How a pet helps you during a panic attack

When you have a panic attack, it can feel like the world is crashing down.  Breathing becomes a struggle as the body takes control of the mind.  Many people that have an anxiety disorder have panic attacks.  Panic attacks are sudden feels of intense anxiety that is unprovoked.

Dogs, especially emotional support animals, can help their owners who have a panic attack disorder by providing a sense of calm and being a positive distraction.

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Pets can sense anxiety

Dogs have an incredibly acute sense of smell, they are able to sniff out changes in body chemistry, like adrenaline. Some dogs are trained to sense when their owner has a panic attack; others can do it naturally. Certain dog breeds are better at helping those with a panic disorder than others. Cats are also very in-tune with human emotions and are able to tell when you are having anxiety, especially if it is intense.


Pets increase the “feel good and “happy” hormone oxycontin in humans.  When you pet or cuddle your dog, cat, or other pet, your brain naturally releases oxycontin which helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. When you’re having a panic attack and start petting or cuddling your pet, as your brain releases oxycontin, it can combat cortisol, adrenaline, and other anxiety-hormones in your brain.


Panic attacks make it nearly impossible to think about anything other than the body and mind’s current state of anxiety and stress. Pets are the perfect distraction from anxiety. Someone who is having a panic attack can channel their focus on to their pet and try to focus on deep breathing. Whether you’re at home or out in public and are having a panic attack, it’s essential to have a way to calm down and focus quickly.


Panic disorders can make people feel isolated in alone. Anxiety and having panic attacks can be difficult to talk about. Pets offer their love and affection without any judgment. They never ask questions, but always show how much they care. Those who feel isolated from panic attacks benefit from having a pet who can offer companionship and support.

Emotional support animals

People who have been diagnosed (or are diagnosable) with a panic disorder and have a pet who helps them cope with the symptoms of the condition may be eligible to make their pet an emotional support animal.  ESAs are allowed to live in housing that does not allow pets. Landlords cannot discriminate and deny housing because of the ESA or charge a pet fee/pet deposit. ESAs are also permitted to fly with their owners in the aircraft cabin.

Panic attacks are a symptom of anxiety that can be isolating and difficult to cope with. Pets help improve the mental health and wellbeing of those who have a panic disorder and panic attacks. Pets like dogs and cats provide love and support. Some pets can even sense when a panic attack is happening and give their owner extra attention and help distract them from the panic attack. Do you suffer from panic attacks and think you qualify for an ESA? This website has great information about emotional  support animals.


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