Puppy Love: How Dogs Improve Mental Health
March 23 is National Puppy Day. Dogs improve our physical health in many ways. But, did you know they can also improve our mental health? Owning a dog can prevent feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. They are also great stress relievers! According to a recent poll, 95% of dog owners say their dogs improve their mental health. The people who participated in this poll were from all age groups (adolescents, young adults, adults, and seniors). How exactly do dogs improve our mental health? In honor of National Puppy Day, let’s dive in!
They reduce stress
It is no secret that a pair of puppy dog eyes can help ward off stress. Recently, a study was conducted on a group of “dogless” Wall Street stockbrokers. These stockbrokers were overworked and understandably stressed out. They suffered from hypertension and other stress-related conditions. They were told to adopt dogs from nearby shelters. Within the first few weeks of dog ownership, these stockbrokers noticed dramatic improvements in their health as well as lowered stress. Their blood pressure improved, and they just felt good all around! They attributed their lowered stress levels to their new dogs!
Our dogs help us feel needed
Dogs are similar to kids in many ways. They depend on us for everything such as: food, water, and shelter. Whether in puppyhood or adulthood, dogs don’t really lose their infantile nature. They are our babies! This, in fact, has a significant impact on depression. When someone is clinically depressed, owning a puppy or adult dog can help them feel needed and wanted. Dogs give us a sense of purpose. Depression can make it nearly impossible to get out of bed when the alarm clock goes off. However, if you own a puppy or dog, they will most likely be waiting for you to get up and take them on that morning stroll!
Dogs prevent feelings of loneliness
No matter what stage of life they are in (puppyhood or adulthood) our dogs always want to be by our side. This is really good, especially if you live alone. Your dog doesn’t care what activity you’re up to. He doesn’t care if you’re preparing for an invigorating hike, a car ride, or just a “Netflix-and-chill” session on the couch—as long as you do it together.
Dogs help us build social connections
Let’s face it, strangers are easier to approach if they have a cute, slobbery pup by their side. For example, when I’m out with my chihuahua, people I don’t know often come up to me to pet her, ask her how old she is, etc. We then go on to talk about other things too. Dogs are great ice breakers!
Dogs increase our self-esteem
Dogs help us feel good about ourselves. They alleviate anxiety and help us feel more relaxed. They help us create healthy relationships. Having a dog in your life can help you feel less isolated and more socially connected. They are actually like therapists!
Dogs give us unconditional love
Like other cherished pets (cats for example) our dogs will always love us, no matter what! At the end of a stressful day Lily, my chihuahua, doesn’t care if I flunked a test. She doesn’t judge my athletic ability. She doesn’t judge anything. When I come home to her, she’s simply there to love me. She’s always happy to see me, and wants to be with me at all times. The act of giving and receiving unconditional love is known to stimulate a chemical called dopamine, in the brain. Dopamine is known as the “feel good chemical”. It helps fight depression and will boost your mood.
I’ve had dogs all my life. Most of them I have had since puppyhood. Dogs are equivalent to oxygen for me. If you are thinking of adopting a dog or puppy, please choose wisely. Be sure that you (and your family) are ready for a lifetime commitment. Dogs have been our babies, our healers, and our friends for literally thousands of years. They are the ultimate best friends.
If you already have a dog and you want him or her to become your Emotional Support Animal, ask your therapist for more information. The professionals at Core3 understand the bond between humans and their pets and are more than happy to help in this matter.
Call us today, (888) 203-0113. Happy National Puppy Day!