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Dogs: Guardians of Mental Health

Dogs and Mental Health - Happy Breath

Dogs and Mental Health | Have you ever thought about why petting a dog or cat invokes feelings of pure happiness? Whether you spot them at a park or a bus stop, there is something about dogs that make us want to stop, give them scratches, and maybe even play with them.

Even though dog owners would agree taking care of a pet dog may be difficult, it is still one of the most rewarding experiences. No matter how tired, angry or disgruntled you are, your dog curling up beside you at the end of the day takes all your worries away.

If you feel that way, then it is correct. Even science backs up the connection between dogs and people’s mental well-being.

You don’t need science to validate your love for your furry friend. However, it is always good to know why having a pet dog is one of the best decisions you can make for your mental health. So, if you want to convince a friend or a family member to get a dog, show them this list.

How Do Dogs Support Mental Health?

1. Mood regulator

Several studies show that spending time with a pet dog helps regulate mood. For example, one study suggested that university students experience reduced anxiety and improved mood when interacting with house-trained dogs.

Our mood and emotional well-being are controlled by the hormones our bodies release. Interacting with a dog may spike in many feel-good hormones such as oxytocin, endorphins, and even serotonin. Moreover, dogs can help with relieving stress and anxiety by reducing glucocorticoid, which is a stress hormone.

2. Provide entertainment

If you want entertainment, and that too for free, then your pet dog can do precisely this. Whether it is your furry friend’s nonsensical activities or their curiosity, there is no doubt you will have a minute of boredom on your hands. Not only this, but they can provide you with a much-needed distraction from all your daily worries, ensuring healthy mental health and subsequently emotional well-being.

3. Get you on your toes

An effective way to regulate our mental health is by working out. An hour’s play of catch with your dog or just a mild run in the park with your furry friend can be a great way to exercise. Not only do you have your dog to keep you company, but it is proven that a good sweat session can elevate mood. In addition, it can help reduce the risk of high cholesterol and heart attack while building immunity. Moreover, your dog may even force you to spend time in nature, which is another excellent way to feel refreshed.

4. Increase socialization

Studies show that a pet dog helps in forging connections. This is because when you take your pet dog to a vet, a park, or you stand in the aisle looking for its favorite food, you are bound to make conversation with other dog owners. This is an effective and subtle way for someone to make connections and friendships, which may be otherwise difficult for someone struggling with their mental health.

5. Ensure responsibility

One way to ensure that our mental health is fit is when we effectively take responsibility for others. It shows mental strength and proactiveness. Hence, getting a pet dog is a good decision if you want someone to push you on your bad days. This is because pet dogs require attention and care along with training. These things take time, and therefore they are a big responsibility for pet owners.

6. Loyal companionship

Anyone who struggled with their mental health needs support and companionship. Often, our families and friends can only do so much because they are busy with their lives. In such a scenario, a pet dog can prove to be a wonderful companion. They can ward off loneliness and ensure we have someone to depend on, especially on a bad day.

7. Give a sense of purpose

One issue people with declining mental health go through is having no sense of purpose. Usually, this means there is nothing for them to look forward to or get excited about. One of the ways a pet dog can help is by providing its owners with purpose and direction. Giving it food, taking it out on a walk, or getting their vet appointment are some things that push dog owners to take the initiative. Not only this but keeping a pet dog at home may also excite dog owners to look forward to something after a hectic day.

8. Dogs as therapists

Therapy dogs are increasingly gaining popularity as one form of mental health therapy. They can provide comfort and support to people who are not doing well mentally. Depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some mental health problems that therapy dogs are trained to tackle. You can usually find therapy dogs in hospitals, hospices, and even retirement homes. Using touch, play and even sound, therapy dogs can help one’s mental and emotional well-being.

9. Push you to build a routine

Following a routine is a rewarding way to ensure good mental health. Usually, it indicates consistency and the ability to get things done on time. However, if someone is in a dark place mentally, they may be unable to keep up with tasks. Having a pet dog may push a person to build a routine that may involve taking time out for your dog. Getting its food, taking it for a walk or vaccination, and even a dog groomer may positively impact routine building.

While all these reasons are compelling enough to have a pet dog, it is always good to seek professional help if you’re dealing with mental health issues.

Bottom Line

These are just some of the ways dogs support us when we are feeling sad and depressed. There are many more ways they can help without us knowing. While it is true they demand care and may even tire you out, it is worth all the love, loyalty, and attention you will receive from your dog.