Many women I know and talk with who have fibromyalgia have shared their experiences with having a pet. It seems that cats and dogs can be very sensitive to our pain. They are more apt to cuddle and be near us when our pain levels are higher. My dog stays near me all day and will curl up at my feet when I’m having a hard day.
Having conversations with others and sharing funny stories about our pets can help keep the focus off our pain. Not to mention that laughter is very good medicine. Having a dog also forces you to get outside and get in a little exercise. I enjoy walking my dog first thing in the morning; it helps to wake me up and energize me a little. I keep it to just five minutes at a time.
Furry pets can be such great companions, and it’s helpful to have one or two to have to take care of. If you live alone, they can be great company. You develop a routine of feeding, bathing, and caring for them, giving you a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. They can truly fill a hole in your heart.
Research has shown that pets help to reduce pain levels, raise those feel-good endorphins, and even lower blood pressure. They help to reduce anxiety and depression in some people, and provide a never-ending source of unconditional love. They can be a great source of comfort and joy.
According to the ADA (American Disabilities Act), you can get a service dog if you have fibromyalgia, as fibromyalgia patients are considered disabled under ADA standards. That may be something to look into in your state, as it would allow a trained service dog to go with you everywhere: work, restaurants, church, etc.
Xolos are a Mexican breed of hairless dogs known for their intense body heat. Placing your dog on or near a body part that is currently experiencing pain has proven to be very beneficial. One woman with wrist pain recounted placing her wrist under the dog’s tummy and, within 15 minutes, her pain was gone.
It can be so socially and emotionally isolating having a chronic illness — pets can help to keep you safer and feeling unconditionally loved. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, a dog, a rabbit, a horse, or a hamster. If you don’t currently have a pet, I would strongly encourage you to find one that you will enjoy, and that fits within your ability to care for. If your pet is a service dog, you can have one even if your current living situation doesn’t allow pets.
Speaking from personal experience, I feel so much less alone with my dog for a companion. When she’s not laying on my bed, she’s under my bed. She stays close to wherever I am.
Do you have a pet? I’d love to hear about your experience.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.