Six Reasons People With Diabetes Should Own A Pet… And One Reason They Shouldn’t

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Managing diabetes can be difficult enough. From the moment you wake up, you have to be mindful of blood sugar levels and how your day’s plans may affect your ability to manage your glycemic index. Simply grabbing a quick donut and heading out the door is not an option.

If you already have your hands full with diabetes management, it may seem like a bad idea to add pet management to your daily roster.

However, there are some compelling reasons why pets can be particularly helpful for those living with diabetes.

If you’ve been considering adding a pet to your family, here are a few facts that may encourage you to go for it:

1. Stress Relief and Management

While there are plenty of studies that link pet ownership and reduced stress levels, it rarely takes more than personal experience to know that petting an animal helps make you calmer and happier. Studies have also shown that pet owners can more quickly bounce back from stressful situations and may have milder responses to stress to begin with. According to ADW Diabetes, “Cuddling a pet or even watching one can calm you down and even lower your blood pressure.” Are you smiling right now just thinking about snuggling a playful puppy or cute kitten? We thought so.

In a 2016 study by Louise Maranda and Olga T. Gupta, it was noted that stress can have a negative impact on self-care and glycemic control. While this is likely no surprise to those living with diabetes, the study specifically took a look at how animal companionship can moderate stress. “Research has shown that animals can ameliorate the effects of potentially stressful life events, reduce anxiety levels, loneliness and depression, and enhance feelings of autonomy, competence and self-esteem.”

In a study that took a look at stress in cat owners as compared to dog owners, Lawrence McGill, veterinary pathologist, noted that, “it is the petting that brings down stress levels.” It follows that any animal you enjoy petting (and that doesn’t mind being pet) may have a stress-reducing effect.

2. Loyal Companionship

An animal friend is a great friend to have because they never hold grudges, will always be happy to see you, and will never think any outfit makes you look fat. Having an animal around reduces loneliness, and their unconditional love can boost mood and self-esteem. If you live alone, having a pet means you’ll always have a listening ear, and it may even help provide opportunities for human social interaction while you take your pet out for walks or to the pet store. If you live with family or friends, a pet provides something even the best of friends struggle with: unlimited listening capacity and zero unsolicited advice or comments.

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Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.