Approximately 26% of American adults live with a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, with nearly 16.2 million Americans experiencing at least one major depressive episode on an annual basis. While many people find therapeutic sessions and medical treatments to be helpful in alleviating depressive symptoms, others will supplement these techniques with pet therapy for depression. By registering a dog, cat, or other pet as an emotional support animal, individuals can reap the benefits of keeping an animal for companionship, as well as the improved physical and mental health advantages that ESAs, specifically, can provide.
If you’ve already learned how to qualify for an emotional support animal and have received confirmation from your mental health provider that you could benefit from an ESA, you might be wondering which type of animal you should choose. What exactly are the best ESAs for depression? Generally speaking, dogs and cats are the most popular options. Although any animal can likely be registered as an ESA, dogs are highly regarded for providing legitimate emotional support and for being highly trainable. Let’s take a look at some of the top ESA dog choices for depression.
- Golden Retrievers: Gentle, happy, and friendly, golden retrievers have earned their place in the hearts of countless pet owners. Their docile nature and calming presence make them an obvious choice for those looking for the best ESAs for depression. They love people, are eager to learn, and are incredibly patient. All told, these pups earn high marks for their ability to improve the lives of people with depression and other mental health issues.
- Labrador Retrievers: Another highly popular breed, labs are gentle, friendly, and highly trainable. They’re intelligent and love nothing more than to earn your praise. They do well in all kinds of environments, including larger families, and are generally goofy and energetic. While they aren’t the most low-key breed out there, they love to stick close by and will see any task through to the end.
- Poodles: Despite their seemingly prissy nature, poodles are considered to be one of the best ESAs for depression due to their intelligence, their adaptability, and their enthusiasm. They’re sweet, playful, and sensitive to their owners’ needs. Although they do require a fair amount of grooming, they are highly social and can come in several sizes to suit your home life.
- Corgis: An internet sensation in their own right, corgis bring joy to just about everyone they come across. And while they’re a bit smaller than some other breeds, they fit a lot of love into a small package. They’re affectionate, even-tempered, friendly, and obedient. They’re great with both humans and other animals, though they do require daily exercise to stay in shape.
- German Shepherds: Known as one of the most intelligent dog breeds around, German shepherds are hard-working and highly trainable. They love to serve, which makes them a perfect choice for ESAs and other canine positions. They do have a lot of energy, which means training may be a higher priority for this breed than with others. But once they know the drill, they’ll become loyal companions for life.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: These sweet pups were literally bred to be companions. Named after Britain’s King Charles II, they’re both loyal and royal in their own right. They’re friendly, love to snuggle, and are happy to stay right by your side at all times. A true lap dog who loves humans of all ages, the cavalier can make a wonderful addition to any home.
It’s important to note that this list of the best ESAs for depression is by no means exhaustive. Any breed — from the pit bull to the pug — can make an amazing emotional support animal. It all comes down to individual temperament and personal bond with the owner. To learn more about emotional support animals for treating depression, get in touch with us today.