Mesothelioma patients may often feel alone, whether at a social gathering or isolated at home. How can you help? What if the mesothelioma patient could feel the unconditional love of a pet? The purr and warmth of a contented cat on a lap or the grateful tailwag and lick of a happy dog by their side?
The warmth and affection of a pet can add joy to the life of a mesothelioma patient for who so much has suddenly been subtracted. Pets may even provide subtle but significant health boosts for mesothelioma patients.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control states:
Pets can decrease:
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels
- Triglyceride levels
- Feelings of loneliness
Pets can increase:
- Opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
- Opportunities for socialization
Celebrity veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker who appears on “Good Morning America” and “The Dr. Oz Show” recently spoke about the healing power of pets at a conference. Adopt A Pet.Com, a nationwide nonprofit group that facilitates animal adoptions, published his remarks. We’ve recapped them for you here.
Pets Encourage Physical Activity
Having a pet can help encourage exercise and playtime. A mesothelioma patient in a wheelchair can dangle a toy mouse on a string for a playful cat or engage in a gentle tug of war with a gentle dog.
Pets Encourage Social Interaction
Pets are social magnets. Dr. Becker quipped that pets are the “cure for the common cold shoulder.”
Imagine sitting in a wheelchair at a park or social gathering. No one talks to you or even seems to notice your presence. Now imagine taking a friendly dog into those same situations. You’ll get more people smiling at you and stopping to talk than if you were alone. This documented magnet effect can benefit mesothelioma patients.
Pets Reduce Stress
According to Dr. Becker, just by touching our pets we feel a surge of prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that can help us feel better. These same hormones can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Having a pet can elevate serotonin and dopamine — hormones that lift depression — as well.
Animals sometimes sense when we need them. Pets tend to draw near when you’re feeling blue to provide emotional support. And pets get the same benefits from petting. Dr. Becker calls this the “love loop.”
Pets Improve Lives
Simply put, companion dogs and cats help us live healthier, happier lives. They provide unconditional love and ask for relatively little in return.
If the responsibility and added expense of caring for a pet does not fit your lifestyle, check with your physician or local hospital for local visiting pet organizations.