How Dogs Benefit Our Mental Health
Introduction: Dogs have been man's best friend for thousands of years, and for a good reason. Not only are they loving and loyal companions, but they also have positive effects on our mental health. In this blog post, we will explore how having a dog can benefit our mental health and well-being.
Dogs Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety: Dogs have a calming effect on their owners, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Petting and cuddling with your dog releases oxytocin, a hormone that can help to lower cortisol, a stress hormone. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, pet owners were found to have lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress than those without pets (*).
Dogs Can Help with Depression: Dogs provide their owners with unconditional love and support, which can help to alleviate feelings of loneliness and sadness. In fact, studies have shown that dog owners are less likely to experience depression than those who don't own dogs. A study conducted by the University of Missouri found that petting a dog for just 15 minutes can increase levels of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, all of which can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Dogs Can Increase Physical Activity: Owning a dog can increase your physical activity levels, which can have a positive impact on your mental health. Going for walks or playing with your dog can help to reduce stress and increase endorphin levels.
Dogs Can Provide a Sense of Purpose: Taking care of a dog requires responsibility and dedication, which can give owners a sense of purpose and meaning. This can be particularly beneficial for those who are struggling with mental health issues.
Conclusion: Dogs are much more than just pets; they are companions that can have a significant impact on our mental health and well-being. Whether you are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or simply want a sense of purpose, having a dog can be an excellent way to improve your overall quality of life. References:
Brooks, H. L., Rushton, K., Lovell, K., Bee, P., Walker, L., Grant, L., & Rogers, A. (2018). The power of support from companion animals for people living with mental health problems: A systematic review and narrative synthesis of the evidence. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing, 25(5), 317-333.
Odendaal, J. S., & Meintjes, R. A. (2003). Neurophysiological correlates of affiliative behavior between humans and dogs. Veterinary journal (London, England: 1997), 165(3), 296–301. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1090-0233(02)00237-6