Does having a dog help with depression?
Having a loving dog is like therapy
Today I’m going to tell you about my story and how my dog helped lift my spirits so that I could get back to writing. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll learn the benefits of being a dog owner.
It’s a well known fact that having a dog can help with depression and honestly, I’ve been a bit down lately. I haven’t written in my blog for about a week when I usually hack away every day at my articles and research.
To stay in alignment with my new mission to remain true to myself and live an authentic life, I’ll tell you that I’ve been going through some personal challenges lately that are causing a shift in my reality and forcing me to take a hard look at the direction my life is going. The direction is not the challenge, it’s facing the reality of not being in alignment that is the difficult task.
A Dog’s Intuition
That being said, I’ve been quite weepy in the last few days and my dogs know it. For me, I’ve always been the strong person in my family. I am the rock that everyone leans on, but sometimes the rock needs to crumble and that’s been me. So I turned on Netflix and watched a movie all by myself. At the end, I just started bawling out loud. Unnecessarily and totally out of character for the context of the movie – but it was my way of releasing the tension and sorrow of the burden I am carrying.
Anyway, my 9 year old dachshund jumped up on my recliner and sat on my chest, with his adorable big brown eyes and he looked at me as though to say he knew that I was sad. The he started licking my arm with these long, drawn out licks and it was the most soothing and thoughtful jesture anyone could have ever done for me. Just writing about it is making me get all misty.
So having dogs is more than just fun and games, making them sit and do tricks. Their unconditional love and adoration is something that we as human beings thrive on and is very necessary.
Research has shown that having a dog reduces stress and can actually lower your blood pressure. While dogs are able to understand your words (they can have a vocabulary of about 2000 words!) they are more intune with your tone of voice, body language and will look into your eyes to gauge how you are feeling and respond according to what they think you need. As my dog did for me, having a dog can help you instantly (within 5 minutes) reduce your blood pressure and calm you down.
Another reason why having a dog can help with depression is simply the fact that you are forced to exercise with him. If you are a good doggie mama, you’ll take him outside to do his business, take him for walks or (even more fun) take him to the dog park so he can run around and get all of his wiggles out. I suggest you do the same and get your wiggles out before you head back home. lol
Just writing about all of this doggie love is lifting my spirits, and that’s another reason why dogs are so awesome to have (sidebar)
More tidbits about dog therapy
That loving look can melt any heart!
Here are a few more tidbits if I haven’t already convinced you that being a dog owner can save your life…Having a dog can help to elevate your seratonin and dopamine levels. These are hormones that induce a calm and relaxed state.
Patients of heart surgery live longer as a result of owning a dog – or a pet. But this is a doggy blog so let’s stick to the topic at hand, shall we? lol Recovery time can be reduced when you have a dog to love you and look after you. It can also take your mind off your surgery and recovery so dogs play double duty here. And once again I have to say that writing all of this has taken my mind off of my sad and depressing thoughts – so dogs win again!
Grow old with a pup
Pet owners over the age of 65 make less visits to their doctors than those without. Now I’m not sure if it’s because they spend so much time taking their dogs to the vet or they just plain forget but I have an 80 year old mom that goes to the doctor all the time. If she has a tickle in her throat she goes to the emergency room. Drives my sister nuts! She used to have a dog but when she died my mom was so devastated that she decided she didn’t want another dog for quite a while. She doesn’t have one now though, hence the frequent and honestly unnecessary trips to the doctor. Perhaps it’s time to look into a new dog for my mother so she doesn’t get so agitated all the time. It’s like dopamine with fur. lol
How could you not fall in love with this face?
One of the main reasons for this therapeutic effect is the basic human need for touch. *Warning* If you don’t like licking, don’t get a dog. Or get used to it because dogs love to show you their love with their tongues. Some people who live alone are not getting the necessary tactile requirement (touch) Perhaps that’s the reason they don’t live to be as old as dog owners.
I cannot emphasize enough how beneficial it is to be a pet owner, a dog in particular. It will help you reduce stress, increase your exercise, provide necessary companionship and unconditional love, it can even help you meet new friends when you take your dog out for daily walks or to the dog park (or even to the vet!)
I just want to thank you for reading my article today, and to thank my lovely dachschund Shaggy for cheering me up when I was feeling down. Not to kill the vibe, but I should really go brush his teeth now because it’s his bedtime and I don’t want his teeth to rot over night. Not to mention the stinky dog breath in my face when we go to bed.
If you want to read my posts about these two topics please check out these posts. Thanks again and please feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
Mahalo for the photos Jennifer Malia Cathcart, Lori Takato, Kelly Ann Robinson
Brushing teeth: https://thedoggiemama.com/grooming-your-dog-at-home
Doggie Love: https://thedoggiemama.com/how-do-dogs-show-their-love