What Are the Best Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals are fantastic companions that help you limit negative emotions and foster a healthier mindset.

With a therapeutic relief pet, you’ll have a source of comfort throughout the day that makes life much more manageable. 

Where things get complicated is what type of animal makes for a good emotional support pet. Any animal providing therapeutic relief qualifies as an emotional assistance pet, but some species are notably better than others.

In particular, certain animal species can connect on a deeper level with humans. This is due to the nature of the owner-pet relationship and their dependency on humans for care.  

If you’re thinking of adopting a companion for emotional support, you’ll want to know which animal will work best. We’ll help you out by pointing out four great pets for therapeutic relief below. 


The most popular type of therapeutic support animal is the dog.

Dogs are a natural fit for emotional support because they’re often referred to as a man’s (or woman’s) best friend. The relationship between dogs and their owners can easily be described as such. 

This comes down to how dogs are highly domesticated and obedient toward humans. They’re receptive to your input and can have their behavior molded. This shows that dogs trust humans and are willing to submit to them. 

This relationship is perfect for providing emotional support. Through forming a bond with your dog, you’ll love them and feel joy when you interact with them. 

Dogs also tend to have fairly laid-back demeanors. They are often gentle and understanding of you, which can make you feel supported. 

While many different dog breeds exist, just about any can provide therapeutic relief. That said, some breeds excel at this due to their inherent characteristics. Similar to the best breeds for service dogs, labrador retrievers and german shepherds are two of the best-behaved choices.

Considering this, dogs should be your go-to choice unless you have allergies or cannot accommodate housing a dog.    


Cats are another common type of emotional assistance pet. 

This serves as a nice alternative to a dog because cats are lower maintenance. Cats don’t require regular walks and are self-sufficient for most of their needs. 

Paired with their significantly reduced size, this makes them a great choice for smaller living situations like apartments and low square-footage homes.

While dogs and cats both make great therapeutic relief animals, the two species are very different. Both are domesticated, but cats are far more independent and tend to have volatile personalities. 

This makes it much easier to understand the difference between people who like dogs and those who prefer cats. Some people like both, but there is often a distinct preference.

Cats want things on their terms, which can make it seem like you’re living with a little human. The personality of cats tends to be much more robust and varied than dogs, meaning that interactions with them are very different. 

While cats may not always be open to your affection, the times that they are can be intoxicatingly loving. Few connections are deeper than when a cat truly loves their owner. 

If you don’t like dogs or you’re just a cat person, then a cat is excellent for helping you feel more at ease.   


Various species of birds can also make for great emotional support pets.

Birds are a far less common choice because caring for one is a much different dynamic than owning a dog or cat. Most birds are kept in cages and you likely won’t be able to frequently stroke one like you would a dog or cat. 

This lack of constant touch means that you won’t be benefiting from the same chemical releases produced by stroking a dog or cat. However, you can still receive emotional support if you enjoy being in a caretaker role.

Taking good care of a bird is a lot of work, but it can be rewarding when your bird is pleased and enjoys a happy life. It’s similar to the joy of watching your child grow or seeing a project that you started from scratch come to fruition.

One final part of this is that some birds can speak. Specifically, parrots and songbirds. As these bird species spend time with you, they will listen to your speech and begin to mimic it. Not only is this humorous, but it gives you a friend to talk to! 

By caring for a bird, you can effectively teach yourself how to love and care for yourself. This makes for a slightly different approach to therapeutic relief, but it is still powerful and enriching.   


For a smaller alternative, you can also adopt a rodent as your therapeutic relief animal

This approach to emotional support is similar to owning a bird. However, you do have the benefit of being able to physically touch a rodent.

In particular, the best rodents for emotional relief include rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs. While caring for these three species is a little different, the basic concept is similar and this makes them fairly equal options. 

Rodents make good emotional support animals because you get to care for them and watch them grow. Their size also makes them fairly low maintenance.

Most of the benefit from a therapeutic relief rodent will be indirect. It’s from the combination of little things like successfully teaching them a new trick, having them be comfortable enough to perch on your shoulder, and even light grooming that fills you with peace. 

Closing Thoughts

If you struggle with feelings of loneliness, anxiety, stress, and depression, then an emotional support animal can provide relief. A reliable companion can remind you that you aren’t alone, things aren’t so bad, and to focus on the positive in life. 

Your experience will vary depending on what type of animal you get. Some of the best choices for emotional assistance include dogs, cats, birds, and rodents.

The pet that will suit you best depends on your personality, preferences, and living situation. A therapeutic relief pet can greatly improve your life when you find the right companion. 

Written by Valentin Bosioc

Valentin Bosioc - wellness specialist, certified personal trainer, certified fitness instructor, celebrity trainer, Musclemania Champion, Ninja Warrior Semifinalist, world wide motivator!

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  1. I have a cat, she is the most loving creature on earth. At first I was a dog person but when I found her she made my days happier. Pets have this power for sure.

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