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The 10 Best Emotional Support Animals.

Updated on April 25, 2024 by Lisa Tevis
Robert Clendenin MD
Medically Reviewed by
Robert Clendenin, MD
An emotional support animal is any animal that provides support or comfort to an individual through companionship. They have various therapeutic and psychiatric benefits and are great for people suffering from mental health conditions. An emotional support animal aids in reducing anxiety issues, alleviating loneliness, enhancing social engagement, relieving pain, lowering stress, and boosting pleasure.
ESA can genuinely alter the way you perceive the world! While all animals can become emotional support animals, certain have excelled in this role. In this blog, we have compiled a list of the 10 best Emotional Support Animals that can be your perfect partner in the journey of mental well-being.
10 best emotional support animals

Selection of Best Emotional Support Animals.

People sometimes assume that only dogs and cats can become an emotional support animal. While dogs and cats are the most commonly chosen ESAs, it is essential to note that any animal, including dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, and even birds, can become an ESA.
However, when choosing an emotional support animal, one must undergo detailed selection criteria and consider factors such as temperament, size, and ease of care. An individual must understand that an emotional support animal is not just a therapeutic tool but also a pet. Therefore, it is crucial to choose an ESA after analyzing several factors regarding the animal.

Some animals are more suited than others. However, there is no one best species for everyone. Different species may be suited for different individuals depending on their needs, personalities, residence, etc. Thus, we have curated some essential selection criteria that can help you find the best emotional support animal for yourself.

Factors to consider while choosing ESA

Temperament of the ESA

Selecting the right breed of emotional support animal can be a complete game changer. Hence, an individual shall look for an emotional support animal that is calm and not easily agitated. This calmness often helps to alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression in the handler. An aggressive or agitated ESA not only poses a risk to others but can also add to your anxiety and stress levels. Therefore, the individuals must seek out a breed that matches their requirements.

Energy levels of the ESA

Analysis of the energy levels of the emotional support animal is often an overlooked factor. The amount of energy that an animal requires for their daily mental and physical stimulus may vary from breed to breed. So, the individual must choose the breed according to their physical strengths and routine so that an ESA can easily be part of their life without any hassle.

Size of an ESA

Choosing an ESA based on size may seem strange, but it is essential, especially when living in an accommodation where space can be an issue for some larger-sized breeds.Moreover, overactive breeds may require more space. So, it is essential to understand that though an ESA is for the individual’s mental well-being, it is also necessary to consider their needs as well.

Maintenance of ESA

Among the factors you need to consider while choosing an ESA breed, the maintenance of the ESA is essential, as several breeds may need much more maintenance than others. For example, animals with long hair need frequent brushing or grooming. Therefore, individuals should choose ESA wisely according to their budget and lifestyle.

Connection with the ESA

Last but not least, it is crucial to understand that every individual is different, and so are their emotional needs. Therefore, while choosing an ESA breed, rather than going for the best for everyone option, choose the one you feel connected to as, in the end, an emotional support animal is all about your mental and emotional well-being.
If you are still struggling to find the best emotional support animal, we have a list of 10 best emotional support animals, including their characteristics, which will help you choose the right one according to your needs.

10 Best Emotional Support Animals

1)Dogs

dogs as emotional support animals

Unsurprisingly, dogs are the first animals on our list of best emotional support animals since they are among the preferable choices when choosing an emotional support animal for any mental health condition. Whether it’s their physical touch, loving demeanor, friendliness, or loyal companionship, dogs make for a great ESA. Dogs have evolved to read human emotions and respond to our needs and desires.
Types of dog breeds that are better emotional support animals than others are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Corgis, American Staffordshire Terriers, Great Danes, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, all rank highly for their natural affection toward people, whether familiar faces or strangers. However, If you suffer from allergies, choosing one of the hypoallergenic dog breeds is a good idea. The dog breeds mentioned below are the perfect choice for someone looking for an emotional support dog since they are adorable, loving, and committed to your happiness and well-being.

Labrador Retriever

There is no doubt that Labrador is one of the most well-known dog breeds. These dogs are adorable and are among the best emotional support dogs. They have a cheerful and easygoing temperament. They are helpful for individuals who require a companion outside their homes because labs are typically comfortable while traveling with their owners.

