Are Dogs Good for Mental Health?
It’s no secret that there are several ways that your dog can show you unconditional love. However, is having a dog at home as beneficial for your mind as it is your heart?
Dogs and people have developed bonds spanning hundreds of years, and that deep connection comes with several benefits. To start, you get to spend time with an absolutely adorable dog. There is also evidence that suggest interactions between humans and their canine counterparts can help in ways that go beyond dog kisses and cuddles.
The Connection Between Dogs and Mental Health
As many pet parents know, it’s hard to see your furry friend and not smile. But what are the real facts about dogs and mental health? As it turns out, there is plenty of research to suggest dogs and mental health benefits are connected.
- Psychologists from Purdue University and the University of Pennsylvania found petting a friendly dog can lower blood pressure, slow your heart rate, relax your muscles, and reduce stress.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found there was an association between kids who had a pet dog at home and a decreased probability of childhood anxiety.
- A clinical study found that people in the emergency room experienced less pain after spending time with a therapy dog.
- An analysis of multiple academic papers found evidence owning a pet is a major benefit for people living with mental health condition or illnesses.
- The American Psychological Association reported that veterans with PTSD enjoyed better mental health and well-being if they had a service dog.
Pretty compelling arguments, but why do dogs have this impact on so many people? According to research, it’s because our brains associate friendly animals with good feelings. Simple actions like petting a dog or watching a furry friend play causes our brain to release dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which are all chemicals that improve our mood and make us feel better. Talk about an impressive party trick.
Five Ways Dogs Help with Mental Health
While science can tell us why dogs are good for mental health, there are plenty of practical examples of how our canine companions support us.
Knowing you have a furry friend waiting at home to see you helps make any day better. A dog is a life-long companion who will be there with you during good times and bad times. Whether you’re feeling lonely, had a rough day at work, or simply need some affection, your dog will be around to lend a helping paw.
Having a dog can help you interact with more than just your best friend. There are plenty of situations that can lead to more face-to-face interactions with people. These extra social interactions, such as chatting with someone while you walk your dog or heading to the dog park with other pet parents, can help people feel less lonely and provide a boost to their mental health.
Speaking of walks, those extra trips outside are a great way for you and your pooch to stay active. Physical activity is linked to your mental health, so those extra walks, playtime, and other forms of exercise are an extra advantage of having a dog.
A good daily routine can help reduce anxiety, and having a dog at home can really add structure to your day. Regularly scheduled mealtimes, walks, and other routines can help you feel more grounded and focused. These extra responsibilities can also give you a sense of purpose and achievement whenever you see your furry friend so happy after every routine.
Therapy and recovery
Pet parents aren’t the only people who directly benefit from dogs. There are plenty of important jobs that dogs perform on a daily basis. Guide dogs, therapy dogs, and service dogs all assist people in need and have a direct impact on the overall mental health of the people they serve.
Enjoy a Happy, Healthy Life with Your Dog
While the saying suggests that an apple a day can keep the doctor away, it turns out that dogs aren’t too shabby when it comes to supporting your wellbeing. Our furry friends are there for us and love us every single day, so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that dogs have a positive impact on our mental health.
Of course, that loving relationship also means that it’s important for us to do what we can to ensure our best friends live happy, healthy lives. Join our Best Friends Club today to receive exclusive email updates, informative articles, and members-only discounts on Bil-Jac dog food, treats, and other products.