The Amazing Ways Dogs Can Help Treat Depression
Veterinarian Reviewed on September 14, 2017 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in Dogs
Dogs go above and beyond when it comes to relationship-building and companionship. Not only do they provide protection and unconditional love, but some studies show that they can even improve our overall wellbeing and mental health.
Millions of people all over the world suffer from depression and anxiety. These mental illnesses lead to debilitating symptoms such as insomnia, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, and disinterest in formerly fulfilling activities. But what can a furry friend do for you?
A Bond Unlike Any Other
Dogs offer a level of love that is unknown to most other creatures. Although the saying goes “A dog is a man’s best friend,” it’s safe to say that dogs give unconditional love to any owner, regardless of their disposition.
According to Dr. Teri Wright, bonding with a dog is highly beneficial for patients suffering from depression or anxiety. This is because dogs are capable of forming uncomplicated relationships much like that between two close friends. There’s no mixed emotions or fighting. Dogs just feel emotions with you and remind you that you are not alone.
In addition to unbeatable companionship, dogs encourage you to exercise and stay active. The simple act of walking your dog increases your serotonin levels, which are associated with overall happiness. Physical activity also leads to better blood pressure and reduced stress hormones.
Routine And Responsibility
Another way dogs treat mental illness is by giving you a daily schedule that includes feeding, walking, and caring for them throughout the day. This sense of routine and responsibility has previously proven to combat depression. Knowing another living thing is counting on you shows you how important you really are.
If you feel like you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, it’s crucial to seek professional help. Dogs may offer incredible support but won’t replace guidance from a mental health expert.
The following infographic delves deeper into the effect dogs have on their owner’s mental state:
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan