It’s clear that the UK is a nation of dog lovers. Did you know that 34% of British households own a dog?
That’s around 10 million of us who can’t get enough of those adorable fluff balls. But your canine companion could be doing more for your mental health than you know.
There are many ways in which your pooch can improve your mental well-being with just one wag of that cute little tail.
Ways Your Dog Can Improve Your Mental Health
- Stroking your dog releases endorphins
- No judgment
- They make us laugh
- Increase physical activity
- Providing structure
Stroking Your Dog Releases Endorphins
The link between stroking your dog and a reduction in stress levels has been scientifically proven.
Build-ups of the stress hormone cortisol are the reason we start to feel anxious. However, stroking your dog releases large hits of oxytocin. This feel-good hormone is the same chemical that brings parents and their children closer together.
However, it’s not just stress prevention that stroking your pooch can help with. All that oxytocin is also great for keeping your blood pressure in check.
Your Dog Won’t Judge
A less chemical-driven way your dog can help with your mental health is by providing a friendly ear to help when you need to offload some feelings.
They may act like a fool and bark at trees. But your dog is incredibly perceptive. Their ability to mirror emotions as well as provide unconditional love makes us more likely to confide in them.
This friendly ear is a simple act of companionship. But it can improve your ability to trust others and encourage you to share your feelings and experiences with more people, including work colleagues.
They Make Us Laugh
You won’t need us to tell you that your dog is a goof. The endless tail-chasing and confused looks when you pretend to throw their favourite ball all help improve our mood.
Laughing improves our mental health in many ways. Even fake laughs have been proven to release those feel-good hormones.
Having a Dog Improves Your Physical Health
Owning a dog makes you more likely to hit your daily activity goals. Getting more active is a great way of dealing with stress and mental pain.
Taking your pooch for a stroll around the block not only improves your’s and your pet’s physical health but also provides valuable thinking time to destress.
In addition, dog walking is a great way to meet and speak with like-minded individuals and strike up new friendships. Which are also crucial for overcoming anxious times.
Your Pet Provides Structure
We are creatures of habit. Having consistent and effective daily routines can actually help reduce stress.
For example, having a good sleep routine can help improve the quality of your rest and encourage mental sharpness.
The crucial daily care tasks associated with pet ownership offer an opportunity for structure and routine in our lives. So, now you see, your pup is actually helping you just by needing to be fed and watered every day.
They Are Your Best Friend
We hold our pets incredibly close. The points above around conversing with your dog, having a routine, and stroking all outline the importance of companionship in improving your overall mental health.
Tests around therapy animals have also shown that canine companionship can have positive impacts on the elderly and children with learning difficulties.
Is there anything your pooch can’t do?!
What If You Don’t Have a Pet?
But what happens if you haven’t got a pet? Aren’t well enough to look after one, or live somewhere that doesn’t allow pets?
You don’t have to suffer alone. Visit a pet-owning friend and spend some time with their pooch. Or think about visiting a local doggy or cat cafe? Maybe even give puppy yoga a try.
Dogs have always possessed the ability to brighten our days. But there’s more to their influence than just bringing a smile to your face.
Your pup has superpowers that they use constantly to help keep your mental health as balanced as possible.
So maybe think about giving them an extra treat tonight? Yeah?
This article was written by Tom Spruce.