Corgi

Corgis are a fantastic choice for an emotional support dog since they are cheerful, playful, and quickly settle down. Anybody can find enjoyment and satisfaction in watching a Corgi play. These dogs have a comforting smile that helps you relax your mind during high stress.

Great Dane

The Great Dane stands tall and leaves a lasting impact. Someone who prefers a canine bodyguard can choose a Great Dane as an emotional support dog. You will always have their loyalty, protection, and love because they are a guard dog breed. Great Danes are gentle giants, so many dog owners adore them.

American Staffordshire Terrier

These loving, friendly dogs are ideally suited to act as emotional support animals. With the proper training, American Staffordshire Terriers can quickly get along with most people. These dogs are an excellent fit for those with mental health concerns because of their calm and friendly nature.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavaliers were originally known as companion animals, and their genetic background makes them naturally compassionate and fun-loving. They are excellent apartment dogs because of their size. These dogs are adorable, well-behaved, and easy to groom. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a fantastic choice for someone looking for an emotional support dog, as these dogs can console you in tense situations.
The benefits of having an emotional support dog

  • People’s first choice for ESA.
  • Loyal, affectionate, and intuitive.
  • Lovable and easily acceptable to others.

Drawbacks of having an emotional support dog

  • Dogs require regular exercise, training, and attention

2) Cats

Cats as emotional support animal

If you’re not a dog person, consider getting a cat as an emotional support animal. They are independent, calming, and affectionate companions, so most people like getting a cat as an ESA rather than choosing any other animal. According to the studies, stroking or cuddling with a cat can release happy hormones in a person’s body that help decrease anxiety and stress symptoms.
Cat’s independent nature makes them a low-maintenance alternative to dogs, and studies show that spending time with cats can reduce stress levels and promote mental and emotional well-being. Whether curled up and purring on your lap or playing with a toy, they are loving, compassionate, and endlessly surprising pets, relatively easy to care for around the home. They should also qualify easily for a license under emotional support animal laws.
Some of the best types of cat breeds for emotional support include the Sphynx, Russian Blue, Abyssinian, Manx, Siamese, Bengal, American Bobtail, and Exotic Shorthair. Allergy sufferers should choose a hypoallergenic breed that won’t trigger their allergies.
Benefits of having an emotional support cat

  • They are independent yet comforting.
  • Small and cute.
  • Cats can be one of the best ESA.

Drawbacks of having an emotional support cat

  • Cats may not be as trainable as dogs.
  • Some may be allergic to cats.
  • Cats require proper litter box maintenance

3) Rabbits

Rabbits as an emotional support animal

Rabbits are next on the list of best emotional support animals. They are cute, cuddly, curious, playful, and quick to bond with people. Their fluffy, cute, easygoing nature makes them an excellent ESA. People with anxiety, depression, or PTSD may appreciate keeping a rabbit as an emotional support animal because they are cuddly, peaceful, gentle animals. They also have adorable tiny eyes, one of their most significant features. It could be impossible to choose another animal if you look into a rabbit’s eyes.
Moreover, rabbits have some of the softest furs among domesticated animals in the world, and most rabbits are used to being handled or picked up by people. Nonetheless, these cute little buddies are receptive to training, making them ideal for everyone.
Benefits of having a rabbit as an emotional support animal

  • They are gentle and cute.
  • Small in size.
  • Form a strong bonds with their owners.

Drawbacks of having a rabbit as an emotional support animal

  • Need specific dietary.
  • Small lifespan.

4) Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs as an ESA
Guinea pigs are among the most commonly used emotional support animals these days. These creatures are low maintenance and only take up a little of your space. Guinea pigs have many excellent qualities, including their small size, gentle nature, and high level of interactivity. If you plan to get a guinea pig as an emotional support animal, then it’s recommended that you have at least two of them simultaneously to keep each other company.
Benefits of having a guinea pig as an emotional support animal

  • Gentle.
  • Low-maintenance.
  • Social animals.

Drawbacks of having a guinea pig as an emotional support animal

  • Require a clean living environment.
  • Proper diet.
  • Regular handling.

