Having a pet is good for the soul. They make us smile, provide bountiful opportunities for affection, friendship, and introduce us to a whole new world outside our own human constraints. In addition, pets can change our lives quite literally. You've no doubt heard of service dogs, and are well aware of the great work they can do for those constricted by a variety of disorders. Did you know, though, that our four-legged friends could be used to overcome rheumatoid arthritis and similarly debilitating conditions?
Despite humans having pets for many thousands of years, the study of their effect on our health and wellbeing is still relatively new. Now, however, there is evidence to suggest that pets can increase our lifespan, reduce stress, boost our wellbeing, and encourage us to become more active. Those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, for example, benefit from periods of physical activity, a key component in the management of pain. What greater encouragement could there be than walking a pup? Emotional support, which is born out of our love for our pets, is also a huge contributing factor to recovery and illness management.
Dr. Ann Berger, a physician at the NIH Clinical Center, which treats patients with life-threatening and long-term illnesses, explained that having a pup at their bedside can make all the difference to patients: "Our patients are often here for a long period of time. I think the dogs add a bit of normalcy to a very difficult situation. The dog will sit calmly and the patients don't have to talk to anyone. They can just pet. I think this helps with some of the suffering."
Paws N Claws Eyewear CEO Sam Shapiro agrees: "Caring for a pet can boost the morale and self-esteem of those dealing with a health problem. I think an animal also can help us to have more of a positive and mindful attitude, too."
It's certainly true that having a pet can create a wonderful bond that transcends many human relationships, and that our furry friends are always there for us whenever we need them – regardless of whether we ask or not. Now, science is beginning to recognize the merits of pet parenting, which will only ever be a good thing.