A dog and a cat are lying on a white background.

What Is the Best Emotional Support Pet for Lazy Owners?

7 min read

Caring for an emotional support animal (ESA) is no walk in the park – no pun intended. The sense of responsibility required to properly care for a pet is always the one objection parents tend to raise when a child starts asking for a puppy for Christmas. The time and effort required to look after a furry companion get even more demanding with age, and for individuals struggling with mental health issues, these challenges can often feel unsurmountable. This can become an issue when looking after high-maintenance dogs for example, as their outdoor playtime needs can quickly get too much to cater to for an emotionally overwhelmed, or simply lazy owner. This type of neglect is enough to get your ESA letter taken away. Individuals who are looking to adopt an emotional support pet should weigh all their options with care before committing to a decision – after all, a pet is for life.

So, what is the best emotional support pet for lazy owners? Here we list the most popular pets used for emotional support and rate them in terms of care required for them, and yourself, to thrive.

  1. Fish

A woman is feeding fish.
Fish is one of the most low-maintenance ESA animals to take care of.

Get a goldfish! It might be a stereotype, but fish is, without a doubt, the most low-maintenance emotional support pet to care for. Of course, fish need to be fed regularly and live in an appropriate habitat – aquariums need to be kept clean and spacious enough for a fish to grow.

The biggest responsibility for a fish owner is making sure your pet’s aquarium is cleaned regularly and thoroughly, meaning that you cannot just forget about it once your pet is all settled in its new home. Fish tank cleanings are an absolute must, as your fish might die if its living space is not completely emptied and the water replaced every month.

Many fish owners also make the mistake of overfeeding their pets. The general rule of thumb is that your fish should only eat once or twice per day, and only be fed what it can manage to eat in two or three minutes. Goldfish are the easiest to care for in this aspect, as they can go as long as two weeks without food (although of course this is not recommended).

Despite fish tank maintenance and feeding requirements, fish can be considered the most low-maintenance pet a lazy owner can have, even though not necessarily the most affectionate.

  1. Small birds

A little parrot is walking on the floor.
Much like fish, birds are incredibly easy to care for.

They require tall, spacious cages to thrive, generally needing cages twice as wide as their wingspan. Precise diet requirements depend on the species, however all birds should be fed with appropriate seeds daily, with constant water replacements. 

Few people are aware that birds are actually very social animals, so having more than one companion is necessary in order to make your bird as happy and stress-free as it can be. We wouldn’t recommend getting only one bird, so if that is bound to become too challenging for some owners, fish might be a better ESA option. Birds can certainly show affection in their own way, but their subtle ways might not be what most are craving for emotional support.

If love and affection are what you are looking for in your ESA, the next type of pet we recommend in this list might be the right choice for you! 

  1. Hamsters, Guinea Pigs, Mice, and Rats

Tiny hamsters are eating carrot in a cage.
Hamsters are popular for the ease of care that they need.

These rodents are another childhood pet favorite, as they are easy enough to care for, but also able to display affection to their owner. Hamsters are generally considered extremely easy to care for and handle, as their requirements are limited to small to medium-sized cages, abundant fresh water, and feed rations always filling their bowl. Guinea pigs have the same requirements, with the exception of needing a bigger cage to accommodate their size and more regular grooming. Weekly deep-cleaning of your companion’s cage is always a must, but it can be less time-consuming than fully cleaning a fish tank or a bird’s cage.

Mice and rats, the most fun-loving and affectionate rodents, come last on our list as they are extremely social animals. A lonely mouse is a mouse in distress, but similarly to birds, having to care for more than one animal might be too much for some owners.

Another reason why caring for a rodent might become challenging is that they tend to develop illnesses often, not living for more than two years. This means that you should pay close attention to their eating habits and activity levels at all times, and prepare for frequents visits to the vet.

Do not forget however that you need to give your little friend some protein products from time to time. A chicken egg or low-fat cottage cheese are well suited. These guys are usually not washed. In some cases, you can put a container of sand in the cage. In addition, drafts are very dangerous for these pets. The cage should not be placed in any drafty zone. Hamsters and mice can get diabetes, therefore it is not recommended to give them products with a high content of monosaccharides, such as tomatoes, dried fruits, bananas, melon, strawberries or pumpkins.

  1. Cats

A cat is sitting on the table next to the woman.
Cats are very intelligent animals and they will not bare complete neglect.

Cats are an introvert’s dream pet. Fiercely independent, your feline friend will usually cater to its own needs, and it will be content as long as there is abundant food in its bowl. So, does this mean you can just forget about it? Not quite. The fact that cats don’t need to be walked as dogs do doesn’t mean they can be labeled as low-maintenance pets.

Cats are incredibly complex and intelligent animals, prone to stress, anger, and anxiety when their need for enrichment is neglected. A cat that frequently acts out is not easy to handle; it can quickly become destructive to its environment or even aggressive towards its owner when not stimulated, groomed, or fed a varied diet. Cats are also prone to frequent urinary tract and bladder infections, which can be painful and expensive to treat, while also requiring vaccination. 

A feline companion won’t need to be looked after with the same attention as a pup, but you have to make sure its stress levels are kept as low as possible. You can do this by making sure they are comfortable in their environment (a cat might never get along with another cat, dog, or even child), have toys that stimulate their natural hunting instincts, and a diet that they truly enjoy – cats can be very fussy with food! 

  1. Apartment dogs

A cute yorkshire terrier dog is covered with plaid on the sofa.
Small dogs are often called apartment pets, however, you can have them in a house as well.

Lower-maintenance, small dog breeds are usually referred to as “apartment dogs”. Now, we are all aware of a dog’s need for outdoor playtime, regular exercise, and frequent grooming, no matter the size or breed. There is no such thing as a maintenance-free dog.

However, some breeds don’t require as much time running and playing outdoors, and can be content staying indoors for a whole day. Some examples are Chihuahuas, Greyhounds, French Bulldogs, and Dachshunds. What these breeds have in common is that they all have minimal grooming needs, lower energy, and lower exercise needs. Potential owners should be aware, however, that as with all other pure breeds, they are extremely likely to develop health issues during their lifetime. Regular trips to the vet and careful monitoring of their overall health is vital to ensure your pet can live a long, fulfilled life. Chihuahuas and Dachshunds are also well-known for their fiery temperament, making them high-maintenance pets for owners who lack the patience and time needed to train a stubborn dog.

On the other hand, you should avoid puppies of any breed, as their high energy and their training requirements can take a toll on owners who can’t spare time for the commitment.

The bottom line is that owning a dog is usually not suitable for a lazy owner.

What is the right emotional support pet for you?

There is a reason why dogs make the top of the list as the most popular emotional support animals; nothing compares to the devotion and loving companionship a dog can give to its owner. Still, you should be aware of their often-demanding maintenance needs, as well as the specific needs of all types of pets, before deciding that owning an ESA is the right fit for your lifestyle.

Whether you are too lazy, too busy, or too emotionally distraught to care for a pet to the best of your ability, your decision to adopt an emotional support companion should not be taken lightly. Hopefully, this guide has served as a blueprint to assess which pet is just the perfect one for you

by GetESA

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