Pets provide many benefits for their owners. For example, dogs can motivate people to exercise and provide loyal companionship. For some people, their furry companions go a step further by helping them with day-to-day functioning. Emotional support animals (ESAs) are prescribed by mental health professionals for individuals with a mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, to help handle challenges that compromise their quality of life. If you’re welcoming home a newly adopted ESA, take the time to pet-proof your home and yard, work on bonding, and help your companion animal adjust to his new home.
Pet-Proofing Your Home
Animals are curious by nature, so before bringing your ESA home, go through your house room by room to ensure it’s properly pet-proofed. Try to look at everything from an animal’s perspective. Items that can be dangerous to animals should be secured, removed, or placed out of reach. Small spaces, nooks, or holes should be blocked in every room.
Kitchens and bathrooms can be full of items that are unsafe. Put latches or locks on all cabinets, no matter what’s inside. Medications, cleaning and laundry supplies, and other chemicals are obvious dangers. Certain foods can bedangerous for animals, even if they’re healthy for humans, including avocados, garlic, grapes, and walnuts. Even if the food is safe for animals, the food’s wrappers, seeds, or pits can be harmful. Trash cans need secure lids to prevent animals from accessing choking hazards or poisons in the trash. Also, keep the toilet lid closed at all times.
Dangling wires or cords from lamps, blinds, televisions, computers, and other electronics should be secured or placed out of reach. Put covers on heating/air vents, and keep laundry, shoes, toys, and games off the floor. You’re not just concerned with an animal ruining your belongings; drawstrings, buttons, and other small items can cause major issues if swallowed. Also, check to see if any of your houseplants are poisonous to animals.
Pet-Proofing Your Garage and Yard
Garages and yards can present dangers to animals too. Many garages store chemicals that are lethal to animals, such as antifreeze, gasoline, battery acids, pesticides, and more. Sharp objects and tools can also be dangerous, such as screws and nuts. These items should be placed on high shelves or behind secure doors.
A fence can keep stray animals out and companion animals in, so consider installing one around your yard. A less expensive option is to create a smaller, fenced-off area specifically for your ESA. Outdoor plants can be poisonous to animals, so review plants in your yard, and always check before planting anything new.
Fertilizers, pesticides, mulch, and compost can be hazardous. Install a barrier around gardens to keep companion animals out, and store chemicals safely in a garage or an enclosed shed. Fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, pools, and ponds can also be dangerous. Add fencing around pools and ponds, and never leave animals alone when fires are burning.
Bonding and Adjusting
While some animals will adjust to a new home in just a few hours, others may need a month or longer before they feel at home. Research what behaviors to expect from your ESA’s species and breed, stay in touch with your veterinarian, and pay attention to your animal’s needs. “Patience can go a long way in helping your new pet feel at home with you and your family,” says Martha Stewart Living.
Be careful not to overwhelm an animal. Let him come to you, be attentive to body language, and give him more time if necessary. Too many visitors too soon can frighten new animals, so wait a few days before introducing your ESA to friends and family members who reside outside of your home. Ensure your ESA is comfortable by providing special beds, crates, and toys just for him. Any activity you do with your companion animal will help strengthen your bond, including exercise, playtime, feeding, training, and grooming.
An ESA can be a critical component of staying in good mental health for many individuals who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other psychiatric problems. Even though your ESA’s role is to help you with your health condition, it’s your ESA that will need support at first. Planning ahead ensures your ESA has a smooth transition into your new home, and ensures he is safe and comfortable.
Article Submitted By Jessica Brody.Ms. Brody believes dogs are the best creatures on earth. She enjoys writing about and sharing photos of dogs (and other pets!) on her website Ourbestfriends.pet.