For many of us, dogs are more than just pets — they are loyal companions, trusted confidants and sources of unconditional love and support. ❤️
And while we may think of our furkids as simply cute and cuddly, an American Heart Association editorial has shown that owning a dog can actually have significant benefits for our mental health!
(Photo via Shutterstock)
Improving mood and overall well-being
One of the most well-known benefits of dog ownership is the way in which dogs can help reduce stress and anxiety. Spending time with our dogs can increase the levels of oxytocin in our bodies, a hormone that has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. This is particularly true when we engage in activities like petting or hugging our dogs, which have been shown to release even higher levels of oxytocin.
According to Dr. Julie Albright, a digital sociologist, “Having a dog can help you feel more secure and grounded and can provide a sense of routine and responsibility, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.”
In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, owning a dog has also been linked to improved mood and overall well-being. 🤓 According to a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, dog owners were found to have higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction than non-dog owners. The study also found that dog owners had lower levels of depression and reported fewer feelings of loneliness.
Keeping yourself mentally and physically stimulated!
Another benefit of dog ownership is the way in which dogs can help us stay active and engaged with the world around us. Dogs require regular exercise, which means that their owners are more likely to get out and engage in physical activity as well. This can be particularly important for people who may be struggling with depression or other mental health issues, as physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on mood and overall mental health.
According to Dr. Albright, “Walking your dog can be a great way to get outside and connect with nature, which has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind and body. And taking your dog to a park or other public place can provide an opportunity to socialise and connect with other dog owners, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.”
Establishing a sense of purpose
Caring for a dog brings routine and responsibility into individuals’ lives, offering a sense of purpose and structure. Establishing a daily care routine, including feeding, exercise and grooming, provides a predictable and meaningful schedule, particularly beneficial for those with mental health conditions. Engaging in these responsibilities promotes a sense of direction and stability.
A study published in the Journal of Mental Health reported that individuals who owned dogs were more likely to adhere to a regular daily schedule, which can provide a sense of stability and purpose in life. Having a set routine for activities not only benefits the dog’s well-being 🐶 but also helps individuals develop a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
(Photo via USA TODAY)
At the end of the day…
Owning a dog can have numerous benefits for our mental health, from reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood and overall well-being to helping us establish a sense of purpose in life. As Dr. Albright puts it, “Dogs can provide a sense of comfort, companionship and unconditional love that is hard to find anywhere else. They truly are man’s best friend.”
Of course, it is important to note that owning a dog is not a cure-all for mental health issues. Dogs can be a wonderful source of support and companionship, but they are not a substitute for professional help when it comes to issues like depression and anxiety.
It is always important to seek help from a mental health professional if you are struggling with these issues.❗️
So, if you are considering adding a doggo to your family, you should know that you may be doing more than just getting a pet — you may be improving your mental health as well! 😋 (Pssst… you are also most welcome to reach out to us to adopt your forever doggo! 💕)
As we observe Mental Health Awareness Week (which is this week! 💫), let us recognize and appreciate the remarkable impact dogs have on our mental well-being. Their unconditional love, emotional support and ability to encourage physical activity and routine make them invaluable partners in our journey towards better mental health. 🌈🐶❤️
You should also watch our Spotlight video for Mental Health Awareness Week to see how saving homeless dogs changed Asther and Halen's lives!