Every day, millions of people live with depression, anxiety, or another mood disorder. When left unchecked, these conditions can impact every aspect of life. This is why emotional support animals are becoming increasingly popular; they provide a level of companionship that cannot be matched by even the closest human friend or relative. But should you get an emotional support animal?
Before you say yes, there are some things you should know first.
Emotional support animals do not cure mental illness. Virtually any person can provide this service to another person, so the term “service animal” is misleading. An emotional support animal does not come to the rescue of anyone else; he or she comes to relieve someone who is already suffering from a difficult circumstance with a mental disorder. The animal provides comfort and companionship and provides a release from the feelings that interrupt life’s normal flow. While this can be extremely beneficial, it is not a magical cure-all and does not moderate symptoms of depression or anxiety or other disorders in a permanent way.
We’ve collected ten of the most popular animals to work in this capacity and ranked them according to their suitability for different purposes.
1. The Dog
Dogs make capable emotional support animals due to their intelligence and need for attention. They have a tendency to be physically affectionate and are easy to train. However, dog anxiety is the number one reason why people choose not to adopt them as an emotional support animal (ESA).
2. The Cat
Cats make excellent pets for those who need an animal they can take care of on their own and might not be able to afford regular visits from an emotional support animal professional. They are generally low maintenance, unfazed by changes in their environment, and don’t require a lot of cleaning. Additionally, many cats enjoy having humans in their lives.
3. The Rabbit
Rabbits provide companionship through companionship; they’re well suited as an ESA for those with anxiety because they can be easily tamed and will provide constant social interaction throughout the day. That being said, rabbits are more prone to destructive behavior than most other animals because they’re continuously searching for food and they won’t give up that search in the case of an emergency.
4. The Parrot
Parrots make fantastic emotional support animals because they’re extremely interactive, tend to be very vocal, and are capable of learning a wide amount of new words as well as mimicking their owners when commanded. However; they need a lot of attention and can only be clean by vigorous scrubbing that many owners don’t have the time for.
5. The Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are incredibly easy to maintain and low upkeep, but they do require a lot of attention as they’re social animals. They’re not especially complicated to clean, although owners do need to take caution because they’re prone to teeth breaking out of their gums. They are friendly and timid by nature and aren’t likely to become destructive in the case of an emergency or other stressful situation.
6. The Hamster
Hamsters are intuitive and intelligent little creatures; they are social by nature and require constant attention from their owner. They’re clean and easy to take care of, but their small size means that they are more susceptible to stress than other animals. It is not advised to take your hamster out in public as it might bite someone if it feels threatened or territorial.
7. The Hedgehog
Hedgehogs aren’t the most physically affectionate emotional support animal, but they are ideal for those with allergies or asthma as they emit a natural vapor to repel dirt and dust mites. Additionally, their dry, prickly nature means that they are more difficult to clean than other animals on this list. They can be difficult to house train and don’t take well to change in their environment, so be wary if you’re planning on relocating somewhere new with your hedgehog.
8. The Mouse
Mice are intelligent little creatures; they can easily be trained and small enough to transport around in the pockets of your clothing. However, they have a tendency to chew their cage material and their society size makes them susceptible to stress. Mice are difficult to clean because they accidentally bite and will aggressively carry on fighting when captured, making them the wrong choice for those who suffer from clumsiness.
9. The Ferret
Ferrets are extremely intelligent and playful emotional support animals; they are a must if your job requires a lot of patience as they make great stress relievers. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a building that allows them in due to laws that prevent them from being kept as pets. They’re not suited for individuals with allergies or asthma either, as they produce musk through glands in their skin.
10. The Pig
Pigs make great emotional support animals for those who suffer from anxiety or depression because they provide physical affection that is rare in other animals. However; they need to be trained early in life or else their lack of personal boundaries will make them difficult to live with as an adult. Additionally; pig anxiety disorder is common among owners who are unable to clean up after their pigs properly.
Emotional support animals are a great way to manage your anxiety and depression away from home, but there are a number of considerations that must be made before rushing out and buying one. The first step is to speak with your doctor or therapist about the possibility of living with an ESA. They’ll be able to tell you if you’re a good candidate for the program and help you decide which animals will best fit into your daily routine. From there, you can begin your search for an emotional support animal professional who will assist you in acquiring all of the necessary paperwork and help you correctly register your pet for traveling purposes. Once you have your ESA; remember to be respectful of other people who may be allergic or not fond of animals, and make sure that you take the necessary precautions when taking your pet outside. Remember, your best friend can become an ESA as long as you agree to make a few sacrifices while living together.
If you are interested in an emotional support dog, there are many resources available on the Internet that can help you locate one. There is also a general guide for emotional support animal laws that might help you learn what it takes to own one legally. While there are pros and cons to owning an ESA dog, it can be rewarding for those who suffer from chronic anxiety or depression.