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Woman and her pooch on a sofa

Ways Your Dog Can Positively Impact Your Mental Well-being

Are you still thinking about getting a dog? Will it help if we tell you that having a canine companion can improve your mental health? You read that right. Aside from the sweet, slobby kisses, and warm hugs dogs offer comfort and companionship like no other. 

It's no wonder, why so many hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities use therapy dogs to help patients cope with stress, loneliness or grief following an illness or death in the family. They give us a sense of purpose, responsibility and lasting friendship.

Keep reading to know why getting a dog will be one of the best things you'll do.


Dogs reduce anxiety

Not only will you have the comfort of someone there for you (who won't feel bad if you're not totally up to your normal self), but research has shown that interactions with dogs help decrease anxiety. 

 

man's best friend

Having a dog can offer a sense of security and calm, whether from their presence, physical touch or companionship. In addition, dogs are loyal and non-judgemental, contributing to dogs being the perfect companion during anxious times.

Having and caring for an animal can provide a wonderful distraction from everyday stressors and potentially help people connect with others in social situations.


Dogs help with depression


They can provide company and comfort when it's hard to reach out to others. Engaging in conversation with someone else may seem like the last thing you want to do if you're feeling down. Dogs are great company because they listen and don't require you to speak.

Depression can cause sufferers to stop caring about their hygiene or eating regularly, but having a dog means a daily routine that includes feeding them and walking them. This provides consistency from weekdays to weekends and ensures that the essential things will still get done even if the depression is bad some days.

The distraction of having a pet can be helpful because it offers another focus besides one's thoughts which can often become negative or obsessive. Dogs are good companions simply because they enjoy physical contacts, such as hugs and nuzzles (as opposed to people who might shy away from being touched).


Dogs provide unconditional love

One of the biggest benefits of dogs is that they love you unconditionally. They don't care how much money you make, what kind of house you live in, or your career aspirations. They don't watch if you're having a bad hair day, if your clothes aren't cute enough, or if your skin is breaking out. Dogs won't judge you for getting drunk at a party and throwing up on yourself. When dogs see us at our worst, they still find us worthy of love and affection.

 

Dog and old woman smiling at the camera


Their acceptance goes even deeper than physical appearance; dogs have an innate ability to sense when we're feeling down or upset. So you never have to worry about your dog being "in a mood" and refusing to interact with you because he has other things on his mind—no matter how grumpy we may be, our pups will always be happy to see us!


Just petting a dog leads to positive feelings

Of course, spending time with a dog is a great way to feel less anxious about whatever you're worried about. But even if you're not having a particularly stressful day, spending some time with your furry friend can lower blood pressure and make you feel happier. Why? For one thing, their fur is naturally therapeutic. Stroking or rubbing a dog stimulates the release of oxytocin in humans and dogs alike—the so-called "cuddle hormone" that promotes happiness and trust in both species. And when we pet our dogs, they also produce endorphins—kryptonite to stress hormones.

And if all else fails and your dog won't stop barking at the mailman or chewing on your shoes, you can still find comfort in them. Studies have shown that simply being around an animal can help boost moods, reduce anxiety and pressure, just as touching one does. So cuddle up with Fido for five minutes tonight (and every other night) and feel his warm body against yours—even if he won't stay still long enough for you to take more than three deep breaths before leaping off the couch again to chase after another squirrel he spied through the window.


The Takeaway

When it comes to our mental health, dogs can be actual saviours. Like children, dogs provide a healthy distraction from the hardships of daily living and offer unconditional love, providing calming energy that helps ease depression and anxiety.

 

Woman and labrador lying on the floor eating snacks


Regardless of the circumstances, having a dog is a wonderful experience. But be sure you have the time and commitment to providing an animal with all that it needs. This means being a responsible pet owner, whether you're an apartment-dweller, condo-owner or you're suffering from depression.

Have we got you convinced and wondering what type of dog you should get? You should check out a local rescue shelters or pet adoption centres. There are hundreds of dogs there waiting to be taken home and chances are you will find the perfect companion for you!

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