"Animals are the bridge between us and the beauty of all that is natural. They show us what's missing in our lives, and how to love ourselves more completely and unconditionally. They connect us back to who we are, and to the purpose of why we're here." ― Trisha McCagh
Pets helping with chronic pain. It makes complete sense! In this article we are going to take a look at how pets can help with low back pain. We explore how having a great relationship with your furever friend can help heal your body, your mind, and your heart!
Some key ways how pets can help with low back pain include:
Help you connect more and decrease feelings of loneliness/isolation
Boost your immune system
Our furry little friends (or those with scales, if that’s more your thing) play such an important role in our lives. Pets are part of our everyday lives and they are an integral part of our families.
Forbes magazine reports that as of June 2023 some '66% of U.S households own a pet'. That equates to almost 90 million homes! And the number of pet owners is steadily increasing.
Pet Ownership On The Increase
During the pandemic in 2020, as more people spent time in their homes, many decided that this would be the perfect time to adopt a pet. There were lengthy waiting lists at shelters and as quick as animals were coming in, they were being scooped up by families.
Pets were finding their furever homes at a furious rate - we should know - half of our company added a new furever friend to their family during the pandemic.
Sadly, as things returned to pre-pandemic conditions and more people returned to the office, more pets were returned back to the very shelters that they came from.
Despite this, pet ownership remains at some of its highest levels ever seen.
Healing Powers of Pets
Pets make perfect companions and can provide us with emotional support but did you know that pets can have real benefits on our health?
Research has shown that pets can help reduce our stress levels and our sense of loneliness by encouraging us to increase our social activities. And pets aren't just good for adults, they are great for children too, adding to a child's self-esteem and positive emotional development.
Pets In Hospital Settings?
More and more, besides being the best companions you could ask for, pets are being recognized for their amazing healing powers. It is becoming a common occurrence to see pets being used in hospitals and outpatient clinics to help speed along recovery and provide comfort and reassurance to those undergoing medical procedures.
We recently saw an article where a dog was being used to comfort another dog who was about to have surgery. So what’s the deal with pets and their magical healing powers and how does it all work?
Let's take a look at the magic behind our mysterious but wonderful companions.
Pets Can Help With Pain
In the journal Pain Medicine, researchers studied how brief therapy dog visits could help patients at a pain management clinic. Over a period of two months, they looked at patients’ self reported feelings of pain, distress and fatigue. There were almost 300 therapy dog visits compared with 96 animal-free waiting room visits.
They found that there were significant improvements for pain and mood in patients who received the therapy dog visits compared to those who did not have therapy dog visits. They also saw improvements in the mood or family and friends of the patients, as well as the staff after the therapy dog visits.
The research showed that petting your furry friend for just 10 to 15 minutes can actually reduce the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) that is in your body.
Pets can Reduce Your Blood Pressure
Not only do pets force us to exercise more with all the walks and playing that they love so much, but in a study of 240 married couples, they found that couples who owned a pet had lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn’t have a pet.
They also saw improvements in cholesterol levels for pet owners, suggesting that pets are good for your heart - in more ways than one.
Pets Are Good For Your Heart
When it comes to matters of the heart, pet owners scored in all categories. In a study of cat owners researchers found that, over a period of 20 years, those people who owned a cat were 40% less likely to die of a heart attack than non-cat owners!
Doctors aren’t sure why cats seem to have such a heart-positive effect but they suspect that it could be because cats tend to have a more calming effect on their owners than other pets.
You Always Have A Workout Buddy
Even in a post-pandemic environment, people are still working out at home. If you are a pet owner then you have probably found that your furry friend always wants to help out or participate in your at-home workouts.
The minute the yoga mat comes out it is highly likely that your pet will want to get in on the action. If goat yoga can be a thing, then we am sure people can’t object to Cat yoga or (and this is apparently a real thing) Doga - yoga with your dog!
We can't help but wonder, isn’t that why so many yoga poses are named after animals anyway?
Pets Help You Connect More
Pets are one of the world’s greatest ice breakers when it comes to striking up conversations with people. “What kind of dog is that?” “May I pet your dog?”. People often stop and chat with those who are walking their dogs.
Pets have turned into such a social activity that, over the past five to ten years, dog parks with food trucks have boomed in popularity, popping up all over the place. Many parks even offer alcoholic beverages for you to enjoy while you and your pup socialize.
Socializing with others is a great way to stay connected and reduce depression and isolation which have been shown to increase chronic pain conditions like low back pain.
Pets Boost Your Immune System
While many people think that pets are unclean, or that their fur can cause allergies, often times pets can have quite the opposite effect on our bodies. Studies have shown that children who grow up in a home with pets are often less likely to develop allergies than those who don’t grow up with a pet.
Dr. Jordan Peccia, a professor of environmental engineering at Yale University says that "exposure to animal micro-organisms during the first three months of life helps to stimulate a child’s immune system so that it doesn’t become overly sensitive later in life."
A study published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine found that Amish children in Indiana who grew up close to barnyard animals had far lower rates of asthma than Hutterite children, who were raised apart from animals on large mechanized farms in North Dakota.
This research seems to show that having a pet can actually strengthen your immune system, reducing the risk of developing allergies later on in life.
Your immune system also plays a key role in inflammation and chronic pain conditions, so having a strong immune system can mean less low back pain.
Whether or not you have a health condition, pets can make an amazing addition to your family but it is important to remember that the decision to add a pet to your family is certainly a big one. Sadly many animals are often re-homed or sent back to the shelter once the family realizes that it takes a lot of time and money to care for our furry friends.
Before buying a pet it is important to consider the unique needs of your family. Consider the type of time and commitment that will suit your lifestyle, or lifespan. For instance, did you know that African Grey parrots can live up to 60 years in captivity? And a tortoise can live for up to 100 years! Do you know someone who would want to inherit your parrot when you pass?
Whatever your fancy, when you are ready to make that decision, some additional good news is that it looks like there are more benefits to pet ownership than we even realized.
So maybe it is time to head to your local animal shelter for a new pet, or just celebrate the one that you already have with a special treat on National Love Your Pet Day.