You may have heard about the growing trend, particularly in America, of emotional support pets.  

Now, anybody with a dog knows the emotional connection, warmth, love and support that radiates from a dog is one of the greatest sources of unconditional love and soothing there is.  However, is this new classification of emotional support pets going a bit too far?

Interestingly, it would appear we can innately relate to this concept of using pets as emotional crutches to help us cope in an otherwise cold world, and this is particularly the case for people suffering with homelessness - as often their emotional attachment with their dog is the only love and affection they receive.

Essentially, we can all see how emotionally supportive pets such as dogs can be, but with the trend now being to have animals such as hedgehogs as ‘emotional support’ pets, one surely has to question how much emotional support could a hedgehog genuinely provide!

The majority of readers won’t have much experience with regard to pet hedgehogs, but it’s reasonable that most people wouldn’t consider a hedgehog to be the animal you would want to cuddle up with in bed after a long day at work, or whilst watching a tear-jerker following a break-up.

Therefore, is this trend akin to a fashionable pet pandemic such as the celebrity miniature dogs that are now carted around the world like trophies, or is there something more to this, that can genuinely help people manage their emotional health better?

The pessimist, of course, might consider the notion of emotional support pets to be an inventive way to sneak your beloved dog into your favourite bar, hotel, or restaurant... but for many people that suffer with anxiety problems the idea of receiving the unconditional love of their dog in challenging situations is of great comfort.

Anyone that grew up with a dog can relate to the level of unconditional love and affection that is on call all the time.  

The fact they can be so sensitive and connected to our emotions would make sense that pets such as dogs and cats can provide emotional support, but surely, when it comes to nervous flyers taking their emotional support hedgehogs onboard has the world not just gone a bit mad?

That said, it’s important to recognise the healing power of pets, irrespective of their genre, as pets do have a positive impact on our emotional and physical health… perhaps not to the point that we no longer need to rely on healthcare innovations such as Maestro Advantage or visiting the doctor to discuss our health condition, but there certainly does appear to be a scientific foundation underpinning this new phenomenon.

The benefits of petting a cat or dog, for instance, can lead to huge improvements in your wellbeing; as engaging in this tactile interaction has been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower stress, improve depression and elevate mood in both pet and owner.

There is the question, of course, as to whether this is even a new phenomenon.  

Afterall, have we not always depended on our pets for stress relief and emotional support; is it perhaps that today we are just at a place in society where we are starting to accept and recognise something that’s been happening all along?