5 Ways My Dogs Help Me Through an IBD Flare

They say there are two types of people: team dog and team cat. If you're team cat then a) what's wrong with you?! b) this is not the article for you. If you're team dog, then let's just take a moment to think about how AMAZING our canine companions really are. So amazing, in fact, that I want to dedicate a whole article to my pair of poodles. Because I really do believe that my two dogs are vital in helping me get through life with IBD. Here's why:

1. They give me routine

When IBD hits, we can sometimes not leave the house for days. Whilst this is understandable, in my case it's sometimes a fear of feeling unwell that prevents me from leaving; as opposed to the symptoms themselves.

That's where my two pooches come in: because, rain or shine, they need walking and that 10 or 15 minutes each day where they drag me outside, is often when I'm feeling best. Even though I might not feel like it at the time, walking them first thing can actually set a tone for the rest of the day. I've got this! I'm dressed! I've left the house before lunchtime. I'm lucky my walking route has a public toilet but I'm pretty sure I've never had to use it.

Although the pressure of having to take care of something might seem stressful, this type of routine is actually really beneficial for those of us with a chronic illness. It can make us feel that like is normal, and we're still capable of something when life seems impossible.

2. They listen to me cry when nobody else will

I'm a pretty positive person but sometimes, just sometimes, I just want to have a cry and ask 'why me?!' I actually find my dogs the perfect companion for this kind of activity. Not only will they listen without interruption but if I'm really sad, they'll even offer to lick my tears away- which is a pretty selfless act.

3. They stop me feeling isolated

It's easy to cut yourself off with IBD. As much as I like to lead a normal life, sometimes socialising seems impossible. Being off alcohol and having a million food intolerances does not a sociable companion make. A night alone is pretty lonely but with my dogs, not so much.

4. They're scientifically proven to help our health

Yes, it's true! Studies, where patients in the hospital are visited by their pets showed all sorts of benefits. For example, one study reported that those patients who used pet therapy dogs 'had significant decreases in pain, respiratory rate and negative mood state and a significant increase in perceived energy level. Quantitative and qualitative findings provide support for decreased tension/anxiety and fatigue/inertia and improved overall mood.' (The full article can be found here)

So, having a pooch by your side can help with pain levels, boost our mood and even help with fatigue? I'm sold!

5. They force me to stop and take a moment

Even if we are feeling rubbish, life goes on. We know self-care is super important but work and life get in the way. But my dogs are all about promoting me time. Whether it's walks, playtime or just lying on the sofa for a Netflix marathon- all these activities force me to not only take a step back but also be grateful for all the wonderful things I have.

So while we're all grateful for our medical team, our friends and our families, let's also take a minute to give our fluffy friends a massive hug for all they do for us too!

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