How Pets Can Help Your Chronic Pain Symptoms
By Jeanne Faulkner
Reviewed by QualityHealth’s Medical Advisory Board
Pet owners love their companions for a variety of reasons. But can having a pet relieve your chronic pain? In fact, studies have found that, yes, pets can help relieve many of the symptoms associated with chronic pain conditions and help patients live better lives. Here are five ways that pets can help patients with chronic pain:
1. Provide distraction. It’s hard to focus on pain when you’re watching a kitten chase her tail or when a dog is cuddled up next to you. Animals give patients opportunities to enjoy life through simple moments and events, like throwing your dog a ball, playing with your cat or listening to your bird sing. Plus, being a responsible pet owner requires that you feed, water, walk, care for and clean up after your animal, which gives you something to focus on outside of your diagnosis.
2. Increase activity. Even if all you do is walk to the pantry to open a can, owning a pet makes you get up and move. Dogs are particularly effective pets for bumping up your physical activity level because they require walking and demand playful interaction. Cats, on the other hand, are more independent, which might provide a better pet-match for patients with mobility issues.
3. Improve your mood. Studies show that the very act of petting an animal reduces anxiety, symptoms of depression, and stress. Pets provide companionship, opportunities to connect with others and reduce feelings of isolation. What’s more, dogs are effective at sensing and absorbing people’s moods. Often they’re used in hospitals, schools, and other care facilities to provide therapy and personal services. That’s not just a benefit for dog owners, however. Cats, horses, birds, chickens, and other animals can provide companionship and services that help people experience a better sense of wellbeing.
4. Improve your heart health. According to the American Pain Foundation, pet owners who suffer heart attacks have higher one-year survival rates than patients who are not pet owners. Animal owners also have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, fewer minor health problems such as headaches and injuries, and are able to cope better with stressful life events. Petting a dog has been proven to reduce blood pressure dramatically in some patients.
5. Provide unconditional love. Animals don’t care what you look like, how much you complain, or how exhausted you are. They love you regardless of the circumstances. Through their eyes, you’re perfect. Their inexhaustible patience and ability to stay present in the moment provides their owners valuable lessons in how to be better humans.
Want to Reap the Benefits of Owning a Pet?
Contact a veterinarian and find out what types of pets would work for your home, family and health condition. Visit the Humane Society or local animal shelter and consider adopting an animal that needs you as much as you need him. If owning your own pet doesn’t work for you, contact the Delta Society and find out about pet therapy dogs in your area.
Article Provided By: qualityhealth
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