Having a dog when you have lupus is fantastic. Not just dog, but any animal that provides you comfort, because they can really be there in ways that humans can’t and I know that that sounds kind of silly especially if you haven’t owned an animal, but in periods where I’ve been in severe flares and haven’t been able to work or haven’t been able to do anything, other’s people’s lives they just go on, don’t they? Your partner goes to work, your parents go to work, your children go off and go to school.
However, if you have an animal, a lot of times that animal can perceive that you are not feeling well and they will come and they will sit with you all day and provide you tons and tons of comfort, which is fantastic and it’s a great way to minimize your feelings of depression and hopelessness when you are suffering from a flare.
Another thing that is great about having animals when you have lupus is that it forces you to get out of your own head, especially if you are suffering from depression in lupus. If you don’t have an animal, sometimes it is easy when you’re flaring or flaring slash depressed to fall out of a routine completely, just lay in bed all day and watch TV. Well, you can do this obviously when you have a pet. Having a pet kind of establishes a routine for you because they have a time that they need to be fed, they have a time that they need to be walked, and they have time when they need to be played with and things like that. So it allows you to get up, think about something besides yourself for a few minutes. Not to say that you’re selfish with lupus, but it can help take your mind off the pain, take your mind off the depression and focus on something else.
One thing I did want to stress about having an animal with lupus is that you need to be able to take care of the pet’s needs. So if you have lupus so badly that it’s hard for you to get out of bed some days, or you don’t have a partner or children, or you don’t live with your parents or anyone that can help you, it’s probably not the best idea to have a pet unless you have some kind of reinforcement or you have money to hire someone to come in and feed and walk the dog or let the cat out or do whatever you need to do. Because even though animals provide comfort for us, they also need to have their needs met for them. So it’s important that you’re able to meet the animal’s needs. The animal that I have, like I said, is a nine year old Shih Tzu, and I got him when he was a year and a half.
I rescued him and I selected a Shih Tzu mostly because they don’t require a ton of exercise. He does get walked once a day. Now he’s not feeling as good as he used to because he’s had a lot of health problems. But when he was feeling a lot better, I try to walk him once a day. I talked to the vet about this before I adopted him. If he doesn’t get a walk, it’s okay as long as he’s walking around the house and playing with his toys and doing things like that. It’s important that you take into account the pet’s exercise needs and things like that before you adopt a pet, because if you adopt a big Labrador, if you don’t have a partner or somebody that can help you take care of him, and take the dog on walks and hikes and things like that, it can be very cruel for them because they do need quite a lot of exercise. So that is something to take into account and there are smaller breeds of dogs, and cats are always low maintenance, and other animals that you can get that don’t require a ton of exercise and maintenance that can still keep you company.