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More than one-third of households across the United States enjoy the love and laughter their pets bring them every day, but for those who require the companionship of ESA animals, their pets provide so much more.

The number of people who rely on the company of their emotional support animal has dramatically risen over the past few years. ESA animals provide a reason for their owner to get out of bed and to exercise and a chance to experience a loving relationship. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that pet ownership is a good way to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Pets can even encourage their owners to become more active members of society.

However, just like in human relationships, compatibility is the most important factor when searching for an emotional support animal. Depending on how suited ESA animals are to their owner, there can be a significant difference in their effect.

Most would assume dogs make for the best ESA animals. Although there is some truth to that, they are far from the only type of animal suitable for the job. Fortunately, unlike therapy or service animals, an emotional support animal is not required to be trained, therefore opening the doors to several types of pets that are harder to train than our canine friends. As you’ll see, there’s a furry friend for every dog-lover and non-dog-lover alike.

ESA Dogs

When it comes to adopting a new pooch as an emotional support animal, few come more recommended than the Boston Terrier. In fact, Terriers are often bred specifically to be companion animals. Given their lively nature, they encourage their owners to socialize and can greatly assist those who suffer from social anxiety. As such, they are better suited for the younger crowd. But if it’s a cuddle buddy you’re looking for, then never fear because as quickly as they want to be taken for a walk, they’ll waste no time curling up in your lap once they’re done.

For those of an older generation (presumably living within a quieter environment), a Greyhound may make an excellent companion. Although typically thought of being full of energy, Greyhounds are an extremely calm breed. They’re also loyal animals. A Greyhound is perfect for someone seeking the strong, silent type.

ESA Cats

Dogs aren’t the only option for someone seeking their ultimate companion. With their self-sufficient nature, fluffy felines can often be more desirable to those seeking an emotional support animal.

The Persian cat is at the top of the ESA animals list. They are one of the few breeds that value companionship with their owner more than playful activity, so for most the time, you’ll find them wanting to be as close to you as possible. Persian cats are pretty furry, though, so an owner must be willing to provide regular grooming.

For those on the fence about whether they would be better suited for a dog or a cat, consider a Manx. These felines share a lot of the same qualities as their canine counterparts but also have the benefit of easier upkeep. Not only are they especially intelligent, but they are also particularly social and can even be trained to go on walks. Don’t let their appearance surprise you, though. They are naturally born without a tail — a unique option indeed.

ESA Rabbits

ESA animals that are becoming increasingly popular are rabbits. Unlike the former, rabbits do come with a slight caveat: It’s almost never advised to get just one. This is because rabbits also require the companionship of a long-eared friend of their own.

Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box just like a cat and are safe to hop around your home freely. Regarding specific breeds, Satin and Cinnamon rabbits are two perfect candidates. Both breeds are naturally loving, have a laid-back demeanor and calm temperament, and are particularly bright. If you’re in the market for more than one new member of the family, then a couple of rabbit companions would make wonderful additions.

ESA Animals Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Before adopting an emotional support animal for companionship, it’s always best to assess all of your options and requirements, as the most unlikely animal may just find its way into your heart. You know that saying, “When pigs fly”? Well, that’s about to take on a whole other meaning.

Earlier this year, an airline admitted a woman on the plane with her emotional support animal — a 70-pound potbellied pig called Hamlet. The woman suffers from extreme flight anxiety, as well as an ongoing battle with anorexia, and says that Hamlet helps her cope when faced with a challenging situation.

Although pigs are usually associated with the farmyard, studies have shown that they are more intelligent than any domestic animal and more trainable than cats or dogs. Because of this, they can even become therapy pets.

So, remember that before automatically gravitating toward man’s best friend, it’s worth exploring all the options available. As this list is far from inclusive of every animal that would make a great emotional support animal, you may just be pleasantly surprised with what you find.

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