If you've ever returned to the warm, fuzzy comforts of a pet after a hard day, you certainly know how supportive having the love of an animal can be.
Animal-Assisted Therapies, which have steadily been on the rise over the past 100 years, have been shown to provide comfort and reduce cardiovascular and generalized stress for patients across diverse backgrounds.1
We asked our readers* to share stories of how their pets have helped improve their lives. We've collected several of our favorite responses to share.
While we realize that having a pet may not be practical for everyone, we hope you'll enjoy these snapshots. And who knows? Maybe you'll find room in your life for a new companion if you don't have one already.
Casper helped Dolly recover from spine surgery
Dolly sent us a shot of her black-and-white cat, and added, "When I was recovering from spine surgery, she was always within reach on the couch so I could pet her. Having her there was a constant comfort. I think they really know when we need special attention!"
Felix, Cooper, and Casper help Wanda live with chronic back pain
Wanda suffers from chronic low back pain and sciatica, which sometimes makes it hard for her to sleep. She notes, "During the nights when I cannot sleep, my animals stay up with me and keep me company. I can get my guinea pig Felix out of his pen [to] sit on the couch with me."
Wanda continues, "Cooper the Corgi and Casper the cat play and make me smile. I sit there for hours in the house and rant and vent my problems to them. I know they understand because they comfort me and show affection. They are so beautiful. I live for them. They give me something to look forward to everyday. Coming home to my furbabies makes my day, every day."
Wanda says,"They give me a reason to get outside and enjoy the sunshine."
Precious helps Catherine feel understood
Catherine, who was diagnosed with Arnold-Chiari malformation as well as fibromyalgia, noted the benefits she receives from her puppy, Precious, who she has nicknamed Love Bug: "My sweet Love Bug gets me through a lot because she loves and understands me when no others do. She has my whole heart!"
Peanut helps Renee stay positive
Renee suffers from chronic back pain, migraines, and depression. She said that her dog, Peanut, helps keep her afloat when she's feeling down: "Peanut is the creature that keeps me from slipping back into depression, which I'm prone to from the constant pain. I work really hard to keep out of the depression and stay positive, and Peanut is the perfect partner to encourage me - she's such a moron and makes me laugh all the time."
Oliver welcomes his mom home from surgery
After four days in the hospital for lumbar fusion surgery, Margaret shared the following photo of her dog, Oliver, showering her with kisses when she returned home.
Thank you to all our readers who contributed to this post. We'd love to hear more stories about how your pets have helped you cope with your back pain.
*Patient names have been changed to protect their privacy.
- Halm, Margo A. "The Healing Power of the Human-Animal Connection." American Journal of Critical Care 17, no. 4 (July 1, 2008): 373–76.