Are dogs good for mental health?

The unconditional love of a dog, or any pet, can play a huge role in reducing stress, depression and anxiety, whilst easing loneliness and ultimately improving your general health and wellbeing.

Loyal, caring, and fun to be around, dogs are truly special in every way, and they can make the perfect pet if you’re looking for a companion. The therapeutic value of dogs is increasingly being recognised by researchers.

Here are some of the reasons why a dog, or any pet, is good for your mental health.

Dogs can help reduce depression and loneliness

Pets are a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation, especially amongst those who struggle with depression and find it difficult to find a reason to get up in the morning.

As a constant companion by your side come rain or shine, dogs can play a huge role in helping us improve our mental wellbeing, often without us even realising it.

Dogs can help with anxiety

Evidence suggests that spending time with your dog or pet can reduce stress-related hormones, even after just 5 minutes of interaction. Petting or playing with your pet raises levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body, causing the nervous system to relax.

This is also why so many dogs are used as therapy dogs in a bid to help those suffering from anxiety and depression.

Dogs support wellbeing

74% of pet owners state that their pet has played a huge role in improving their mental health and that their lives are far more fulfilled as a result. Many dog owners said that they were able to cope better with life’s many challenges and ups and downs thanks to having their pet by their side.

Dogs help you stay active

When you have a dog, you have a responsibility to keep it happy and healthy, and that means walking it every day. As well as being essential for your dog’s happiness, this walk will also help keep you active and give you the motivation you need to go outside every day. Even a 30 minute walk a day can do wonders for your mental health and wellbeing, while playing with your dog can improve your heart rate and help you to burn calories.

Dogs can help lower stress levels

Life can be challenging sometimes. From financial worries to health and wellbeing concerns, many of us have experienced higher stress levels than usual over the past few years. Owning a pet is one of the best ways to relax and de-stress – interacting with our pets stimulates the release of oxytocin, leading to a sense of calm, comfort, and focus.

They help us in later life

Finally, pets make great companions in later life and can play a role in helping patients suffering from dementia. Helping to improve mood and psychosocial functioning, a dog really can improve a dementia patient’s quality of life.

Remember, taking on a dog is a huge responsibility and is a decision that you should not take lightly. However, if you do decide to buy a dog, it really can be life-changing, especially when it comes to improving your mental health!

To find out more about how you can help support people’s mental health by becoming a counsellor or hypnotherapist, explore our range of counselling courses and hypnotherapy courses.