5 Health Advantages of Owning a Pet When Living With Psoriasis

by Alisha Bridges Patient Advocate

I often wondered how my psoriasis appeared in the big brown eyes of my furry four-legged friend T-Mac, the non-human friend who seemed to love me regardless of the flaky, crusty, dry, skin that virtually blanketed my entire body. While it felt like most of the outside world looked at my skin in disgust, it was as if it didn’t exist to my faithful dog, T-Mac.

I looked forward to arriving home and unlocking the door only to be met by T-Mac with a doggie football tackle and a loving snuggle with his little wet black nose. He couldn’t say the words, but his actions said, “I love you.”

There are great benefits to having a furry friend by your side. Read on to find out the health advantages of having a pet while living with psoriasis.

1. Pets Keep You Moving

Approximately 36 percent of individuals living with psoriasis will develop arthritis, the immune-mediated condition which impacts the joints causing stiffness, inflammation, and pain. Moderate exercise can help alleviate symptoms of psoriatic arthritis by decreasing joint pain, stiffness, weight, and more.

A pet such as a dog must be walked, a responsibility of a pet owner that also serves as a benefit for someone living with psoriasis. Walking your dog provides the low impact endurance you need to help loosen your joints. Depending on a dog’s size it is recommended to walk pets anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours a day, which is plenty of time to reap the benefits of physical activity for your condition.

2. Pets Help Your Heart

If you are living with psoriasis you have a greater risk of acquiring cardiovascular disease. A 12-year study conducted in Sweden revealed dog ownership is associated with lowering cardiovascular disease. The bond between a pet and its owner can lead to a fit life, as dog owners spend more time outdoors and increase the amount of physical activity.

3. Pets Regulate Hormones and Aid Mental Health

The physical activity required to raise a cuddly animal, not to mention the bonding that happens, also helps regulate your hormones, which, in turn, stabilizes your mental health. Studies reveal a simple gesture such as petting a furry friend can help regulate endorphins, the hormones responsible for triggering positive feelings.

4. Pets Reduce Loneliness

Many people living with psoriasis report feeling lonely, isolated, and excluded due to the shame and embarrassment of having a visible disease. Owning a pet will help you feel less lonely. You can look forward to coming home to a fuzzy companion to greet you with love at the front door. Having a pet may decrease levels of stress and depression.

5. Pets Give You a Chance to Socialize

Owning a pet, especially a dog, will also give you the opportunity to interact with other pet owners. You could meet someone new at the pet store, the dog park, or while strolling down the street. Animals have a way of bringing people together.

In summary, having a pet has great benefits when you are living with a chronic condition like psoriasis. However, be realistic about the work involved. When you live with psoriasis, it’s especially important to keep up with your pet’s routine checkup to the vet to minimize sickness, to wash your hands often, and to minimize pet dander with clean habits around your home.

Alisha Bridges
Meet Our Writer
Alisha Bridges

Alisha Bridges has dealt with psoriasis since 7 years old after a bad case of chicken pox triggered her disease to spread on over 90% of her body. For years she hid in shame afraid of what people would think of such a visible disease. She has suffered from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks due to psoriasis. Years ago Alisha wrote a letter entitled “My Suicide Letter.” The letter was not about actually killing herself but killing parts of her like low self-esteem, fear, and shame so she could truly live to her fullest potential. This proclamation catapulted her into psoriasis and patient advocacy. Following this letter she created a blog entitled Being Me In My Own Skin where she gives intimate details of what it’s like to live with psoriasis. Alisha is a community ambassador for the National Psoriasis Foundation and has served her community in countless ways to help give a better understanding of what’s it’s like to live with psoriasis. Her life motto is the following: “My purpose is to change the hearts of people by creating empathy and compassion for those the least understood through transparency of self, patient advocacy, and dermatology.” Alisha is also a Social Ambassador for the HealthCentral Skin Health Facebook page.