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7 Ways Owning a Dog Can Help if You Have Psoriasis

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on September 15, 2021

Dogs make life more exciting in many ways. But they also offer great benefits to your mental and physical health, especially if you have a long-term disease like psoriasis. Your four-legged friend can offer you extra support and have a positive impact your health as you live with the symptoms of your condition.

Your lifestyle choices and overall health can affect how comfortable your life is with psoriasis. A furry friend can have an impact on your well-being in many ways:

No. 1. Improves your heart health. Psoriasis is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. One analysis, which looked at studies between 1950 and 2019, found that people who owned dogs had a lower risk of death in the long term. The review suggests that this was because dog owners tend to have a reduced chance of death from cardiovascular issues. Dog owners tend to have lower blood pressure levels and better responses to stress, which is a major cause of many heart issues.

A pet can also lower your chance of cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol and heart rate issues.

No. 2. Encourages exercise. One risk of psoriasis is inflammation. Those who work out tend to have less inflammation in their bodies, which could play a large role if you have psoriasis. One study showed that intense exercise can help lower the risk of psoriasis in women by 25%-30%.

A dog can greatly affect the amount of exercise you get each day. One study found that dog owners are about four times more likely to meet their daily physical activity guidelines than those who don't have a dog. On average, people with dogs spend about 300 minutes every week on walks, which is 200 more minutes than those without a canine companion.

No. 3. Eases isolation. A dog can improve your emotional and mental health when you have psoriasis. The condition may lead some people to feel isolated at times. Owning a dog can make you feel less alone. They can provide unconditional love, cuddles, and support. In a study done with a sample of dog owners, researchers found that once people got a dog, their levels of loneliness lowered within 3 months. A national survey also shows that 76% of people -- both dog owners and nondog owners -- believe that a pet can fight social isolation.

No. 4. Helps you connect with others. Your dog can help you become more social in many ways. During walks, they're great conversation starters. They make you seem more approachable and can be a great way to get to know strangers and form new friendships.

One study suggests that dog owners were much more likely to form bonds with those in their neighborhood compared with nondog owners. Researchers also found that 40% of pet owners agreed that they receive one or more forms of social support from people they met through their pet.

If you find that your psoriasis sometimes makes it hard to connect with your friends, family, and your romantic partner, a dog can help facilitate these relationships and help spark conversation.

No. 5. Lowers stress. Experts believe that dogs can help ease stress and anxiety. Stress can be a common trigger for a flare if you have psoriasis. Because of this, it's important to manage your anxiety and tension. In addition to meditation, exercise, and stress-relief methods, owning a dog may also help you control your flare-ups.

Petting a familiar dog can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, relax your muscle tension, and slow your breathing. Studies show that just 10 minutes of petting a dog can have a huge impact. People in this study saw a drop in levels of in the stress hormone cortisol.

No. 6. Fights depression. If your psoriasis leads you to feel depressed, it's important to get help from a mental health professional. But owning a dog may be one way to help boost your mood. Your oxytocin and dopamine hormone levels go up when you play with a dog, which creates good feelings and bonds between you and your pet.

Dogs offer companionship, which can help you manage symptoms of depression. A pet can also give you responsibilities that give you purpose and make you feel wanted. Since dogs need lots of attention and care, they'll often keep your focus away from your depression.

No. 7. Makes you feel happier. Dogs are calming companions that can help you foster friendships and ease tension in your life. If you feel down, a pet can motivate you to get out of bed, complete your daily tasks, and stay on top of your schedule. All these factors can give your life structure and cause you to feel satisfied and accomplished.

 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Cureus: "Psoriasis and Cardiovascular Diseases: A Literature Review to Determine the Causal Relationship."

Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes: "Dog Ownership and Survival."

American Kennel Club: "10 Science-Based Benefits of Having a Dog."

Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges: "Therapeutic Benefits of Pets."

Harvard Health Publishing: "Preventing psoriasis with exercise."

Scientific Reports: "Dog owners are more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than people without a dog: An investigation of the association between dog ownership and physical activity levels in a UK community."

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Causes and Triggers," "Life with Psoriasis."

BMC Public Health: "Companion dog acquisition and mental well-being: a community-based three-arm controlled study."

Human Animal Bond Research Institute: "Social Isolation and Loneliness."

PLOS One: "The Pet Factor - Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support."

Anthrozoös: "Domestic Dogs as Facilitators in Social Interaction: An Evaluation of Helping and Courtship Behaviors," "Does a Dog's Presence Make a Person Appear More Likable?: Two Studies."

AERA Open: "Animal Visitation Program (AVP) Reduces Cortisol Levels of University Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial."

National Alliance on Mental Illness: "How Dogs Can Help with Depression."

American Humane: "Benefits of Owning A Dog."

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