It’s fair to say that a large population of the world is enduring something of a mental health crisis. Historically, doctors and psychiatrists have driven people toward medicines and therapy as a way of overcoming the likes of depression and anxiety. However, they don’t work for everyone. Instead, other factors can help. In this guide, we look at how owning a dog can boost your mental health.

We examine the science behind how adopting a dog can reduce loneliness, encourage more physical activity, and how they can reduce anxiety and stress.

In true doggy fashion, let’s jump in.

How Can Owning A Dog Boost Your Mental Health?

The exploration of human-animal interactions remains relatively fresh in the realm of research. While certain studies have unveiled encouraging health benefits, the outcomes have proven to be a medley of findings.

Engaging with animals has demonstrated the ability to diminish cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, and can potentially alleviate blood pressure. Additionally, alternative studies have revealed that animals can alleviate feelings of loneliness, foster a greater sense of social support, and elevate overall mood.

Let’s look at some specific ways dogs can help boost your mental health.

The Natural Antidepressant: Your Dog

Reduces Loneliness

According to the findings from the London School of Economics, the toll of loneliness on the economy is estimated at £6,000 per decade of an older individual’s life. Additionally, The Big Lunch, an initiative by the Eden Project, conducted research revealing that disconnected communities impose a staggering £32 billion burden on the economy annually.

So, can our four-legged friends, dogs, truly alleviate loneliness? While dogs undeniably offer unique companionship, engaging in meaningful conversations with them is rather limited. However, this can actually be viewed as a positive attribute by some individuals.

Surprisingly, research has discovered that there is no discernible difference in feelings of loneliness between individuals living alone with pets and those without pets. What truly matters is the impact of dog ownership itself, as it can lead to enhanced human companionship.

The act of walking a dog in a nearby park inevitably initiates conversations with fellow dog owners, creating opportunities for social interaction. Joining breed clubs provides a platform for dog owners to connect with others who share a passion for the same breed. Exploring activity clubs further expands the social sphere and often involves engaging in physical exercise.

Attending dog shows serves as an excellent avenue for meeting other enthusiastic dog owners. To embark on this journey of connection, the Kennel Club is an excellent resource to discover local breed and activity clubs.

Encourages Physical Activity

A comprehensive recent study by the University of Liverpool examining the relationship between dogs and exercise reveals that dog owners are approximately four times more likely to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines compared to individuals without canine companionship.

This large-scale investigation, encompassing numerous households in Britain, highlights the profound influence that owning a dog can have on exercise habits.

Those of us who share our lives with dogs, myself included, are intimately acquainted with the delight of strolling along paths, trails, and sidewalks in their company. Nevertheless, we are also familiar with their mournful expressions of disappointment when our demanding work deadlines or other circumstances disrupt our regular walks.

As a direct result of these delightful walks, the majority of dog owners not only met but surpassed the recommended exercise guidelines aimed at promoting good health, advocating for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.

Surprisingly, dog owners also allocated slightly more time than non-dog owners to individual activities like jogging, cycling, and solo gym sessions, independent of their loyal canine companions. This suggests that the inclusion of dog walks in their routines did not displace or diminish engagement in other physical activities.

So, in short, when you practice good dog care, you also end up taking better care of yourself.

Offers Support And Reduces Anxiety

Scientific studies have compellingly demonstrated that the act of petting a dog holds the power to diminish the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, fostering a sense of tranquillity and well-being.

As well as this, the bond between individuals and their canine companions triggers a notable surge in oxytocin, often referred to as the “feel-good hormone,” known for its role in nurturing the attachment between mothers and infants.

In an astounding revelation, a recent survey disclosed that a staggering 84 percent of individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder experienced remarkable alleviation of symptoms when paired with a service dog.

This transformative partnership not only yielded a significant reduction in distress but also facilitated a remarkable 40 percent decrease in reliance on medications among respondents.

This will close in 0 seconds