Study Finds Pets Can Help Women Better Cope With Chronic Illness

Sharon Thomas, who participated in a Case Western Reserve University study, and believes in the tremendous health benefits of owning her dog and cat.
Sharon Thomas took part in the study with her dog and cat.

Looks like there’s yet another reason to get a dog or cat: A pet may just help you cope with a chronic illness. A study recently conducted at Case Western Reserve University found that owning a pet was beneficial to women living with HIV/AIDS.

“Pets — primarily dogs — gave these women a sense of support and pleasure,” said Allison R. Webel, a nursing instructor who led the study. "We think this finding about pets can apply to women managing other chronic illnesses."

In an interview that the university posted on YouTube, Webel added, “We were really surprised by the central role that pets really seem to have in helping [women in the study].”

Why Women Did Best With Some Pet Companionship

According to Webel, the structure of feeding, walking and otherwise caring for pets “leads the women to best manage their health.”

Of course, cuddly company doesn’t hurt, either.

“It’s almost vital,” said study participant Sharon Thomas, a dog and cat owner who has been coping with HIV since 1988. “The companionship is a big thing. Taking care of the two of them takes care of me automatically.”


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