Pawsitive effects: how dogs can boost our mental health

by Kris Rollo

woman with white haired dog

Dogs are regarded as best friends for a good reason. They bring pawsitive mental health benefits to humans through loyalty, companionship, and playful antics.

World Mental Health Day takes place on 10th October, so we’ll take a look at some of the ways having or being around dogs can impact your mental health.


Dogs help to enhance your mood

Dogs are natural mood-boosters. Spending time with them, whether through play or cuddling, stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine, often referred to as "feel-good" hormones. This can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety in humans. And us humans can help dogs by caring for them, treating them with love, and looking after their wellbeing - and regular grooming is particular useful for this.

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, dog owners are less likely to experience symptoms of depression and report fewer feelings of loneliness.


Dogs help you to keep your stress levels low

One of the most significant benefits of having a dog is their ability to reduce stress. Interacting with a dog can trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone known to lower stress levels. Numerous studies have found that petting a dog could lead to a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, both physiological markers of stress reduction.

In a survey conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), 74% of pet owners reported improved mental health after getting a pet, including decreased stress levels.


Dogs keep you in better physical shape

Of course, looking after dogs encourages us engage in physical activity. And we know that physical activity has a lifting effect on our mental wellbeing. Daily walks, runs, and playtime in the park are not only good for your dog's health but also your own. Engaging in regular exercise can have profound effects on mental wellbeing, reducing the risk of conditions like depression and anxiety.

BMC Public Health, a peer-reviewed journal, found that dog owners are more likely to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines, with around two thirds of dog owners achieving at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. The effects on our physical health are also linked to our mental wellbeing.


Dogs can help us meet new people

Dogs are social magnets, sparking conversations and interactions with fellow dog owners, and random passers-by, during walks or visits to the dog park. This social aspect can help reduce feelings of isolation and build a sense of community. There might be dog specific social events in your local community, or you may want to start your own meetups.

We recently published an article on how you can meet other dog owners around Surrey so take a look for some tips!


Dogs help us to get into a routine

Caring for a dog requires a routine and a great deal of responsibility. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals struggling with mental health disorders like bipolar disorder or PTSD. Having a daily schedule and the need to care for their dog can provide a sense of purpose and stability. For example, people with ADHD may benefit from the structure and routine that a dog needs. Some people with ADHD are hyperactive – especially children – and playing with a pet can be a great way to release excess energy.

Another report from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute found that dog ownership can help improve self-esteem, self-worth, and the establishment of daily routines.


What should you do before getting a dog?

Looking after a dog takes more work and commitment than many people realise, and you should consider everything before deciding. You'll need to have the time, money and energy, as well as a calm home environment with routine and consistency. Helping a friend with their dog can help you enjoy canine time without committing to getting a dog yourself.

When you’re ready to think about getting a pet, consider the following:

  • how much outdoor space do you have
  • how active you are and can be
  • how much time do you have to spend with your pet
  • how much money do you have for vet’s bills, insurance, food, toys

The bond between humans and dogs runs deep, and it's not just about companionship. The mental health benefits of having a dog are supported by statistics and fascinating facts, highlighting the significant positive impact these furry friends can have on our wellbeing.

From stress reduction and mood enhancement to increased physical activity and social connections, dogs truly are amazing allies in our journey towards better mental health.

So, if you're considering bringing a dog into your life, you might just be giving your mental health a much-needed boost. Don't forget, we're here for your pooch's grooming needs - visit us at our Cobham, Weybridge, or Surbiton salons.

If you’d like to book your first, or your next, appointment with Doggy Styling visit us today at our Cobham dog grooming salon, our Weybridge dog grooming salon, or our Surbiton dog grooming salon.


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