How do our pets improve our mental health? What is it that lowers anxiety? Learn why pets help PSTD, depression and mental health here!
Today we have a guest post from Andy. Andy is the owner of Pet Gear Lab, a pet blog that provides information, humour, help and advice to pet owners. Enjoy!
There is an immediate joy that comes with owning a furry friend, especially dogs. Our canine buddies are great companions – that’s why they hold the title of man’s best friend. Yet, few pet owners are familiar with the health benefits that comes along with snuggling or playing with a dog.
Today’s research shows that owning a dog can greatly improve your mental health. In fact, people suffering from stress, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD tend to recover quickly with the help of a dog.
But why? Well, here are seven scientifically proven reasons on how dogs help with our mental health.
Lessen loneliness through companionship
Most domesticated animals are great companions. Even so, dogs have an unmatched effect on humans. With their wagging tail and drooling tongue, dogs will seek out your attention. They will do their best to deprive you of moments of isolation and loneliness. Commonly associated with depressed people.
These intuitive creatures are more attuned to humans and our behaviours and emotions. They are not only able to understand most of our words, but can even interpret our tone of voice and body gestures. Just like any true human friend, a loyal dog will gaze into your eyes to try to understand what you’re thinking or feeling.
With such assurance, the feeling of not being wanted or cared for goes away thanks to the love gained from your furry, playful friend.
Dogs increase your social interaction
Social interaction is essential for your mental health. Remember, no man is an island, and that’s why we need to stay connected. But for many introverts, starting a conversation especially with a stranger is super scary. But, with the help of a canine friend it doesn’t have to be a daunting experience.
Dogs are social magnets – they help owners connect and maintain friendships with different individuals. In most cases, fellow dog owners while hiking or out on the run will often stop to exchange notes on their experiences as dog owners. The unifying factor makes it easy for dog owners to approach each other and start a conversation.
In the process, you increase your social network and improve your mental health.
Dogs help in getting you into shape physical shape that is good for mental health.
Dogs are naturally engaging animals. Apart from the usual grooming, they need some outdoor activities that stimulate the both of you. Tossing a Frisbee means you get to enjoy nature and exercise all at once.
In fact, there is a certain energy boost that comes out naturally elevating your mood and helping you blow off some steam. In the process, you build yourself esteem, something that is good for your mental health.
Furthermore, while interacting with your dog, you get gasp fresh air and get a dose of Vitamin D. The Vitamin D obtained helps fight mental conditions such as depression.
Reduce stress/anxiety through touch and live by the moment attitude
Touch is a healthy way to manage stress. The rhythmic petting or grooming is not only comforting to your dog but to you as well. Concentrating on the texture of their soft fur, the warmth they radiate, and they deep breath frees your mind from thoughts that plague you.
Connecting with your dog, oxytocin, is released. This antidepressant hormone helps to lower cortisol levels and reduce blood pressure.
Furthermore, our canine friends live in the moment—they don’t have to worry about yesterday’s or tomorrow’s problems. The companionship dogs offer helps ease anxiety, provide comfort and build self-confidence for people afraid of going out into the world. They help you become more mindful and appreciative of today’s joy. In that moment, it is just you and your dog having a great time.
Dogs provide a sense of purpose by giving you a sense of responsibility.
Owning a dog comes with lots of responsibilities. Dogs require a structured feeding and exercising schedule. By having one, you get to have some meaning to life since you have to care for someone other than yourself. A consistent routine will not only keep the dog balanced and calm but works for you, too.
No matter your mood—anxious, depressed, or stressed—one plaintive look from your pet will make you get out of bed to exercise, feed, or care for your pet. By doing such good deeds, your dog will positively respond giving you instant gratification.
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Dogs are great listeners
When stressed or depressed, the best avenue to release the tension is through talking to someone. However, with people, there is no such thing as complete discretion. That’s why most of us tend to lock our feelings deep inside.
However, for pet owners, especially those that own a dog, have the privilege of sharing their thoughts and wishes to a caring partner with the assurance of non-disclosure. Even though not human, dogs tend to understand your emotions and moods. Based on your tone, they can judge if you are in a foul mood or are ecstatic.
For this reason, dogs make the perfect listeners.
Dogs love unconditionally
As far as we know dogs are without critique, opinions, and verdicts. They love you no matter your condition. Seeing your dog’s enthusiasm when you walk in the door can be an instant mood-lifting boost especially after a hard day at work or school.
Their playful nature will act as a stress soother since they will have you up on your feet running around and eventually making you forget your worries.
Some much can be said about the benefits of owning a dog. Our canine friends offer a lot other than companionship. They can boost your mental health and improve your physical well-being.
But before settling for a dog companion, it is best to consider if you are in for the long haul. Dogs are usually a big commitment and don’t need to be set aside once when you find the love and affection you want.