IBS and the Benefit of Pets
Stress can play a big role in the onset of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. When it comes to stress management, many people find pets to be an excellent source of comfort during trying days.
I recently lost my beloved dog, Pebbles. She was 13 years old and had become very ill. It was apparent months ago that she would not live long enough to see another birthday, but the loss was profound even with the time to prepare. I did not realize just how much she relieved my stress until she was gone. If you are on the fence about getting a pet, let me share with you the ways a pet can help your IBS symptoms.
Stress and pain management
Dogs are very loving, and they are happy to cheer you up on even the worst days. Having a doting companion waiting at home can help ease tension after a long day and distract you from minor issues that compound stress. Pets have an uncanny ability to recognize variances in moods and always seem to be ready to provide comfort when you need it most. It is like having a furry ball of happiness, and it is hard to focus on your troubles when your pet is insistent on lavishing you with affection.
Pets can sense your pain. There were many days that my dog would simply lay her head on my leg. This simple act was an acknowledgment of the pain. It was validation of the pain. Sometimes having her recognize it and provide the comfort of simply acknowledging pain while trying not to add to my discomfort with her full weight was enough to make me feel better. Petting her head and rubbing her soft ears was a welcome distraction from cramps, and it often helped occupy my mind enough to relieve milder cramping.
On particularly stressful days or days when the pain was severe, I have snuggled into my dog's side and cried. She would curl her head around mine as if she were giving me a hug. It was comforting, and it helped me release frustration, tension, and cry through both physical and emotional pain. Sometimes this was enough to reduce stress levels in order to gain control over a flare.
Pets are always on call
The great thing about pets is they are always ready to take care of your needs any way they can. They are not dismissive of symptoms. They notice and acknowledge your pain, and they are always ready to provide as much comfort as possible. A pet is never too busy to be available when you need them. Your dog does not have a job, kids to tend to, or a house to clean. They are simply there for you, and that is almost impossible to have in another human being because we are all busy with necessary daily tasks. While a pet is an added responsibility, it is also a friend who is focused on your needs. Training a pet is a lot of work, but the end results are worth it.
Many hospitals and nursing homes use pet therapy because it helps patients in so many ways. The benefits of interacting with animals have led to the use of service dogs and emotional support animals. Stress management is the primary reason for the use of an emotional support animal, and a pet can certainly have a huge impact on your stress levels.
Considering pet ownership
I enjoyed many years with my beloved dog, and she helped me in many ways. Lowering my stress levels and helping me cope with the pain of IBS were big bonuses. If you are considering getting a pet, remember that animals require training and proper medical care. It can be a big expense, but a pet will pay you back ten-fold by enriching your life. If you decide to get a pet, shelter animals make excellent pets. Adopt, don’t shop. You will be saving a life and bettering your own.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?