Airbnb?
Pet-friendly Airbnbs will welcome pet animals and ESAs. Airbnb allows you to filter their available accommodations by whether they are pet friendly or not, so using this tool can make the process of finding a holiday stay significantly more straightforward. Be sure to get in touch with your Airbnb host as soon as possible to let them know you will be bringing a pet along and learn more about any specific rules they have ahead of time. As per ADA, all service dogs are allowed in Airbnb rentals, regardless of their pet policies.
Any pet can be an emotional support animal (ESA) if it offers you support and companionship, alleviating conditions of a mental health disability. The process for making your pet an ESA is simple. You need to meet with a licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP) and have them write you an official ESA letter. This is an official document where the medical practitioner confirms that the owner has a valid mental health condition that benefits from the presence of an ESA.
What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?
An emotional support animal is any domestic species of animal whose presence brings its owner comfort and support. These animals can alleviate the symptoms of mental health conditions - such as anxiety and depression - by offering unconditional love, routine, and companionship. Emotional support animals, unlike service animals, do not require any formal training. The only requirement for getting an ESA is having a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) confirm your mental health condition and therefore your need for an emotional support animal. If an LMHP is able to do this, they will write you a document called an ESA letter that confirms your pet's ESA status.
What Animals can be Emotional Support Animals?
Any legal domestic breed of animal can be an ESA. Popular emotional support animals include:
- Guinea Pigs
- Miniature horses
Regardless of what pet you have, if it assists you with a mental health condition you should speak with a mental health professional in your state to determine your qualification and receive a legitimate ESA letter.
What is the Benefit of an Emotional Support Animal?
There are two main benefits of having an emotional support animal that can be crucial for someone with a mental health disability and significantly improve their quality of life:
- Emotional support animals provide comfort, routine, and companionship which can alleviate symptoms of a mental health disability.
- Due to the Fair Housing Act, emotional support animals are protected under federal law. As a result, legitimate emotional support animals are allowed to live in private housing regardless of "no pet" policies. Landlords are required to recognize ESA letters and provide reasonable accommodations.
How to Make Your Pet an Emotional Support Animal
If your pet provides comfort and helps you handle your mental health condition by providing therapeutic benefits, they are an ESA, but an ESA letter is needed to legitimize this role. In order to get an emotional support animal (ESA) letter you need to take the following steps:
1. Consult with a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) in Your State
The LMHP will determine whether or not you have a mental disability that qualifies for an emotional support animal, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. They will also need to confirm that having an emotional support animal helps alleviate the symptoms of your mental health condition.
2. Receive Your ESA Letter
The ESA letter issued to you by the LMHP will now be the document that confirms your pet as an emotional support animal. The letter needs to contain the LMHPs information, and signature, and confirm that you have a mental health condition (not specifying the precise diagnosis for your privacy) and that your ESA helps alleviate symptoms of that disability.
3. Present the ESA Letter to your Landlord
The final step is to present your landlord with your legitimate ESA letter, after which they will be required to offer reasonable accommodation allowing you to live with your pet, exempt from pet fees or restrictions. The landlord may only deny the accommodation if accepting your pet would cause undue financial hardship or present a threat to other tenants.
Be Wary of Illegitimate ESA Letter Providers
Additionally, make sure to steer clear of ESA letter providers whose practices do not line up with the regulations set forward in the Fair Housing Act or the above 3-step process. Any provider that does not offer a consultation with a mental health professional, requires you to "register" your ESA, or sells ESA vests & ID tags do not satisfy the requirements for a legitimate emotional support animal, and is essentially a scam.
What is an ESA Letter?
An ESA letter is an official letter written by an LMHP within a person’s home state. Much like a medical prescription, it highlights that the patient needs the ESA to function and confirms that they have a valid mental health condition that benefits from the ESA's presence. These letters can be shown to housing providers, under the Fair Housing Act, to ensure that they do not unfairly discriminate against ESAs.
Service Dogs vs. Emotional Support Animals
Both ESAs and service animals provide huge therapeutic support. However, service animals are specifically trained to perform a disability function. For example, retrieving objects for a blind owner or alerting a handler with post-traumatic stress disorder about an oncoming panic attack. ESAsm while hugely comforting and therapeutic, provide comfort with their presence rather than performing a specific task.