Support Animals for Cancer Patients

Animals such as dogs, cats, and other mammals have been proven to be very beneficial to cancer patients while they are undergoing treatment. Support animals can have physical, mental, and emotional benefits for lung cancer patients. Types of support animals include emotional support animals and service animals.

As you may be aware, mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused from exposure to asbestos that takes years to develop. After receiving any news of a cancer diagnosis, it can understandably wreak havoc on a person's mental health. That's why we wanted to make a guide on how to cope with a cancer diagnosis, and how we are mentally affected by it. Mesothelioma and Mental Health 

We also made a guide that outlines everything to know about Mesothelioma, which complements our other guide.


Benefits of Emotional Support Animals for Cancer Patients

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are meant to provide individuals with care and companionship for patients undergoing cancer treatment. The most common emotional support animals are dogs or cats.

Emotional support animals can:

  • Create an emotional connection during a difficult time
  • Distract a patient when they are in pain
  • Ease feelings of anxiety
  • Eliminate feelings of isolation
  • Keep patients occupied and eliminate boredom
  • Relieve symptoms of depression
  • Socialize patients who are unable to leave the house

The main goal of emotional support animals is to comfort patients and feel inspired to continue with cancer treatment even when they are discouraged or weak.

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How to Own a Support Animal

In order to own an emotional support animal:

According to Mental Health America, you must receive a prescription from a medical doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist showing you require the need for an emotional support animal. There is no special training required for a pet to be a certified emotional support animal.

Under the Fair Housing Act, ESAs are allowed to have their pet in their home even if the building has a policy banning pets and also bans any additional fees. ESAs may also be able to fly on planes with you for free. However, ESAs are not allowed in public places that do not allow pets.

In order to own a service dog:

You must receive written documentation from a healthcare provider that you require assistance from a service dog. Your dog must be trained to specifically relate and assist with your condition.

Service animals require in-depth training from professionals to become certified. Most service dogs are already trained by someone else to be service dogs for cancer patients. These rules can vary based on the state you live in, so it is important to talk to your doctor.

If you do not want to commit to owning an animal yourself, many cancer centers have therapy dog programs where trained dogs come visit patients getting treatment for 15-20 minutes to boost their mood.

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