Why Getting A Dog Can Help You With Your Diabetes

diabetes and pets

When many of us look back at our childhood, we can picture a four legged friend that got us through it all. From running with us through sprinklers on a hot summer day to burying our faces into their fur after our first heartbreak, our four-legged friends stood by our side eager to help in any way they could. As we got older, these cherished friends might have passed on and with the pain of losing them too fresh, we didn’t consider getting a new dog. As the heartbreak lessened and time wore on, life became chaotic and the desire of having a loyal companion became erased by the demands of work, cooking, cleaning, and more.  We ask you to reflect back on these happy moments in your childhood and imagine the fulfillment that having a dog will bring you. For those living with diabetes, there are many positive benefits that can help you deal with your condition. Read on to learn about why getting a pet dog can have incredibly positive effects on your health.

Lower rates of depression

People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than those without diabetes. This is where pets can come in to alleviate these feelings of depression. Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. This can partially be attributed to the fact that simply petting an animal lowers the stress hormone cortisol, while increasing the feel good hormone oxytocin. Diabetes comes with a lot of emotional baggage, but having a pet dog can make dealing with that burden easier.

Improved exercise routine

For those living with Type 2 diabetes, it has been argued that diet and exercise can put diabetes into remission. What this means is no longer having to rely on medication to manage your insulin levels, but simply managing it through a continued healthy diet and fitness routine. Pet dogs also need exercise to maintain their health too. As a result, having a four legged companion can help you find the motivation you need to get moving. As they depend on you to take them out, it will make you step outside of the house and get those steps in. Going for a walk is always much more fun when you have somebody with you! 

Great way to meet new people and get support

Common interests and shared experiences are usually how we end up meeting and getting to know one another. Think about how you made friends in the past. Maybe you bonded with them over a television series you both liked or maybe you were lost in the middle of foreign country and they were a traveller too!  The point is that these moments and experiences bond us together.  Maybe the next time at the dog park, your dog will be curious about one of the other dogs and you will make friends with the owner. It can be tough to meet people nowadays but social support is something that should not be overlooked. In fact, recent research suggests that great social support can lead to lower diabetes distress. 

Your own personal superhero

We’ve all seen stories on the news about heroic dogs “Dog saves owner’s life by running to get help” or “Dog alerts owner of a fire, saving the entire family.” These headlines not only make us feel good and provide us with much needed good news, but are a reminder of the keen senses that dogs possess. While not all dogs have the same abilities as others, a pet dog could be trained to alert others in the event of a medical emergency. This can become incredibly important in the event that you feel faint during a hypoglycemic episode. There are even dogs that are specifically trained to be diabetic service dogs. These dogs can detect rapidly dropping blood sugars and are able to alert their owners to take action. Whether or not your dog is a service dog, the fact remains that your dog might be able to help out in the event of an emergency and become your own personal superhero. 

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list on how a pet dog can help you with your diabetes but simply a start. So whether or not you get a furry friend, know support is just one download away! With a furry friend by your side, you will join the 67% of American households that already have one. Not only will you have diabetes in common with your fellow community members but you can bond over your love for your pets together. 

Carolina Clarke
Carolina Clarke is the marketing copywriter at The Diabetes App. She is passionate about social issues, travel, and fitness. She is a diabetes supporter and is dedicated to providing those living with diabetes with resources to help manage their diabetes. A desire to help is at the forefront of everything she writes.

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