Dogs Are Great For Your Mental Health — Here’s Why

  • 10/02/2021
your-dog-and-your-health.jpgThere’s a reason why everyone loves to watch dog videos when feeling sad — they make people happy. These naturally curious creatures can make people smile even on the darkest days. While watching these videos can give you a boost of positive energy, owning a dog can have more significant impacts on your mental health.

Here are six reasons why a furry friend can change your life.

1. You Need to Get Out of Bed

Being a pet owner forces you to care for someone besides yourself. You need to get out of bed each day to give them food and water. Plus, they require frequent bathroom breaks and walks outside. These daily tasks keep your mind and body busy and give you a sense of purpose.

Pets can also teach your children responsibility. While they may still resist doing household chores in the morning, they’ll be much more eager to take Fido for a walk. When kids have pets, they learn what it’s like to have someone relying on them to survive. In many ways, it’s similar to having a younger sibling without the constant bickering.

2. You Receive Attention and Affection

Everyone enjoys receiving attention, genuine affection and unconditional love. Yet, these experiences have an even greater impact on people who are lonely. You may receive more attention and tenderness from your dog than you do your own family throughout the day. For many, this can fill a void they didn’t know existed.

Most canines love to cuddle and show their owners love and affection. When spending time with your pup, your body naturally releases a hormone called oxytocin (OT). Oxytocin is known as the love hormone because it occurs during periods of closeness and strengthens relationship bonds. This can naturally improve a person’s self-perception and increase empathy.

3. You Are Less Depressed and Anxious

Dogs offer companionship and can help you manage your depression and anxiety. The oxytocin your body releases when you spend time with your pet has various impacts on your mental and physical health. More specifically, it has anti-stress effects and decreases symptoms of depression. OT also has the potential to act as an anti-inflammatory and increase pain thresholds.

It’s difficult to quantify the precise effects that dogs have on their owners, but most people agree that they bring light and joy to their lives. In fact, 90% of pet owners think of their animals as valued family members. Besides providing a sense of friendship and camaraderie, dogs also encourage you to meet new people. A quick walk in the park and lead owners to interact with others — leading to an increase in social interaction and a boost in confidence.

4. You Have Someone Who Will Listen

Do you ever wish you had someone who would listen to you without passing judgment? Pets are great listeners and they continue to show you love and affection long after you tell them your secrets. Even if your dog doesn’t understand what you are saying, it will feel nice to speak your mind.

Kids can also talk with their dogs, which encourages cognitive development. As your children practice conversation with their pets they’ll become more comfortable talking with other children and adults.

5. You Exercise More Often

Owning a dog encourages you to exercise more often. You have to go outside to take it for bathroom breaks, which leads you to be more active. Even something as simple as cleaning up after your dog forces you to get up from the couch and move around. For many people, movement is the spark they need to jump-start their day with a positive attitude.

Physical activity is good for yourself and your family. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, while kids and teens need at least 60 minutes each day. Dogs can help you reach these goals because they love to run and play. Chasing your pup around will feel more like playtime instead of a boring workout.

6. You Build a Special Bond

With time, dogs bond with their owners and build a special connection. For many people, this may be the first real emotional connection they’ve ever felt besides family. As you grow closer with your pet, you feel needed and loved. These feelings of attachment are even more crucial for young children who are still developing.

It’s common for families to get dogs that can grow up with the children — giving young ones a special source of companionship. When these pets eventually pass away, it provides parents with an opportunity to teach their kids about death and loss in a healthy way. Learning these lessons from a young age can positively affect how they handle challenging situations in the future.

Wagging Tails Bring Joy to Your Life

When you see your pup wagging its tail with excitement, it’s easy to understand why animals bring light to the world. You’ll feel a surge of joy and positivity each time your dog greets you at the door, and those feelings are great for your mental health. So the next time you’re considering adding a furry friend to the family, review these six benefits and say yes.

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