Living with Chronic Pain
6 Benefits of Pet Ownership When Living With Chronic Pain
Most likely, owning a pet is not the first thing that comes to mind when considering pain relief options. However, having a pet provides various physical and mental health benefits, including pain relief.
Six advantages of owning a pet when living with chronic pain include the following:
- Pets provide a reason to get up and get moving.
Chronic pain often curtails the motivation to get up and move. Caring for a pet can provide that motivation. Pets require care, so staying in bed is not an option. Feeding is a definite requirement, and depending on the type of pet, walking, brushing, and cleaning living quarters may be needed, too. These things require physical movement, which improves strength and flexibility, helps maintain a healthy weight, reduces joint pain, and promotes better sleep.
- Pets provide companionship. Caring for a pet can reduce or even prevent feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression that often accompany chronic pain. Because depression can worsen chronic pain, preventing or managing it is essential.
- Pets reduce stress levels. Petting an animal can reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream. This can improve mood and reduce muscle tension that may be contributing to pain.
- Pets provide a distraction from pain. Having a distraction can often help reduce pain. Spending time with a feathered friend, teaching a dog a new trick, or playing with a kitten are good examples of distractions.
- Pets provide opportunities to socialize. Pet owners share a common interest — a love of animals. Taking a dog for a walk around the neighborhood or to the local dog park provides an opportunity to socialize and meet new friends, which can improve mood and reduce pain levels.