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Three Ways Pets Can Help Ease Chronic Illness

by Caeleigh Alexander

Editor’s Note: For this post, we asked our readers to submit their pets, so that they may be included in a slideshow at the bottom of this article. Pets can help in a variety of ways, and some of our readers shared how their furry friends have helped them. Our blog post is a collaboration with Eighty-Six The Endo. For more information on pet therapy (and cute animal photos), check out their blog here.


Anyone with endometriosis knows that the disease can make life difficult. The effects can significantly alter one’s emotional and physical capabilities. Endometriosis can also impact our social interactions, work obligations, and can prevent us from living a “normal” inconvenience-free life.

But there is a way to ease the pain and frustration of carrying the mental weight of such a disease! Some studies suggest that dogs, cats, and pets, in general, may provide endless support for those with endometriosis or other types of chronic illnesses by helping to improve mood or anxiety.

Woman kissing dog
Maeve courtesy of Rosemarie Philip of Endo Will Not Win

Here are three ways in which having pets can help you feel better:

1. Routine and Exercise

Having a dog that requires attention and exercise gives you a reason to get up and get out! Though the activities we can do are limited in the pandemic, one liberty we are allowed to take is the occasional walk. Those with dogs, however, end up walking once a day. This simple routine provides regular exercise that has been proven to reduce inflammation. Not only is there a benefit from daily walks, but getting up to feed and take care of your pets gives you a reason to be active in the day. Other house pets can have the same effect! Hamsters and cats don’t need a leash and walk around the park, but they need love and attention as well.

2. Healthy and Pain-Free Living

Endometriosis is a disease that causes inflammation, cramps, bloating, and pelvic pain. Elevated blood pressure can cause an inflammatory response in areas affected by endometriosis, but your pets can help with that. Spending time with your animal companions can lower your blood pressure and relieve the painful symptoms. So, your pets can be your prescriptions. Being around animals also decreases anxiety. You are not only meant to take care of your pets but they can take care of you too! Maisha Johnson talks about how her dog, Della, always knows when she's in pain before she does! Dogs and other animals can fill this need in our lives and provide an understanding presence.

dog lying on grass near blue house
Kylee courtesy of Madeleine Kopp.

3. Filling the missing role of society

Jessie Madrigal wrote a blog about how her little weiner dogs guide her through her life and give her comfort when she has to cancel on social events from pain. She talks about how they never judge her Garfield pajamas and are always down for a cuddle. When facing social disappointments or emotional lows, pets never judge and will always be there to lay in bed with you. Even family can find difficulty in understanding your pain, but a friendly sidekick with a wagging tail will always blindly support you.

Overall, our furry companions provide us with love and support! They give us a reason to get up in the morning and stay active! They allow us to step outside of the endometriosis bubble and give purpose to our actions. Plus, they're super cute while doing it!

Caeleigh Alexander is an EFHou intern.

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