If you’re thinking about getting an emotional support animal, you may be under the illusion that dogs are the only pet that would qualify. It’s true that dogs are very popular and often do make the best emotional support animals, but in fact there are many different types of ESAs. An ESA can provide you with the support you need simply by being your companion and helping you get through each day. So dogs, of course, are an obvious choice. However, you might not want a large animal for several reasons, so let’s take a look at which small pets make the best emotional support animals.
Firstly, we shouldn’t discount small dogs. If you want a constant companion and an animal that will love you unconditionally, then a toy dog breed could be the answer. They don’t require a lot of exercise and they’re happy to stay in the home so long as you don’t leave them on their own for long periods. One of the benefits of having an emotional support animal of this size is that it can sleep on your bed with you and sit on your lap when you’re at home – providing you want it to, of course! A small emotional support dog is also very manageable if, for example, you wanted to take it to work with you or on a train or even an airplane. If you have a legitimate ESA letter, your pet (with one or two conspicuous exceptions!) is allowed to travel in the cabin of the plane with you.
Another obvious small pet that makes for one of the best emotional support animals is a cat. Cats don’t need as much attention as dogs and are generally OK to be left to their own devices for a time without getting fretful. This may suit you if you have to go to work or leave the house for other reasons for long periods of time. Stroking a cat is known to reduce anxiety levels and it can even bring your blood pressure down, so for this reason alone a cat is certainly one of the best emotional support animals you could choose to own. Not all cats need to go outside either; certain breeds make very good house cats and are quite content to be inside so long as you provide them with food, warmth, and love. The more affection you give to a cat, the more you generally get in return.
Another small pet that’s a good choice as an ESA is a rabbit. You can either keep it in a cage or have it as a house pet. Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to train rabbits to use a litter tray! It has to be a special type of tray, though – not your usual cat litter tray. It needs to be deep and lined with newspaper, then filled with hay. Rabbits are naturally inquisitive animals and they can also become quite sociable if you interact with them and give them attention. So this makes them a very rewarding small emotional support animal. If you have them as house pets hopping around the home, you’ll need to provide some sort of hiding place that they can withdraw to when they feel the need. Remember that they do like to chew things, so keep electric cables or children’s toys out of their reach!
A hamster is also a good choice as a small emotional support animal. Unlike rabbits, you will definitely need to have a cage for your hamster. A hamster is so small that if you let it run around without keeping an eye on it, you could easily lose it. That said, you can take your little furry friend out of his cage and pet him. Hamsters are timid at first; they need to get to know you and trust you so be gentle and patient with them. Make sure you have a good size cage for your hamster with plenty of hay, as it will want to burrow. Hamsters like to keep busy, which is why they enjoy running on their hamster wheel (a must in the cage!) and will need things to chew on. Just watching them in their cage will provide hours of entertainment for you and will help keep you calm and relaxed.
Finally let’s look at the guinea pig. Guinea pigs can get quite lonely on their own, so it’s always better to keep two if you can. A common question about ESAs is “Can you have more than one emotional support animal?” The answer is yes, you can. Guinea pigs should be kept in a cage most of the time, but they do need exercise, so either let them run around in an enclosed space or, if you have a garden, you can attach a wired run to their cage so that they go out when they want. It’s always best to keep their cage somewhere warm and secure at night, though. Guinea pigs do tend to eat a lot – hay, grass, lettuce etc. – so make sure their cage is well-stocked. They are very cute to observe; their little squeaky noises will make you smile, and most are happy to be held and stroked. If you’re in a room with them, sit on the floor and they will come and visit you, as they are very inquisitive and love exploring. But remember that they do eat a lot, and what goes in has to come out!
So these are just some examples of small pets that can make the best emotional support animals. There are of course many more types of emotional support animals and it may take a little time to find out which one works for you. The benefits of having an emotional support animal are well-documented; you just need to find the furry friend that will suit your personal needs and circumstances.