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Most Popular Emotional Support Pets and Their Benefits

7 min read

Emotional support animals can be a splendid addition to the standard treatment plan as they are our most loyal companions whom we can rely on in the toughest times of our life. Affection, companionship, unconditional love and non-judgmental attitude – this is what you can get from an ESA pet. Most importantly, emotional support pets can help you live through the hardships in your life and you can also gain access to many other spectacular benefits.

But can any type of animal become your ESA? And what are the most popular animals taken by people for this role? What benefits can each of them give you? To answer these and other questions, we’ll dig into details and find out what benefits each type of ESA pet can give you.

What’s the role of an ESA and why choosing the right pet is important?

Animal, pet and people concept - Smiling man in casual mustard t-shirt with his jack russell terrier
The role of ESA is to provide the needed psychological support to its owner

Before we clarify which animals are usually chosen by ESA owners and which ones can bring maximum benefit, it’s worth explaining what role the ESA pet can play in your life. 

So, what is an emotional support animal? In basic terms, it’s an assistance animal that helps its owner to fight the symptoms of a mental illness or psychological disability. Getting the ESA can be a life-changing choice as it can transform the way you live and perceive the world around you.

Unlike the rest of the assistance animals, the task of ESA pets is just to be a source of support, love and emotional comfort for their owners while no particular training is required.

Examples of mental disorders that you can handle with the ESA therapy include:

  • Anxiety
  • Emotional stress
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic attacks, etc.

But most importantly, it’s the choice of the right type of animal that can often make all the difference when you are trying to overcome one of these conditions. Let’s find out what types of pets are most popular among the ESA letter applicants and what changes they can bring into your life.

Can any animal become your ESA pet?

Someone took a snail in his hand
Any animal can become your ESA, though, the preference is given to domesticated animals

Theoretically, any type of animal can receive the status of the ESA if only it gives you emotional support and helps you combat stress and other mental abnormalities. But of course, there are certain rules to remember. Perhaps the most important thing here is to make sure the chosen pet:

  • Is a domesticated animal (in theory, a tiger or any other wild animal can also become your ESA but you might face problems when looking for a place to live or traveling with your pet)
  • Is approved by the licensed doctor before you’re given the ESA letter
  • Is manageable to make sure it behaves normally in public places
  • Isn’t a source of inconvenience to other people

Surely, you are not restricted by the choice of animals for the role of the ESA. Dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and small horses are not out of bounds for anyone who wants to get the ESA pet. And there are no age limits either, so getting a young animal wouldn’t be a problem.

Finding the right ESA pet to suit your needs: what are the most popular options?

All types of emotional support animals are supposed to give relief from the bothering symptoms of emotional disorders. And each particular animal should first be approved by the certified doctor whose duty is to walk you through the treatment course.

Of course, adding a pet to your home is a perfect way to overcome your emotional troubles and start a new page in life. But the truth is that some types of pets are more suitable for the role of your ESA, while others may not fit your individual needs and preferences. 

Just make sure you consider the benefits of each pet before you take one home. And don’t forget that it will be your responsibility to take good care of your new companion in return for all the support and love it gives you.

  • Dogs

Looking so sweet and full of hope. English cocker spaniel young dog is posing. Cute playful braun doggy or pet is sitting isolated on blue background.
With a dog, you have no chances to stay inactive or lonely

Dogs are universal creatures that play all kinds of roles in human life. In fact, they can take up the role of not just guide dogs, service dogs or therapy animals but also emotional support pets. What’s more, they are perhaps the most popular type of ESA as they are really good at mitigating the signs of depression, anxiety, and various other psychological problems.

Why choose a dog? The major benefit of taking a dog as the ESA is the fact that you’ll get a very loyal and friendly creature for a company and this may bring the right health effects in your situation. Dogs can also be easily trained to become obedient to their owners. And most importantly, having the dog at home is simply fun due to their well-natured character and exceptional friendliness.

  • Cats

Vexed Cat; mad kitten face
Cats are tender, fluffy, and extremely funny to play with

Feline species is another popular choice among ESA owners. You can choose any breed you want but be aware that not every airline accepts all cat breeds without exception because of the health and security risks.

So, what are the benefits of ESA cats? To mention a few, it’s worth getting a cat because:

  • Cats require less space than other animals like dogs
  • They are more independent so they require less attention or time spent together with their owners
  • Cats can stay happy even when they are left alone
  • Feline species enjoy playing and cuddling a lot
  • Some cat breeds can be really cute
  • All cats are usually rather affectionate.

If that sounds good to you, taking a cat for emotional support would be a great choice.

  • Birds

Monk parakeet is looking at camera with curiosity expression. Quaker parrot is sitting on mans shoulder at home.
Having a bird as an ESA is a trouble-free experience

Can a bird become your ESA? In fact, you can take any animal for this role and it’s definitely not illegal to make a bird your emotional support animal. On the other hand, you might have problems when traveling with the ESA bird simply because certain airlines tend to accept only dogs and cats as support animals.

But other than that, having a bird as your ESA will bring many important benefits such as:

  • Birds’ food isn’t too expensive so you won’t face unwanted costs.
  • You won’t need a lot of time to take good care of your ESA bird or to train it
  • They require a relatively small living area which is very convenient
  • They are mostly accepted by landlords when you want to rent housing.

And although birds can be a bit messy and noisy, they can make amazing ESAs as long as you love your new pet and are ready to take good care of it. Most importantly, the lifespan of certain types of birds sometimes exceeds that of humans. And this means you won’t have to deal with all the stress related to the loss of your pet. This is yet another reason why you might want to get the bird for the ESA role.

  • Rabbits

Easter bunny rabbit with pink painted egg on pink background.
Rabbits are happy to spend most of the time indoors, though, you can hardly cuddle it much

Rabbits are also a preferable option among those who want to get the companion animal. What makes them great pets is that they are not very demanding. You won’t spend much money on their food and they don’t require a lot of care. What’s more, you can keep them indoors all the time as there is no need to take them for a walk. And they can also be taught to use the toilet.

The only thing you might want to be cautious about is that rabbits don’t quite like it when you pick them up. That’s why cuddling or snuggling with your ESA rabbit is something you won’t be able to do regularly. And if you have kids at home, you should also teach them to handle the rabbit carefully.

But don’t be discouraged by these minor drawbacks because, for the most part, rabbits can make really perfect ESAs. They are lovely and look simply adorable. And, most importantly, they can give you the needed support when your spirits are low.

  • Guinea Pigs

hands feeding guinea pig
Guinea pigs do not require a spacious area; they are cute and lovely

These cute little creatures are also taken for the ESA role quite often and not without a reason. The benefits of having a guinea pig as your ESA are numerous. They don’t smell bad and are absolutely harmless so the risk of injury is minimal.

On top of it all, they don’t need a too spacious living area and they are modest enough not to bother anyone around. All these things prove that guinea pigs can become your best ever choice especially because they are really cute and lovely, and it’s always fun to spend time with them.

Key Takeaways

On the whole, you can get any animal you like for the role of the ESA as long as there is a visible therapeutic effect from owning the animal of your choice. And if you already have a pet, you probably know what amazing benefits the pet ownership can give you. That’s why you may choose a simpler route – to give your own pet the special status of your ESA.

Now that you know all about the benefits of the most popular types of ESA pets, you can make a well-informed and sound choice. No matter what animal you pick, just make sure it suits your needs and produces the right effect on your health.

Ready to take the ESA pet? Then check if you can get an ESA certificate and start changing your life for the better!

by GetESA

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