When most people think of emotional support animals, their minds go to either cats or dogs. While both cats and dogs can make great ESAs, they aren’t the only options. There is a plethora of different pets that can help ease anxiety, depression, or chronic stress. In fact, any type of domesticated animal can be an ESA. Other than cats and dogs, this list includes mice, rabbits, birds, hedgehogs, rats, pigs, ferrets – and, of course, guinea pigs.
The great thing about emotional support animals is that they don’t need any specific training to help a person with a psychological or emotional disability. All they need to be able to do is provide emotional support to their owner. Often, simply being around is enough to help their owner get through their worst days. But what should you look for when choosing an emotional support animal? And why are less common options guinea pigs worth considering?
What should I look for in an ESA?
Choosing the right emotional support animal doesn’t have to be a complicated process, but it should be done with care. The type of animal you choose will play a significant role in how they affect your life. The first factor you should consider when choosing an emotional support animal is the type of care you can or are willing to provide to the pet. For example, if you are unable to get out of the house daily for walks, a dog probably isn’t the greatest option.
You’ll also want to consider other factors, such as whether or not you want your ESA to be cuddly or playful; how much time you’ll be spending with your pet; and the temperament you wish your ESA to have. Guinea pigs are often best for those who are looking for both a cute and cuddly animal while also wanting a pet that doesn’t require too much energy to be properly taken care of.
Is a guinea pig a good ESA?
Guinea pigs may not be as popular as dogs or cats, but they can be great ESAs for many reasons.
They are low-maintenance
Taking care of a guinea pig doesn’t require you to go on regular walks, and since their living situation often involves some sort of cage, cleaning up after them is a breeze. You also don’t have to worry about them trying to escape your home, because even if they are out of their cage, they are unlikely to make a bolt for the front door the same way a dog or a cat might. Guinea pigs are also very clean animals, and tend to keep themselves bathed as they spent a good chunk of their time self-grooming. As long as they have a clean cage, are brushed enough, and have access to food and water, they will be as happy as a clam.
They are great for inexperienced pet owners
Anyone who’s ever gotten a new puppy knows that there isn’t much that can be done to prepare you for the level of work required to raise them. For those who have never had pets before, getting a guinea pig is a great way to introduce themselves into the world of pet and ESA ownership. While you will still have to properly take care of a guinea pig, it is a lot easier than other animals that qualify for ESA status. Since guinea pigs are so easy to manage, you won’t have to deal with the extra challenges that often comes with having a new pet in the home.
They have good life spans
Guinea pigs are typically healthy animals. That means that you won’t have the added stress of them becoming sick often. If you take care of your guinea pig properly, it’s likely that you’ll never have to deal with the ups and downs that can occur in animals more prone to vet visits. Guinea pigs also live for about five to seven years, on average, which means that you will have a lot of time to spend with your furry companion.
It’s easy to travel with a guinea pig
Moving or travelling with an emotional support animal can sometimes be a difficult process, but with guinea pigs, it’s a lot easier. If you have to travel by plane, guinea pigs are small enough that you may be able to bring them into the cabin with you (you’ll just need to check if your chosen airline allows this). They are also so easy to take care of that if you do need to take a solo trip, a friend or family member can easily look after them without you having to worry about them while you’re gone.
They have gentle natures
By nature, guinea pigs are rarely aggressive. They also don’t get stressed out too often. These qualities in an ESA are great because their nature can help you to feel more relaxed as well. This isn’t to say that all guinea pigs act alike. In fact, they can have incredibly unique personalities. When they’re excited or happy, they will do something called “popcorning” (look it up for some adorable videos), and if you are petting them, they will often purr just like a cat. Like dogs and cats, they also recognize their owners, meaning that you and your guinea pig can form a solid bond, which is important in every ESA/owner relationship. Research has shown that guinea pigs can also help to reduce anxiety and stress, so they are wonderfully effective as ESAs.
Who are guinea pigs good for?
Considering their temperaments and the level of care they need, guinea pigs are suitable for a wide variety of people suffering from chronic stress, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. Those who live in small spaces and those who don’t like to get out much are also great matches for guinea pig ESAs.
While you may have never considered a guinea pig as an emotional support animal before, they are a great option for a pet that can help you cope with your mental health condition, and are so easy to care for that they won’t cause you any added stress. Guinea pigs are also adorable, which is a welcome bonus!