A woman stares lovingly at her dachshund with a basset hound leaning on her shoulder

3 Ways My Pets Help Me Through A Migraine

I’m a dog person. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a dog friend to keep me company. When I was 5 years old, my big red Irish Setter helped me feel safe in the dark while he slept at the foot of my bed. When I was in high school, my goofy English Setter woke me up every morning for school with kisses and happy hugs. But then I love cats, too.

How have pets helped my migraine?

Living alone in my first apartment, I had a small furry-purring roommate who enjoyed cuddles and watching television on cold winter nights. My pets have always been there for me. And when my migraines began, their kisses and cuddles didn't stop - they increased. My two dogs and kitty cat somehow know I need extra support on my down days. I'm always in awe at how they instinctively understand this, and I appreciate every extra hug. Here are 3 ways my pets help me out when I have a migraine.

Number 1

Cuddles: Research shows that petting a dog lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, and can decrease your blood pressure.1 While the magic of my dog's cuddles won't decrease my migraine pain, snuggling close does help me relax. I'm always amazed at how one (or both) of my dogs will find me hiding in my dark bedroom. My Aussie Shepherd will position herself close just enough so I can feel her against my legs. Then my cat will curl up next to my chest and purr softly. Studies show purring can lower stress and help people cope with illness, so maybe that's why all the purring combined with the cuddles helps me relax, making my pain a little easier to deal with.2

Number 2

Support: When I'm working through migraine pain, my pets check on me. If I'm trying to sleep through the pain, everyone will search me out to make sure I'm alright. I can hear the door to the bedroom creak open, and that's when I see a large back nose poking in the doorway. My Border Collie is doing his hourly rounds. And if vomiting up my breakfast shows up on my not-so-busy-migrained-out schedule, a pup will suddenly appear behind me to make sure I get back to bed.

Number 3

Love: Explaining to people that I deal with migraine disease can be, well...weird. Sometimes these new friends tell me why my migraine is just a "bad headache," and if I drank more water they'd totally be gone. (Or not) Then other times, I'm met with a heavy pity, where I end up making the other person feel better about my head pain. The thing is, my furry friends look at me like I'm just me. Migraine or no migraine, their eyes reflect the love they feel for me at all times, which helps me remember who I am - migraine or no migraine.

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