Dogs as Companion Animals in Canada

canada companion animal

About Companion, Emotional Support & Therapy Dogs

Companion dogs, emotional support dogs and therapy dogs are not technically service dogs.

What are Companion Dogs?

They provide comfort and coping assistance. While these functions hold health benefits for owners and hospitalised or institutionalised individuals, they are not directly related to a disability.

What About Service Dogs?

Service dogs fall under the category of working dogs and are trained to assist individuals with disabilities including intellectual, mental, physical, psychiatric and sensory disabilities.

Other Differences

Companion dogs may not enjoy the same level of access to public spaces as service dogs. In fact, they can be (and often are) very similar to family pets and seldom undergo the rigorous training that service dogs do.

Why They are Amazing

What really matters is how companion dogs can HELP humans. Here are some of the benefits of having, or spending time with, a companion dog:

Physiological Benefits

  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Reduces stress and lowers anxiety levels
  • Enhances hormone levels (more happy hormones; reduced levels of the stress hormone)
  • Enhances immune function

Psychological Benefits

  • Reduces depression and loneliness
  • Provides support for bereavement and illness
  • Provides a sense of purpose and responsibility

Social Benefits

  • Promotes mindfulness
  • Encourages social interaction
  • Attracts positive reactions from people

The National Companion Animal Coalition (NCAC), founded in 1996, promotes socially-responsible pet ownership and enhances the health and well-being of companion animals.

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