Most dog owners know how joyful it can be to spend an hour walking in the park with their pet at their side or how relaxing it can be to sit and stroke their pooch as they relax and watch TV on the sofa, but did you know that having a dog can actually boost your mental health in the long term?
Pets, especially dogs are excellent at gauging our moods via our body language, tone and gestures. Many of them use this knowledge to be there for us when we need it most, and no science has found that animals like dogs and cats can actually reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as help us to deal with loneliness.
In fact, recent studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from low mood and depression than people who do not have a companion animal. How does this work?
One of the most obvious reasons why dogs can boost your mood is the simple fact that they are always there for you. Dogs, especially, will always rush to greet you when you get home, and they’ll faithfully stay by your side come what may. For people who may be feeling lonely, this can be a great source of comfort that helps them to feel less alone and more content in life.
Scientists have also discovered that playing with dogs can increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the body. These are both “happy’ hormones that can give you an instant boost. So next time you’re feeling down, why not head out to the park and have a game of catch?
They Keep You Fit
A healthy body is vital if you want to have a healthy mind, and there’s nothing like having an energetic bundle of fur to look after to keep you fit and healthy. Most dogs need to be walked for at least one hour a day and doing all that walking will do as much for your physical and mental health as it does for your dog’s.
Meet New People
People who suffer from low mood and illnesses like anxiety and depression often become isolated. This can make them feel worse because humans are social animals and they need some interaction to thrive. The great thing about having a dog is that they are a magnet for conversation. So many people want to come up and stroke them or talk to you about their breed etc., and it’s a great way to get a bit more interaction in your day without having to struggle to think of stuff to say – it’s all about the dog.
As you can see, having a dog really can boost your mood. They can soothe your anxieties, release happy-making hormones and provide you with the companionship you crave, all for little more than a regular supply of dry dog food, treats and pet insurance! If you don’t already have a dog, that should be enough to convince you to, if not adopt one, at least borrow a friend’s from time to time.