Dogs are known affectionately as “man’s best friend”. They are loyal, they are loving, and as a bonus, they are fluffy. They are one of the top two choices when it comes to pets, and they make for lifelong companions. Dogs, more than any other pet, have been bred and evolved to become finely attuned to their owners. This means that not only can they understand many of the words that we use, they are also able to understand our moods and behaviors. Dogs are our friends, and they are our heroes against many illnesses, including anxiety and depression.
Mental Health Benefits of Dogs
It is precisely because of how finely tuned dogs are to their owner’s emotional and physical state that makes them such good supporters. One of the reasons why dogs can be more beneficial than even other people is because they love to be pet. The need to touch is a basic human instinct. Snuggling up with a dog is a great way to open your heart and relax.
Petting a dog can lower your heart rate, make you calmer, and can lower your anxiety. They are perfectly equipped to make you lower your defenses and to support you. Owning a dog also comes with many lifestyle benefits that can further help you with your mental health.
Physical Benefits of Dogs
Dogs need exercise. If they don’t get the exercise that they need, then they get frustrated, moody, and can even become depressed themselves. Taking care of a dog properly means caring for his needs. By taking care of your dog, you will benefit from:
Increased Physical Activity
The bigger the dog, the more you will need to give him the exercise he needs. This could mean taking a small terrier for a walk in the morning for a half hour, or going on an hour long walk twice a day for larger dogs. The more exercise they get, the healthier, and happier they are. Their happy faces alone are good enough reason to get out there and exercise more. In term, this increased physical exercise will lower your blood pressure, increase your stamina, your immune system, and even help you manage your weight. Dog owners are more likely than any other group to meet their daily exercise requirements, just so that they can keep their furry companion happy.
A Lifelong Friend
Though your dog won’t be around for your whole life, you will be around for theirs. That sort of friendship is crucial for everyone, especially older people or those who have a mental illness. The friendship that dogs provide is what you need to combat loneliness and isolation.
Dog people are notoriously friendly. Rather than talk about the weather, however, they talk about their dogs. This is an easy interaction that anyone can enjoy – even those with social anxieties. You aren’t talking about yourself, after all, you’re talking about your dogs. This social interaction can help you connect, and can even help you make new friends.
They Give You Routine
A structured day is one of the best ways to stay productive and keep moving forward. Depression stops you from doing your day to day activities, but many people find it much easier to commit when another living thing is relying on them. Even children don’t rely on their parents as much as dogs do. Dogs can’t ask for help, and they can’t go and do things for themselves. They need you to feed them, to walk them, and to let them out. This responsibility helps many people push through and cope with their mental illness.
One of the best benefits of owning and taking care of a dog is having a warm, fluffy body to cuddle. Running your hands through their fur can help you calm down, can keep your stress levels low, and just generally feels great.
Dogs and Development
Dogs are also great tools to use to teach children responsibility, empathy, and social skills. That is why having a dog in the house is so important for children. Not only can children benefit from the dog’s presence for the same reason that adults and seniors can, but they can also learn a lot from them. Dogs can help children develop their social skills, especially if they struggle with making friends at school. Dogs are also a great way to help teach children about the concept of life, why and how to take care of another living thing, and to also gain great habits.
Taking Care of Your Dog as They Take Care of You
You are your dog’s whole life. They provide consistent, loyal companionship and undying love. Their health and happiness, however, depend entirely on you. That is why you need to make sure that you give your dog the exercise they need every day, feed them a healthy amount (not too much or too little) and even keep up on top of their health. It means using products from VetIQ to protect your dog from fleas and ticks, and it means making sure that their teeth remain healthy and strong.
Dogs are very simple to take care of. The benefits they provide to us humans, however, is incredibly complex. The joys of owning a dog are compounded by the lifestyle benefits. The daily physical exercise can help us lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, while also improving our immune system, flexibility, strength, and stamina. Dogs are happy, joyful creatures whose happiness is infectious to all those around them. They need to be taken care of, yes, but that responsibility helps many people combat their mental illness and to get out of the house.
If you are struggling with your mental health, self-esteem, or social anxiety, then consider getting a dog. You need to accept all the responsibility and time that goes with it, however, otherwise you won’t get the benefits from owning the dog, and the dog itself will be very unhealthy and depressed himself. With care, love, and attention, however, they’ll be the perfect little drop of sunlight in your life.
An excellent article, except I think you misspelled “cat”. 😂 All kidding aside, this is so very true. Pets are amazing helpers in the mental health fight. I lost my first cat in May and was having a really rough time depression wise after that. When I finally adopted Nutmeg in March, I couldn’t believe how much of a difference she made. She healed my heart of my previous loss and gave me something that needed me. I don’t always care what my surroundings look like, but I kept her litter box immaculate. The routines of taking care of her were exactly what I needed.
Sadly, Nutmeg passed away unexpectedly last weekend. We had only had her for two months and eighteen days, but I’ll never forget how much love she gave. And I look forward to passing that love along to a new furry friend after I’m done grieving. Despite all the crying I’ve done this past week, I wouldn’t change a thing. There are no words for the way pets take care of us. And sure, a dog would make me go outside, but in my opinion you just can’t beat a cuddly cat to snuggle.