Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic lung disease that causes immense anxiety, stress, and physical discomfort in patients. People of the dramatic life changes that people with COPD have to undergo, they often have to deal with depression and other psychological problems.
While breathing exercises for COPD can help whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can also use pet therapy to reduce your emotional distress. Pet therapy, also called animal-assisted therapy, uses a soothing technique that can be highly effective in alleviating anxiety and improving moods in depressed patients.
If you like the idea of playing with animals, there are ways you can make the most out of the psychological and emotional benefits service animals have to offer. Fortunately, there are endless opportunities for COPD patients to interact with companion animals and experience the unbelievable healing power of pets and animals.
Should You Consider Having a Pet?
If you suffer from COPD-related depression, anxiety, or chronic pain, having a pet by your side can be immensely beneficial in enhancing your mood and reducing the intensity of your psychological symptoms. Caring for an animal also offers an exhilarating sense of belonging and purpose, which on a regular basis, can improve both emotional and physical pain.
Owning a pet also makes it easier for you to establish a more regular and healthier daily routine. For instance, your pet’s morning walk schedule can help you wake up in the morning at a fixed time. Pets can encourage you to live a relatively active lifestyle. Because most pets require play time and exercise, it would serve as excellent opportunities for you to get up and move around.
Here are some of the critical benefits of pet therapy –
● Reduced stress
● Reduced anxiety
● Reduced loneliness
● Enhanced mood
● Increased social interaction
● Increased quality of life
However, many reasons can stop people with COPD from getting a pet. Because pets are major responsibility, many COPD patients do not have the energy or time to clean, feed, and care for a pet. Another concern for patients with COPD is that pets expose the house to additional respiratory irritants and allergens that can inflame the lungs further to worsen symptoms.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet as a COPD patient, here are a couple of things you must consider before making your decision. –
● Many pets, especially dogs, require a significant amount of attention and care from their owners. If you have difficulty walking or exercising because of COPD, you might not be able to physically care for your pets, often involving play time and regular walks.
● Pet fur can be an issue if your lungs are particularly sensitive to airborne particulates and allergens. Some pets don’t shed, but most pets shed a lot, and you need to keep that in mind before getting a pet. In addition, their fur also collects dust, pollution, pollen, and other irritants that can worsen your COPD.
● Some COPD patients find it difficult to manage everyday cleaning responsibilities. Your job will only increase when you own a pet, so you need to consider that as well.
● If you have difficulty exercising or performing physical tasks but want a pet, you may want to look at options that don’t require a lot of effort for care and clean-up, such as a bird, reptile, or fish.
What Can You Do When You Can’t Have a Pet?
If you cannot own a pet due to health concerns or don’t want the commitment of taking care of a pet while managing COPD, there are plenty of other ways you can interact with animals in your community.
You can try –
● Volunteering at an animal shelter or zoo
● Borrowing pets from your family and friends
● Joining a part-time pet sitting community
If you don’t mind getting a little creative, you could watch animal videos on the internet. Many zoos and animal shelters live-stream their activities, and it can be surprisingly soothing to watch animals do their thing on camera.
While pet therapy isn’t magically going to take away the psychological hardships you have to face as a COPD patient, it can definitely help you cope with anxiety and stress to an extent. For patients with COPD-related depression, interacting with pets also allows them to overcome feelings of isolation and loneliness.
In addition to pet therapy, you must regularly talk to a professional about your emotional issues. You can make the most of the counselling and support group services offered at your pulmonary rehabilitation program.
It’s important to note that pet therapy isn’t right for everybody, especially if you are allergenic or sensitive to pet dander. However, if you like the idea of being in close proximity to animals, talk to our doctor about it to actively seek out pet therapy groups and opportunities around you.