Research shows that animals can help humans to deal with various mental and emotional issues. They provide support by offering affection and unconditional love. Emotional support animals are not like service animals as they do not receive any specific training. Their primary role is to give companionship and comfort.
Dogs and cats are commonly used as emotional support animals, but various other animals also qualify. Any domesticated animal can qualify as an ESA, but you need to think about which one will be best for you. Ideally, your ESA should suit your lifestyle and provide emotional relief rather than additional stress.
A cat as an ESA – low-key affection
A cat with the right personality will quickly form a bond with you and have a calming effect. An emotional support cat may not have the high energy or exuberance of a dog but has a low-key, affectionate nature.
Cats can decrease stress, lower blood pressure and help to reduce feelings of loneliness. They can improve mood, help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even help with certain phobias. To get an ESA letter so you can have your cat with you, even in housing where pets are not allowed, you must first be evaluated by a qualified health professional licensed in your state.
A dog as an ESA – many breeds with different characteristics
Dogs are generally strongly emotionally attached to their owners, and those of any age and breed can qualify as emotional support animals. However, some breeds are more suited to being ESAs than others. You want a dog that will be friendly to family, friends and strangers. Labradors are one of the gentlest breeds around. If you have budgetary constraints, a small breed will be more suitable than a large breed. Yorkshire terriers are tiny little dogs that don’t need that much space or exercise. They are great for those who live in apartments and can’t exercise much. They are also very affectionate and love physical contact.
Corgis are a stable, loyal and obedient breed. Floppy-eared Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are mellow, quiet and lovable dogs. A Pomeranian is the ultimate lap dog and bonds closely with humans. Golden Retrievers are loyal and lively. They are good ESAs for those who can offer them a moderate to a high amount of exercise.
A rabbit as an ESA – suited to apartment living
Rabbits are quiet, shy animals, so they are well suited for apartment living. They will not bother your neighbors by making loud noises. Certain breeds of rabbits have very loving natures, so you will bond easily with them. The Mini Rex is a small rabbit with a calm, friendly, and quiet nature. The Holland Lop is another friendly breed that doesn’t require space to roam. The Havana is a calm and gentle breed of rabbit that isn’t very active and is good at making bonds with humans.
Rabbits do not take up much space, so you don’t have to worry that your apartment is too small. They don’t need a backyard to run around in, and you can set up a litter box and food in specific places in your apartment. Rabbits also have a long life span, so they can offer support for a long time.
A bird as an ESA – intelligent, responsive and easy to care for
Birds can sense emotions like anger, stress and tension. They can help you to navigate feelings of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Parrots are empathetic and can imitate human sounds. They can sense the tension in human beings, and the phrases they learn and repeat can be soothing for those with anxiety. The time it takes to teach a parrot a phrase is a good form of engagement and gives you a task to focus on. You will feel a sense of accomplishment in teaching and building your own communication skills. A bird like a parrot does not have to be taken for walks like a dog and is easy to care for – a roomy cage that’s routinely cleaned and food and water is all they need.
A hamster as an ESA – good pets for students
A hamster is a tiny ball of fur that can have a soothing presence. Hamsters are often good pets for students as they occupy little space and are easy to take care of. Their cages and food are relatively inexpensive, so they are a good option for students who often have budgetary constraints.
Students are often under academic pressure and find it difficult to maintain balance in their lives. Having a hamster as a pet can offer them a welcome diversion without requiring too much effort. Stroking them and playing with them can help to relieve tension and anxiety.