Hidden Disabilities: Emotional Support Animals

a man holds the paw of the dog in the Park in the summer at sunset. the concept of friendship, teamwork, love.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is any animal that can benefit its owner by offering support and companionship to help them navigate life with any type of disability, particularly hidden disabilities, such as a stoma. Most often, ESA’s are dogs, but cats are common too. 

It’s not as commonly known that people living with less visible disabilities, like a stoma, can also significantly benefit from an emotional support animal (ESA). Today, we’ll explore how this often-overlooked type of assistance can greatly enhance the life of someone living with a hidden disability.

A stoma can be a life-altering experience for many. It can be an outcome of conditions like cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and other digestive or urinary system diseases. The physical impact is one aspect, but the emotional toll often remains unseen and unspoken, with individuals sometimes experiencing feelings of embarrassment, depression, and isolation.

Emotional support animals can make a tremendous difference to those grappling with the emotional and psychological aftermath of such life changes. ESAs are animals that provide comfort, companionship, and emotional support to their owners. They are not specially trained like service animals, but their mere presence can have a therapeutic effect on individuals dealing with emotional distress.

How can an Emotional Support Animal help?

Here are some ways in which having an emotional support animal can enhance the life of a an ostomate:

  • One of the most apparent benefits of ESAs is companionship. These animals provide a constant, loyal presence, helping their owners feel less alone in their struggles. They’re there to greet you in the morning, to keep you company through the day, and to offer silent but potent support when things feel overwhelming.
  • Having a stoma can often lead to anxiety and depression. The companionship of an ESA can help reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Petting or cuddling an animal has been proven to lower stress levels, decrease blood pressure, and elevate mood.
  • Depending on the type of animal, an ESA can also encourage regular physical activity. Dogs, for instance, need to be walked regularly, which can motivate their owners to exercise as well. Regular exercise can have a positive impact on overall health and wellbeing.

The difference between an ESA and an assistance dog is crucial: Unlike the USA, emotional support animals are not legally recognised in the UK at the present time, and owning one will not automatically guarantee the special dispensations expected for guide dogs or hearing dogs. This means it’s up to the business owner’s discretion if you can bring your dog into their premises. 

The presence of an emotional support animal can be an incredible source of comfort and companionship for those living with hidden disabilities like a stoma. Whether offering a calming presence in times of stress, encouraging regular physical activity, or simply being a reliable companion in various public spaces, an ESA can make a world of difference in managing the emotional challenges that come with such conditions. 

To find out more, visit ESA Hidden Disability Support Animals 


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