When we have a chronic condition we often wonder how we will manage the responsibilities that come along with owning a pet. However, did you know pets can bring a sense of comfort for people living with fibromyalgia. Since I have dogs, I will focus my blog post around dogs. Dogs are often referred to as “mans best friend” for a reason!
People who suffer from fibromyalgia can become isolated from those around them. Owning a dog can provide companionship. A dog can’t hold a full conversation with you like another human, but can help ward off loneliness. If you own a dog and you are like me, you will find yourself talking to your dog!
Owning a dog can act as a distraction. No matter how much pain you are in, a dog always needs attention- Whether that is to feed, bath, throw a ball ect. My dog is still younger and gets acting silly. She races around the house acting like something is chasing her. It makes me laugh and takes away my focus on the constant pain I feel or any other fibromyalgia symptoms I may be dealing with. Even just sitting on the floor playing with my dogs helps distract my mind.
Experts say that just ten minutes petting a dog can help lower stress levels. We all know that stress heightens fibromyalgia pain and symptoms. Apparently as you pet and interact with your dog, the stress hormone cortisol significantly drops. The drop in cortisol levels, lowers muscle tension that may be contributing to pain levels. Experts also report increased oxytocin hormone levels are seen. The oxytocin hormone seems to have pain reducing potential! Dogs are used for pet therapy for this reason!
Here is a study done on dog therapy and fibromyalgia! Click here.
Owning a dog makes you have to get up and move/exercise. Even if you are only moving to let your dog outside – it still is movement! Often dogs will need a walk to help burn off energy. While taking the dog for a walk, you too are exercising! Even if it is just a 5 minute walk- you are still moving. Movement is important for fibromyalgia.
There are instances where an individual living with fibromyalgia may qualify for a service dog. Service dogs are trained to help with many tasks. They can be trained to bring the person different objects – even medication. Some people with fibromyalgia experience balance issues and may walk with a cane. A service dog may be trained to retrieve a dropped can that the individual cannot pick up themselves. Service dogs are also trained to open and close drawers and doors and even bring clothing. The benefits of having a service dog are endless. These are just a few examples.
Here are a few pictures of my fur babies!