The 6 Benefits of Dogs for Mental Health

Our mental health is very important, and anyone can struggle with their mental health from time to time. However, there are lots of things we can do ourselves to help improve our mental health over time. So how can pets support mental wellness? We wanted to highlight the benefits of having pets, especially dogs, for mental health awareness month.

a small red sausage dog sat in the front basket of a bicycle. he is wearing a cream bew dogs herringbone harness.
a cute fluffy dog wearing a blue harness, rainbow rope lead and a TY heart tag. He is sitting in front of a blue door, he looks happy and is supporting his owner's mental health

It’s official, pets really can be great for mental health! Studies have shown that having a pet can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, lower blood pressure and even provide some relief for those struggling with mental health issues. Pets provide companionship and a sense of purpose for their owners, which can be especially helpful for those struggling with feelings of loneliness or isolation. Even just sitting and petting your dog can have a calming effect and promote feelings of well-being.

In particular, Dogs are wonderful companions and can be especially good for mental health due to their loyalty and affectionate nature. No wonder that, according to a 2021 survey, 24% of UK households now own a pet dog!

A woman in a leather coat holding a yorkshire terrier wearing a pink jumper and lilac lead
A guest at the Bew Dogs launch party with a pug in their lap

Dogs are naturally playful animals, and playing with them can help reduce stress and anxiety while also promoting feelings of happiness and joy. Engaging in play activities with a dog can also help improve cognitive function and boost energy levels. Engaging in fun activities with your pooch can also provide a sense of connection and social support, as it gives the opportunity to bond and create positive memories – why not check out our popular dog toys, which provide endless of opportunities for fun and playtime together.

Apart from providing companionship, dogs can be good for mental health in many other ways. Spending time with a dog can increase levels of the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Taking a dog for a walk can also provide an opportunity for exercise and fresh air, which can improve mood and boost energy levels – and many dog walkers may meet other people on dogs on their daily walks too.

Owners also often report that the sense of responsibility that comes with caring for a pet can provide them with purpose, routine and improve self-esteem. This can be especially important for someone who is struggling with their mental health.

Dogs can be great companions for people who are feeling lonely. As social animals who love to spend time with their owners, they can provide a sense of companionship that can be especially helpful for those who may be living alone or feeling isolated. Dogs are loyal and affectionate, and spending time with them can help reduce feelings of loneliness and provide a sense of purpose and connection.

a black and tan small sausage dog wearing a burnt orange jumper on a bench

The benefits of other companion animals for mental health

Obviously, we love dogs and see every day the benefit of having loving dogs in our lives. However, cats can also be good for mental health in similar ways to dogs. While cats may not be as social as dogs, they can still provide companionship and affection for their owners. Spending time with a cat can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, and petting a cat has been shown to have a calming effect just as it does for dogs.

Taking good care of a cat can provide a sense of purpose and routine, which can be especially helpful for those struggling with feelings of loneliness or depression. Overall, cats can be great pets for mental health, but it’s important to choose a pet that fits your lifestyle and personality.

Remember if you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to seek some help by telling a friend or family member, speaking to your GP or reaching out to a Mental Health charity, such as MIND, CALM or Samaritans.

Have you noticed any other benefits to having pets in your life? Let us know at: [email protected] or message us on one of our social accounts.

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