Pets & Recovery

Pets may not be addiction counselors or therapists, but they can be very effective in helping you during recovery. Long touted as man’s best friend, a dog is one of the most loyal companions you will ever find. And if you’re not into dogs, cats are also wonderful companions… and a bit more self-reliant.

Research has shown that having a pet can help lower blood pressure and stress, plus they can also help you in recovery. Here are some things to consider:

Pets will give you unconditional love

The recovery process can be hard and sometimes you lose people along the way, so having a pet that loves you unconditionally during this time can be a wonderful comfort. There’s nothing like having a dog that is excited to see you every time you walk in the door. They don’t care if you’re rich or good looking or the life of the party — they just want to be near you. And if you happen to stumble a bit along the way, they’re always there to help you get back on the wagon. They’ll listen whenever you need a friendly ear, and they’ll snuggle when you need comforting. And all their love costs is yours in return.

Pets help us exercise more

One of the best ways to keep your recovery on track is to exercise. It will help your body continue to heal, and your mind as well. And people with dogs tend to exercise more. — When you have a dog that needs to go out several times a day, it’s like having a built-in workout partner that you can’t ignore. In fact, studies have shown that people tend to walk more when they believe that it is good for their dog. (Funny how we’ll do it for the dog.) And unlike a workout partner, you never have to worry about your dog not having the time — they live to go on walks with you.

Pets make us more responsible and mindful

Caring for another living creature can really help us not only to be more responsible but more mindful as well. It forces us to become more observant because your pet can’t tell you when they are sick. You need to find other ways to communicate with your pet to be sure they are happy and healthy. You end up connecting with your pets on a deeper level because they give you a purpose. It’s a powerful feeling to be needed. Here’s this adorable animal that not only adores you but relies on you for everything from food and exercise to vet appointments and grooming. The overall responsibility of caring for your pet can be a great step in boosting your self-confidence and giving you the courage to move on to even bigger responsibilities.

Pets make us healthier, inside and out

Many studies have shown that having a pet can reduce stress, blood pressure, and even cholesterol. Pets just make us happier and healthier overall and can even help reduce the stress of recovery. Their presence has a calming effect and they can be beneficial to our mental health. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when a cat curls up on your lap or a dog brings you his favorite toy to play with him. And remember, playfulness is good for the soul — dogs will remind you that you need to play, often when you just aren’t in the mood. Taking time out to stop and have a little fun will reduce stress and remind you to focus on the good things in life.

There are so many ways that a pet can help you through recovery and just improve your life in general. However, it’s important to note that if you didn’t already have a pet before you started your recovery, please talk to your counselor or therapist to determine the best time for you to get a pet after becoming sober. The journey is different for everyone and you want to be sure you are in a place in your recovery where you can properly care for your pet. They will give you unconditional love and support so it’s absolutely necessary you can give them the same, along with a safe and healthy environment. Plus, having a pet is a big responsibility and you don’t want to take on anything that big too soon. But once you get to that point and bring a pet into your home, it will improve your life in ways you never imagined. You feel more loved, more secure, and wonder how you ever lived without them. And please, when you are ready to bring a pet into your life, please visit your local animal shelters and give a home to a pet in need. You’ll end up wondering who saved who.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance abuse disorder, please contact us.

Helpful articles about pets and recovery:

The Benefits of Pets in Recovery Programs

How do Pets make a Difference in Addiction Recovery?

How My Pet Saved Me From Addiction and Helps Me Manage My Sobriety

How Pets Ease the Stress of Recovery

Local animal shelters:

Boulder Valley Humane Society

Longmont Humane Society

Summit Dog Rescue

Foothills Animal Shelter

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