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The Positive Impact of Dogs on Human Mental Health

One of the best known ways dogs improve our mental health is by helping to reduce stress. Various studies have shown that spending time with a dog can reduce
Team Jagger.Lewis
Date of publication
May 26, 2023

For thousands of years, dogs have been the faithful companions of man. Known for their unwavering loyalty, unconditional love, and ability to bring joy and comfort, dogs play an important role in many people's lives. However, what many may not know is that these four-legged friends also have a significant and beneficial impact on our mental health...
Decreased stress

One of the best known ways dogs improve our mental health is by helping to reduce stress. Various studies have shown that spending time with a dog can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase levels of oxytocin, a hormone that causes feelings of relaxation and happiness. A simple caress to a dog can trigger this beneficial response. In addition, simply watching a dog play or sleep can provide a sense of calm and serenity, helping to reduce overall stress.

Dogs and depression

Dogs can also play a significant role in fighting depression. They provide consistent and unconditional emotional support, which can be especially helpful for people who feel isolated or misunderstood. Additionally, caring for a dog provides a sense of purpose and responsibility that can help combat the feelings of worthlessness that are often associated with depression. By providing a daily routine and a reason to get out of bed each morning, sharing a dog's life can help make sense of their life.

Exercise and mental health

Owning a dog can also encourage physical exercise, which has significant mental health benefits. Regular dog walks can help maintain an active lifestyle, which is known to improve mood and reduce anxiety and depression. Physical activity releases endorphins, the “hormones of happiness,” which help relieve stress and promote a sense of well-being. Additionally, time spent outside on walks can help increase exposure to natural light, which is beneficial for regulating the sleep cycle and improving mood.

Socialization and dogs

Dogs can also be great facilitators of socialization. Whether it's during walks in the park, at training clubs, or simply during casual encounters with other dog owners, there are plenty of opportunities to build social connections. These social interactions can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are often associated with depression and anxiety. Also, having a dog can provide an easy topic for conversation, making social interactions easier for people who otherwise feel uncomfortable or anxious in social situations.

Dogs and self-esteem

Owning a dog can also improve self-esteem. Taking care of a dog and seeing that it is happy and healthy can provide a sense of accomplishment and pride. Dogs also provide unconditional love and acceptance, which can boost self-esteem and self-confidence.

Dogs and therapy

Dogs are also used in animal-assisted therapies to help treat a variety of mental health conditions. Psychiatric service dogs, for example, are specifically trained to help people with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe depression, and anxiety. These dogs can be trained to perform specific tasks, such as bringing medication to their owner or comforting them during a panic attack.

In addition, animal-assisted therapy with dogs is also used in hospitals, care homes, and schools to provide comfort and reduce stress and anxiety.

Dogs have an immeasurable positive impact on our mental health. They offer emotional support, encourage physical exercise, facilitate socialization, improve self-esteem, and can even be used in animal-assisted therapies to treat a variety of mental health conditions.

However, it is important to note that while dogs can play an important role in supporting mental health, they are no substitute for professional treatment for serious mental health conditions. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders, it is crucial to see a mental health professional.

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