18th January 2021
Looking after our mental health is important as it plays such a vital part of our lives and impacts how we feel, think and act. Our dogs are not only loyal companions, but they come with some powerful health benefits that can help reduce depression and anxiety, lower stress levels, and they also help relieve loneliness for many people.
Here are just some ways our pets help us lead mentally healthier lives.
Helping us socialise
Dogs have a way to encourage their owners to head out and exercise, with daily dog walks offering a chance to socialise with other walkers as well as helping to start and maintain new friendships.
Pet clubs, stores and training classes are also great places to meet new people, an opportunity that might not have been possible without owning a dog.
Helping us exercise
Our dogs like to keep us active, whether it’s by playing a game without leaving the house or heading outdoors for their daily walk. This can be beneficial to both our physical health and mental wellbeing while helping us meet our daily exercise requirements.
These benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones while reducing the risk of some chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, asthma, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Regular walking also helps decreased stress and reduce the risk of depression while our dogs provide the motivation that’s needed to step through the door.
Our canine friends offer companionship which helps prevent the health risks associated with chronic illness. Companionship is a basic human need and caring for a dog can help us feel needed and wanted while we have someone to spend the day with.
According to PDSA’s Animal Welfare Report 2020, 35% of dog owners got their dog for companionship, showing that they can be incredibly valuable to those who would otherwise have no one.
Helping us stick to a routine
Setting and sticking to a routine has psychological benefits, as it helps us cope with changes, to form healthy habits which in turn reduce our stress levels. A routine will mean different things to different people, but knowing your dog is dependent on you be fed and get walked can help in finding the balance that’s right for you.
The predictability can offer you comfort in an otherwise unpredictable world, and your dog will benefit from a schedule too as it helps keep them balanced and calm.
The companionship of an animal can provide us with a unique and rewarding relationship but it’s important to only get a dog if it’s the right thing for you and your lifestyle. Owning a dog can sometimes be difficult and potentially stressful, especially when adjusting to a new pet or due to the pressures of training.