5) Birds

Bird as an esa

Birds are extraordinary pets and emotional support animals for people with mental or emotional health issues such as depression, anxiety, or phobias. Their ability to mimic human voices makes them an absolute joy to interact with, and there is evidence that they can respond to their owners’ emotional states. They are incredible animals for people with anxiety and learning disabilities. Their extravagant colors and cheerful voices can help you stay calm during the intense stress phase.
Bird’s intelligent and affectionate behavior makes them an excellent choice for emotional support animals. Bird species like parrots, cockatoos, and parakeets are generally domesticated. Domesticated birds often have a longer lifespan than other animals. Moreover, they are relatively inexpensive to feed and are ideal for smaller spaces like studios and apartments. Furthermore, some birds have vocal skills that can aid with socialization.

Benefits of having a bird as an emotional support animal

  • Highly interactive.
  • Their chirping and singing can create a soothing environment.

Drawbacks of having a bird as an emotional support animal

  • They can be noisy at times.
  • Require specialized care.

6) Hamsters

Hamsters as ESA
The hamster is another animal on the list of the 10 best emotional support animals. These cute little creatures are popular pets among kids thanks to their manageable size, ease of care, and cuteness. Like other ESA-friendly rodents, hamsters require minimal space and maintenance, making them an excellent choice for someone who desires emotional support in a small package.
People who enjoy spending time alone in their rooms might get a hamster because they will always be around to accompany them. They are incredibly adorable animals, making them lovely emotional support animals for people of all ages. Hamsters are unquestionably a budget-friendly choice.
Benefits of having a hamster as an emotional support animal

  • Small and low-maintenance pets.
  • Help alleviate loneliness.

Drawbacks of having a hamster as an emotional support animal

  • Nocturnal and may be more active at night.
  • They require a suitable habitat and regular cleaning.
  • 7) Miniature Horses

    Miniature Horses

    Miniature horses make great ESAs for those who have enough space. While they may not be the first animal anyone thinks of when considering an ESA, surprisingly, miniature horses are great for emotional and mental support thanks to their calm nature and affectionate attitude.
    Activities such as petting, brushing, and washing their hair and coats can be therapeutic and meditative, helping to relax and boost an individual’s mood. They are also good at treatment for anxiety and depression. Their calm demeanour and love for people make them well-suited for being hugged, petted, and otherwise handled. Moreover, humans have shared a bond of trust and companionship with horses for ages.

    Benefits of having a miniature horse as an emotional support animal.

    • They are best known for their peaceful and gentle nature.
    • Can form strong bonds with their owners.

    Drawbacks of having a miniature horse as an emotional support animal

    • Require ample space.
    • Can make noise, particularly when they feel stressed or agitated.

    8) Miniature Pigs

    Miniature Pigs
    Miniature pigs are outstanding companions for support and affection. They have great temperaments and long lifespans and can help those with mental or emotional challenges socialize in new environments. Moreover, being well-behaved and intelligent makes them easy to train. Research demonstrates that pigs are among the most social and intellectual animals on the planet.
    One of the most amazing things about them is that pigs have very strong communication skills. Kune Kune, the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, is a miniature pig type that makes for the best emotional support animals.
    Benefits of having a pig as an emotional support animal

    • They are intelligent and easy to train
    • Their maintenance is easy

    Drawbacks of having a pig as an emotional support animal

    • They require much attention and stimulation to keep their minds busy.
    • They are very emotional and sensitive animals. Pigs may even experience depression if away from their owner.

    9) Turtles

    turtles as an ESA

    The turtle is a surprising animal that adds to the list of best emotional support animals. Known for their calming presence and slow and deliberate movements, they have a soothing effect on their handlers. Watching a turtle slowly explore its surroundings or bask in the sun can be a meditative experience, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
    Unlike dogs or cats, tortoises do not require constant attention or physical activity. They are independent creatures that spend much of their time in their compartments, making them suitable for individuals with limited energy. Having a turtle can reduce the pressure and responsibility often associated with pet ownership.
    Benefits of having a turtle as an emotional support animal

    • They are very calm and friendly and don’t require constant interaction
    • They can live for a very long time

    Drawbacks of having a turtle as an emotional support animal

    • They may suffer health problems if not cared for correctly.
    • May require regular veterinary visits.
    • Specific Habitat Needs

    10) Alpacas

    Llamas and alpacas
    Most people ignore Alpacas, but they are great support animals. They are gentle, friendly, and empathetic, and their exceptionally soft coat is also an absolute joy to touch. However, they need plenty of outdoor space to live. Alpacas aid in easing emotional distress and are great for outdoor enthusiasts.
    Benefits of having an Alpacas as an emotional support animal

    • Known for their calm and gentle demeanour.
    • Can form strong bonds with their owners.

