Pets have always been integral parts of the family to which they belong. A pet dog and the unconditional love he has for his ‘family’ is something worth cherishing.
Not everyone has the good fortune of owning a dog, but medical research has shown that dog ownership has more benefits than we have ever imagined.
A sense of companionship, a feeling of being loved and wanted, and sensory stress relief are all benefits of dog ownership. Pets are found to be especially useful to elderly and disabled people who often grapple with problems of loneliness and ill-health.
Pets offer sensory stress relief where you can cuddle, touch and hug a loving animal. And there is no better feeling than coming home to wet kisses and boundless love.
If you are disabled and wheelchair-bound, a dog will be a perfect companion for you helping you ease into a more active, engaged and healthy lifestyle. Here are a few ways in which pets help people with disability.
1. Pets Provide the Much Needed Exercise
Most wheelchair users restrict their movement and physical activity to a great extent. If you are confined to the wheelchair for most part of the day it will be great if you bring home a pet.
It has been found that a pet dog can increase your level of physical activity greatly, almost helping you meet the 150-minute moderate activity per week recommended as per the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
A dog needs to go out to eliminate itself at least every 8 hours, and the frequency is more for smaller dogs and pups. When you are a dog owner you will get into the habit of leading your pet out for walks a few times a day, thus getting you outdoors.
Invest in quality mobility vehicles to make it easy and convenient to take your dog for a stroll. You breathe fresh air, feel relaxed, meet new people and also gets a light workout for the body.
2. Pets Keep Depression in Check
Pets are a powerful source of positivity. They alleviate feelings of loneliness and sadness.
Your pet enjoys having you around him and misses you terribly when you are away. That feelings of being wanted, loved and cherished in a truly tender way are some of the best takeaways from owning a dog.
You feel responsible for a living thing, and his needs and wants begin to take a precedence over yours. You forget to focus on your problems and pain, and life becomes more meaningful. Isolation and loneliness can lead to far more serious conditions like depression which when left unaddressed can take away years from your life.
You will realize that your loving and cuddly pet is a whiff of fresh air in your life and makes everything worthwhile again.
3. A Pet Brings down Stress Levels
Reduced stress levels is another welcome benefit of owning a pet dog.
A dog is finely attuned to the emotions and moods of his owner. If you are feeling low he tries to pep you up, tugging at your sleeve he, wants to go for a walk. He loves you and does not want to see you in low spirits.
These positive feelings rub off on you as well and helps you feel better.
A dog is also very physical in his displays of affection. Research has shown that sensory touch and the feeling of being physically close to someone alleviates tension, produces happy hormones and uplifts your mood.
Having a dog can make things livelier and fun at home for a wheelchair user.
4. A Pet Dog Is a Pleasant Responsibility
Many disabled people hesitate from getting pet dogs because they fear they will not be able to carry out all responsibilities of pet ownership. You might wonder that when you struggle to take care of all your needs how it will be possible to take care of a living animal. But this is an unnecessary worry.
A new responsibility will help bring a positive and refreshing focus in your life. You realize that you are far more capable than you ever imagined and that you are perfectly fine in meeting all needs of your pet who is totally dependent on you.
5. A Pet Builds Habits
It has been proven by medical research that a set pattern or daily routine helps alleviate depression. When you bring a pet dog home you realize that you need to follow an organized daily routine.
You want your pet to develop good habits and this can only be done by making them a part of their daily routine.
Daily walks, timely meals and scheduled play become a part of your day as well, giving you a new purpose and way of doing things.
Lively pet dogs bring variety, newness and entertainment into your life, making things function smoothly.
Since you set and follow schedules, you are left with little time in the day to feel sorry for yourself, helpless or sad.
In short a pet keeps you busy and occupied both of which are great for well-being.
6. A Pet Helps You Make New Friends
A disabled wheelchair user may get far lesser opportunities to go out, meet new people and socialize. A pet can act as a great social lubricant easing you back into the ‘social mode’ again.
Elderly people have reported cases where their pets have drawn them out of their reclusive existence and helped them make friends and conversations.
Other dog lovers will stop by to chat with you on your walks, or in a dog park. You also get to meet and bond with other dog owners in pet shops, training centers or at the vet’s clinic.
A pet will help you build and maintain relationships and stay connected. This will help fill up the void left behind by near and dear ones who have moved away due to retirement, relocation, illnesses or death, and help you build lasting relationships again.
A pet brings with it several advantages and those mentioned above are only a handful. Get home a furry friend to experience the joys of dog ownership to the full, and become healthy and fit in the bargain. Choose the pet breed with care and you will have made one of the best decisions ever.