An increasing amount of research is proving that regular contact with, or owning a dog can be highly beneficial for your mental, as well as physical health. It’s not surprising that hospitals, nursing homes and various rehabilitation therapies are embracing dogs to assist with elevating mood, relieving tension and even naturally decreasing pain experienced by people.
Here are five ways that a dog will help you feeling well mentally and physically:
Alleviating depression and lifting mood
Organisations in the UK, such as Dogs for Depression, advocate that dogs can assist with overall mental health and in particular, depression, in a number of ways. Benefits include providing companionship, lending a sense of responsibility which, in turn leads to feeling a sense of purpose, feeling fulfilment and security, as well as the health benefits of regular exercise.
As a result, it is becoming more and more common to see dogs at nursing homes. Dr Pete Wedderburn, veterinary surgeon says that for, 'elderly people living on their own, dogs often become a central part of their lives, offering unconditional love, continual company, and a welcome alternative to the loneliness that can be so common.'
It is vital for most dog breeds to have one to two hours of exercise per day. This means that normally withdrawn people are out and about more and, in turn, are increasing their interaction with the community. People with dogs are statistically proven to be approached more by strangers asking to pat your dog or ask questions. It is also very easy to strike up a conversation with fellow dog owners because talking about your dog comes easily for most.
More recently, activities such as flyball, agility and retrieving competitions are a wonderful way for both you and your dog to make new acquaintances which may eventually develop into lasting friendships. Dogs themselves are fantastic friends, as Dr Wedderburn states: 'A dog is the ultimate non-judgemental, loving companion, offering exactly the type of emotional support that people in such situations need.'
Exercise and routine
Treatments for depression often include creating a routine as well as regular exercise. The responsibilities of dog ownership naturally require you to put your mind to constructive daily tasks which resemble routine. Daily exercise will naturally release positive endorphins which is also beneficial for mental health.
Getting out in all weather can sometimes be challenging and the added strain of rainy weather can deter some which is where a good quality, fast drying dog robe such as the Siccaro Supreme Pro dog drying coat, will come in handy so that the extra work of drying a dog after rain or a swim won’t become a deterrent. Being outdoors in itself has been proven repeatedly to improve both mental and physical health which is a great added benefit of dog ownership.
Our bodies release cortisol when we’re confronted with stressful situations whether it be after an argument, running late for an appointment or a mishap at work. Cortisol will make your heart pump and give you that extra bit of energy to deal with the stress at hand. Many studies have proven that having a dog nearby and stroking a dog can reduce cortisol levels, and petting a dog can increase oxytocin which is the hormone released when we are in love.
Security and affection helps with trauma recovery
Due to the empathy and unconditional love that dogs provide to their owners, the relationship that they build with their owners tends to be steady and conflict-free, which is highly beneficial for mental health sufferers. Therapies for specific issues such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, dementia and various other mental health conditions are increasingly integrating canine companionship as part of ongoing therapy.
There are many case studies where dog ownership has played a vital role in PTSD recovery. The stability, affection and interdependency that dogs provide enables people to heal traumas, feel secure, ease distress and enable the trust that is needed to rebuild social skills and confidence.
About Siccaro Absorbent Drying Robe
Siccaro Supreme Pro is perhaps the world’s most absorbent drying robe. Based on Wet2Dry fabric, it a absorbs over seven times its own weight in water. Double absorbent layer gets your dog 80% dry in about 15 minutes. Supreme Pro robes come in seven sizes, from Chihuahua to Newfoundland, and five colours. Prices range from £89 to £140.
For more info see: Siccaro.co.uk/wetdog/?source=psychologies
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Image: Sanne Ammitzbøll