    Drawbacks of having an Alpacas as an emotional support animal

    • Larger animals need adequate space for living.
    • Require proper handling and training.
    • Expensive to maintain.

    Benefits of Emotional Support Animals

    An emotional support animal can significantly impact the mental and emotional health of the individual. An ESA’s unconditional love and support improve anxiety, alleviate loneliness and reduce stress.

    Mental health professionals noted that there are vast improvements in patients with the help of emotional support animals. Individuals suffering from Anxiety disorders and depression have seen a positive impact on their mental and emotional well-being with an emotional support animal.
    Nevertheless, an ESA can be your faithful companion through the harsh phases of life.

    Stories of people whose lives have been changed by emotional support animals

    Reeza, 32, Berlin

    I am Reeza, 32, living in Berlin. Recently, my husband died, and I became all alone. This loneliness slowly started taking control of my mind. I felt depressed all the time. I used to stay home the whole day, and one day when, one of my friends visited me. She was very shocked by my condition and took me to a therapist. The therapist suggested an emotional support animal would best suit my condition, so I got a 4-month-old Labrador, Vizu. He is adorable and cheerful. Vizu is the reason I found my purpose in life again. Moreover, I have started exercising due to him, which has greatly helped my mental sanity.

    Monica, 19, Sydney

    I am a 19-year-old Monica. I have been struggling with anxiety for quite a little time now, and my situation was only getting worse. Then, one day, I discovered about emotional support animals and their benefits on individuals suffering from mental or emotional health conditions. After thorough research, I visited the therapist, and they recommended me an ESA. I brought home Zoe that day; Zoe is my 5-year-old turtle. Whenever I am experiencing any intense feeling or situation, I go and sit near his aquarium and watch him. And it is unbelievable how this has helped me a lot. I feel a lot better and more focused now.

    Legal Considerations

    To legally legitimize the emotional support animal, one needs an ESA letter. An ESA letter is the only official document that would help protect legal rights like FHA, allowing handlers to accommodate their ESAs in any rental accommodation without discrimination.

    Under FHA, all landlords and housing authorities must allow you to live with your emotional support animal, irrespective of the pet policies. Moreover, the landlord can not exempt an ESA based on breed, weight, or species, provided they have a reasonable accommodation. However, FHA does not cover any damage or trouble caused to fellow residents, as the handler is accountable for the dog’s care and behaviour.

    The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) previously protected the ESA air travel rights. Under the ACAA, the ESAs were allowed to travel with their handler without facing any discrimination. However, in 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation revised ACAA regulations. It gave the power to allow an emotional support animal to fly into the hands of the airlines, with which only certain airlines now allow emotional support animals on planes.

    However, if the ESA is small enough, some airlines will permit the handler to bring it as a carry-on, with limitations. Yet, service animals, including psychiatric service dogs, are still covered under ACAA, meaning all the flights can accommodate the service animals and can fly in the cabin with the handler.

    The only document that legally legitimizes the ESA is an ESA letter. Several websites offer ESA letters; however, the legitimacy of the ESA letter is very important, as an illegitimate ESA would get you and your ESA into trouble. A legitimate ESA letter must be obtained from a licensed mental health professional on their letterhead and should have the credentials of the LMHP.
    Therefore, an individual must choose a reputable and legitimate platform like Fast ESA Letter, the most reliable and trusted online platform for online ESA letter. Their letters adhere to the fair housing policies and are acceptable almost everywhere.

    Conclusion

    These were the list of the 10 best emotional support animals. However, it is essential to note that the animals mentioned above are not the only ones that qualify for an ESA, as there are no restrictions on choosing the best emotional support animal for you. After deciding which animal to adopt as an ESA, you can apply for an ESA Letter today!

    About the Author

    Lisa Tevis
    Lisa Tevis
    Lisa is a talented professional writer at Fast ESA Letter, fueled by a deep passion for animals. With a natural affinity for their well-being, Lisa combines her writing skills with her love for animals to create engaging and informative content. As a proud pet parent, Lisa shares her life with two beloved dogs, who have enriched her understanding of the human-animal bond. Through her work, Lisa aims to raise awareness about emotional support animals (ESAs) and their positive impact on mental health.

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