Can Pets Improve Your Health?

When dealing with another psoriasis flareup, the last thing on your mind may be the thought of bringing on another family member or responsibility. However, bringing someone new into your home (especially a small, furry companion) may actually be a wonderful thing! Studies have found that pets can provide definitive health benefits and can be a wonderful complementary and alternative therapy. Read on to find out how acquiring your own furry (or non-furred) friend could change your world for the better.

Pets can lower cardiovascular risk

Having psoriasis can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular complications down the line? You may have been instructed many times on how to reduce your risk, but did you know that a pet could help? Petting your companion animal and soothing them increases the amount of oxytocin, a relaxation and bonding hormone, that your body produces. It also decreases the amount of cortisol, or stress hormone, that your body makes as well. This physiological response can actually lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, stress, and triglyceride levels, all of which can reduce your cardiovascular complication risk!

Pets can affect your mood

Flare-ups are stressful. On top of lowering stress, creating and maintaining a loving bond with your pet can increase your sense of belonging, self-competence, self-esteem, and autonomy. Our pets love us unconditionally and think we can do no wrong. Whether you’re coming home from a few hours out of the house, or just beckoning your furry friend to come near, they will always treat you with love, kindness, and compassion — feelings we could all use more of! These positive feelings can reduce our levels of depression and anxiety. Additionally, any increased exercise you may perform as a result of walking, or playing with your friend, can further improve your mood.

Aiding in chronic pain

Psoriasis can lead to swelling and pain of the joints, a condition known as psoriatic-arthritis. Cracked, bleeding skin can be especially painful. Playing with your companion, whether by getting physical activity or just sitting down for a nice petting, can actually increase the level of endorphins your body produces. These endorphins are natural pain killers, and may reduce levels of chronic pain in some individuals.

Providing a new social network

Psoriasis can be isolating and increase feelings of depression and loneliness. Not only do pets directly counteract this by providing you with an always available buddy, they also can ease and increase opportunities for social interaction. Taking your dog to a dog park for example, can lead to meeting many others with dogs and provide common ground for interaction. Additionally, taking your animal friend places may increase your self-confidence and give you the boost you need to strike up a conversation with a potential new friend. And with a cute friend in tow, you will always have something you’re passionate talking about!

It may not always be feasible to take on a pet while living with a chronic condition, but there are many potential benefits it could bring. It is also important to remember that animals help provide these benefits for us when we have a healthy relationship with them, which, like any relationship, will take work. But once you form a special, loving bond with your companion, you will have a forever best friend!

Check out our Spotlight Feature on Pets and Health and let us know: Have you experienced positive benefits from interacting with a pet?

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