Millions of people around the country love having dogs as a part of their family — what they may not know is how greatly their furry friend can benefit their mental health.
Recent studies exploring the bond between humans and animals have started revealing what so many of us have suspected all along - having a dog has many benefits! This research is how we found that dogs are great at interpreting our mood through our tone of voice, body language and gestures.
Now we have started to better analyze precisely how our furry friends benefit us mentally and emotionally. Here are three ways dogs can help with our mental health:
1. Early exposure to dogs decreases the chance of psychiatric disorders
A recent study showed that adults who had a dog during childhood were 25% less likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The apparent effect of exposure to a pet dog is the most evident when the dog is present at a child’s birth or joins a family before the child turns three years old. Exposure to a family dog during this time was associated with a 50% less chance for a schizophrenia diagnosis.
2. Dogs can help battle depression
Studies have found that dog parents are less likely to suffer from depression than those without dogs. Playing with dogs and even feeding them treats has shown to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which helps pet parents relax and be happy.
Companionship from a dog can help fend off some triggers of depression such as isolation and loneliness. Studies have shown that having a dog can even prevent illness and add years to your life!
3. Dogs promote a healthy routine and self-care
A lack of routine and structure in a person’s life can make them feel unorganized or anxious. Many people who struggle with maintaining a healthy, normal routine may benefit from bringing a dog into their life.
If you don’t wake up early enough, your dog most likely will! Going for a walk in the morning and eating breakfast is a staple in every dog’s life. This gets you up and out of the house for walks, hikes or runs — just being outdoors provides its own mental health benefits. Taking care of a pet reminds us to take care of ourselves.
Of course, bringing a dog into your home isn’t the answer for every person or family, but people should be aware of the mental health benefits that come with the furry package! Remember, dogs can help us just as much as we can help them.