Animals are natural caregivers. They are in tune with people. They know when you are upset or sick and can provide a comforting presence just by being near you. Therefore it makes sense that individuals with multiple sclerosis, or any chronic illness, have pets around the house. On top of these benefits, animals, dogs specifically, can be important therapy animals or service animals. These animals give specifically trained guidance to the people that need it the most.
Therapy and Service Animals
Although the names seem similar, there is a difference between a therapy animal in a service animal. A therapy animal is often used to provide emotional support. Due to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines, therapy animals are not allowed in the same places that service animals are, such as restaurants or stores. Service animals on the other hand are highly trained and can be specifically trained to identify certain medical conditions, such as blood sugar dysregulation or seizures. ADA guidelines allow service animals in most places. Considering there is specific and sometimes lengthy training involved with these animals, they can be rather expensive. However, there are still numerous benefits to having pets even if they are not specifically trained as therapy or service animals.
One of the best reasons for having a pet is to have a companion. Even if you’re living with a significant other or a partner, having a pet around seems to bring another level of understanding and friendship. As I mentioned above, pets seem to know when something isnt feeling quite right, and they know exactly what to do. Just sit and be with you.
A close second on the list is stress reduction. It has also been scientifically proven that petting animals can reduce stress, and even sitting close to one can be beneficial. Even if you don’t have your own animal, heading to a friends house who does, having them come over or going to a shelter and visiting those animals (or even volunteering!) can still do you good.
All animals need some form of exercise, and if you have a dog, that exercise will often include you! Getting outside with your pet will be wonderful for your health as well as your relationship with your pet. Getting some movement out side will be great for both your physical and mental health. Plus the vitamin D will help too!
Having a pet brings joy and excitement to your life. When you’re living with chronic illness, there are many other benefits that pets can bring as well. Obviously, there are things to consider when getting a pet, how easy will it be to care for the pet, if someone lives with you to help with the pet if there is a big financial commitment of having a pet etc. But in my opinion, if your situation allows you the opportunity of a pet, I’d take it with open arms.