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Help! Is Your Emotional Support Animal Sick?

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Our beloved pets and emotional support animals (ESA) have a way of taking care of us each and every day. When the tables are turned, it’s up to us to take care of them when they aren’t feeling their best. The question is, how do you know whether or not your cherished companion is under the weather?

We have a few clues that could be signaling that your pet may be sick:

Changes in Behavior

No one knows your pet better than you. After all, you spend every day and night with your faithful friend. So when you notice changes in their behavior (even slight ones), don’t ignore them. Remember, you are your pet’s biggest advocate, and without your attention he or she could be in serious danger.

If your pet is showing any of the following signs, it’s a good idea to make a call to your vet:

  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Excessive whining or an unusual need for companionship
  • Excessive hunger or thirst (or a disinterest in food and drink)
  • Unusual bowel or urination habits
  • Panting
  • Agitation
  • Withdrawal
  • Growling when you approach them (this could be a sign of pain)
  • Drooling
  • Lameness
  • Any unusual behaviors for your pet (even if they may seem normal to other animals)

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ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!

Tummy Troubles

We all suffer from “tummy troubles” every once in a while and our pets will as well. But, if your pet is experiencing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pain, or bloating for more than 24 hours, it could be a sign that something more serious than a common digestive disturbance is to blame.

Neurological Problems

Emotional Support Animals work hard and sometimes they simply need a rest. However, what you first perceive as fatigue may really be the result of a neurological issue that needs attention.

If you notice nay of the following symptoms, call your vet right away:

  • Repetitive Circling
  • Snapping at the air
  • Twitching
  • Head Titling
  • Stumbling
  • Clumsiness

Trouble Breathing

The way an animal breathes can tell you a lot about how they are feeling. Sometimes changes in breathing patterns are very noticeable; other times you have decipher a slight, subtle change in order to discover a problem. So, what should we be on alert for?

  • Noisy breathing
  • Wheezing
  • A persistent cough
  • Labored breathing
  • Nasal discharge

The key to figuring out if your pet is sick is simply paying attention to even subtle changes in their mood, activity level, interests and (of course) physical signs. This would include cloudy eyes, lumps or bumps, vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

Pets work hard for us, and they deserves nothing less than your attention and loving care. Are you worried that your Emotional Support Animal may be sick? Depending on the severity, give them a day or two of rest and relaxation. If your pet is showing serious signs of discomfort and/or pain, please contact your vet right away.

Get Your ESA Today


Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.


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