Anna shares how owning a pet can help lupus, reduce anxiety and depression, provide comfort, and more.
I have a nine-year-old Shih Tzu named Eugene. However, he's curled up in his bed because he's sick. Regardless of animals getting sick, which is awful, there are a lot of great benefits to having an animal — especially when you have lupus.
Owning an Animal Can Reduce Anxiety and Depression
It's been proven that those who have animals are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, and it can also bring your heart rate down, thus bringing down your blood pressure — which is fantastic if you have lupus because a lot of people with lupus are already prone to having heart attacks or strokes.
Pets Provide Comfort
Having a dog when you have lupus is fantastic. Not just dogs, but any animal that provides you comfort, because they can be there in ways that humans can't.
I know that that sounds kind of silly, especially if you haven't owned an animal, but in periods where I've been in severe flares and haven't been able to work or haven't been able to do anything, other's people's lives they just go on, don't they?
Your partner goes to work; your parents go to work, your children go off and go to school. However, if you have an animal, a lot of times that animal can perceive that you are not feeling well and they will come, and they will sit with you all day. They provide you tons and tons of comfort, which is fantastic and it's a great way to minimize your feelings of depression and hopelessness when you are suffering from a flare.
Forces You to Get Out of Your Head
Another thing that is great about having animals when you have lupus is that it forces you to get out of your head, especially if you are suffering from depression in lupus.
If you don't have an animal, sometimes it is easy when you're flaring or flaring/depressed to fall out of a routine entirely, just lay in bed all day and watch TV. Well, you can’t do this obviously when you have a pet.
Having a pet establishes a routine for you because they have a time that they need to be fed, they have a time that they need to be walked, and they have time when they need to be played with and things like that. So it allows you to get up, think about something besides yourself for a few minutes.
Not to say that you're selfish with lupus, but it can help take your mind off the pain, take your mind off the depression and focus on something else.
You Take Care of Each Other
One thing I did want to stress about having an animal with lupus, is that you need to be able to care for the pet's needs.
If you have lupus so badly that it's hard for you to get out of bed some days, or you don't have a partner or children, or you don't live with your parents or anyone that can help you, it's probably not the best idea to have a pet unless you have some reinforcement, or you have money to hire someone to come in and feed and walk the dog or let the cat out or do whatever you need to do.
Even though animals provide comfort for us, they also need to have their needs met for them.
An Important Note on Owning an Animal
As I said earlier, I have like I said, is a nine-year-old Shih Tzu, and I rescued him when he was a year and a half. I selected a Shih Tzu mostly because they don't require a ton of exercise. He does get walked once a day.
Now he's not feeling as good as he used to because he's had a lot of health problems. But when he was feeling a lot better, I try to walk him once a day. I talked to the vet about this before I adopted him.
If he doesn't get a walk, it's okay as long as he's walking around the house and playing with his toys and doing things like that.
It's important that you take into account the pet's exercise needs and things like that before you adopt a pet, because if you adopt a big Labrador, if you don't have a partner or somebody that can help you take care of him, and take the dog on walks and hikes and things like that, it can be very cruel for them because they do need quite a lot of exercise. So that is something to take into account.
And there are smaller breeds of dogs, and cats are always low maintenance and other animals that you can get that don't require a ton of exercise and maintenance that can still keep you company.