Dogs have been offering humans companionship for thousands of years. Commonly referred to as man’s best friend, dogs are lovable, loyal friends. But apart from just being a trusty sidekick, studies are starting to show that dogs may offer us even more benefits than we may be aware.
Dogs have been shown to help fight mental illness issues such as anxiety and depression and help us get to an overall better state of wellbeing.
Many relationships can be difficult to manage, and with people who suffer depression or anxiety, this can be a huge issue to deal with. This is where dogs offer unconditional love and acceptance, that cuts the drama of normal relationships and goes to the base animal-human bond. When it comes to companionship with your furry friend, there is no unnecessary drama.
Owning a dog helps you become more active
The average dog requires around 1 to 2 hours of exercise a day, so that forces you to get out to get some fresh air and meet people. When you get out and get physical activity, whether it’s running or walking, the body creates what is referred to as the “happiness hormone” or serotonin. Studies have shown that serotonin deficiency leads to depression.
Physical activities, such as walking the dog, stimulate the production of serotonin, leading to a general state of well-being and happiness. Getting more physical activity also leads to other great benefits such as lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease.
Owning a dog helps structure your life and gives you responsibility
Having someone to care for is a great motivation to get up in the morning and begin a new day. Caring for your dog will give you something to look forward to every day and help you realize how important you really are. Also, staying busy during the day keep your mind occupied and away from negative thoughts. Dog care can encourage dog owners to take care of themselves.
When you’re caring for your dog, you’re also creating a schedule whether you know it or not. For example, a dog owner who feeds his pets every day at 6:00 pm may also have the habit of cooking dinner at that time of day. Having a structured daily schedule will take some stress and anxiety out of everyday life for dog owners.
Owning a dog helps you become more sociable
When it comes to dog ownership, there are many ways to get out and socialise and meet other like-minded individuals. Dog owners are able to interact with other pet owners, for example, when they are at a veterinarian, at a pet store or when they take their dog for a walk. Meeting people and socializing is essential to keep depression away.
Even meeting people at the dog park and setting up playdates for your dogs is a great way to meet new people and start great friendships.
I know this from personal experience. I’ve lived in my current house for 10 years an owned a dog for 18 months at the time of writing. During the past 18 months, I’ve met more people and made more friends in my local area than I ever did in the whole 10 years I’ve lived here. And that’s down to walking my dog and taking him to the local park.
Dog ownership is a priceless experience. Dogs come in all shapes in sizes, from high energy to more calm breeds, so there is a dog for everyone. Below are more ways that dogs can help you with depression and your overall mental well being.
More resources if you’re suffering from depression
- Mental Health Helplines (UK)
- Clinical Depression – NHS (UK)
- Mental Health America – Depression
- Coping with Depression
- 10 Natural Depression Treatments