There Are Social And Physical Health Benefits To Owning A Pet
Merely caring for a pet brings with it inherent benefits, both physical and social. For instance, taking the dog for a daily walk is a great way to improve cardiovascular health and can even lower blood pressure. Whereas it can be easy to justify putting off going to the gym, the responsibility of pet ownership means youve got a consistent motivation to go outside each day and make sure your pet is happy and healthy.
One study found that dog owners were more likely to be social and outgoing because of pet ownership. The research also suggested that pets provided owners with more opportunities to interact with neighbours.
International Dog Day: 5 Ways Dogs Can Help Us Deal With Depression And Anxiety
- People suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety could benefit from the company of a dog.
For many pet parents, their furry companions are their ultimate source of joy. They can go on and on about the time spent with them and the happiness they add to their lives. Especially in the times of coronavirus pandemic, when everything is still and lacklustre, presence of a dog in the house can improve mood of those around. Numerous studies have found how a dog can sense the mood and emotions of its owner, and that itself is a comforting feeling.
People suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety could benefit from the company of a dog as their unconditional love and touch could bring down stress levels and release happy hormones.
Health experts across the world have acknowledged the positive effects of a pet in a person’s life.
Emotional support animals or psychiatric assistance dogs are widely accepted as complementary therapy along with traditional counselling and treatment for patients with mental disorders. Trained by experts, these animals can provide the necessary support and safety to their handlers, says Dr. Neha Patel, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital.
Here are five benefits of a dog for patients suffering from mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.
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Benefits Of Pets For Anxiety And Depression
The mental health benefits of pets for children and adults are many and most children love pets. Kids with special needs or with mental health conditions such as anxiety, social anxiety, OCD, autism, ADHD, and mood disorders can benefit both mentally and physically from having an animal. Just like tools such as meditation, supplements, essential oils, or neurofeedback, pets can help to calm the brain and body whether or not your child has a clinical condition.
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Can Dogs Tell If You Dont Like Them
Dogs are believed to be very socially aware. Research has shown that they can sense human emotions and pick up on your energy. For example, your dog can discern between happy and angry facial expressions, so you would right to believe that they can tell if you are upset with them.
While dogs usually trust their owners, it is believed that they can sense if a person is untrustworthy. On the other hand, if a dog recognizes you as an animal lover, they will most likely display behaviors such as sticking close to your side, wagging their tail, letting their tongue hang out, licking your hand, or rolling over on their back.
Last But Not Least Pets Give Us Unconditional Love
Dogs and cats love their owners unconditionally. For example, pets dont care how teens did on a test. Moreover, they dont judge teens on their social skills or athletic ability. They are simply happy to see their owners. And they want to spend time with them, no matter what.
This kind of unconditional love is good for mental health. It stimulates the brain to release dopamine, the chemical involved in sensing pleasure.
To summarize, the research on pets and mental health is clear. Therefore, people might want to learn how to ask a doctor for an emotional support animal.
In addition, teens that love animals might enjoy working at an animal shelter or at a riding stable. And families who dont have pets can go to their local humane society and bring home a new member of the family.
Images courtesy of unsplash
BMC Psychiatry. 2016 Dec 9 16:409.
Prev Chronic Dis. 2015 12:150204.
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Service Dogs Can Be Great Exercise Partners
When you exercise, your body produces endorphins hormones that make you feel good. These hormones elevate your mood, reducing anxiety and improving your overall well-being. It can be difficult to stay motivated enough to exercise daily, but dogs need regular physical activity. If you have a dog, youll be more likely to stick with your exercise routine, which can help you get your anxiety under control.
Pets Support Recovery From Mental Illness
Pets are extremely helpful for people recovering from severe mental health conditions. A new meta-analysis looked at 17 academic papers drawn from nine medical databases. As a result, researchers found evidence that having a pet benefits people with mental health conditions.
The papers looked at how cats, dogs, hamsters, finches, and even goldfish affected the mental well-being of people living with a mental illness. Overall, the review found that pets helped the participants to manage their emotions. In addition, it distracted them from the symptoms of their mental health condition.
For example, a 2016 study at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom involved 54 participants. All of them had been diagnosed with severe mental illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
As a result, 60 percent of participants placed a pet in their most important circle of supportive connections. Furthermore, about half of the participants said that pets helped them manage their illness and everyday life. Having pets also gave them a strong sense of identity, self-worth, and meaning. Moreover, pets distracted them from symptoms like hearing voices, suicidal thoughts, or rumination.
Moreover, caring for a pet also gave owners a feeling of being in control. Plus, it gave them a sense of security and routine.
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Benefits Of Therapy Dogs To Students
Therapy dogs are an excellent resource for calming and welcoming students. Sometimes the dog can feel who is in need and approach a particular student. The students will calm down, pat the dog, and resume their day. A small interaction can have a large impact on someones day.
This is a safe method for many students to be welcomed and relax into an otherwise anxious school day. Therapy dogs are often invited during finals week to give students an opportunity to break from their studies.
Other benefits include:
- Normalized blood pressure and heart rate.
- Gain confidence.
- Positive Attitude towards learning.
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How Dogs Can Help With Depression Stress And Anxiety: The Complete Guide
Its something that a lot of people deal with, but not a lot of people talk about it. So lets talk about it and how to use positive forces to assuage the effects. One of those positive forces? The four-legged, tail-wagging kind.
There are the obvious benefits of having a dog, of course, and any canine lover doesnt need to be told about the everyday delights of having a darling four-legged friend around the feverish tail wagging inspired by a favorite humans homecoming, the sleepy cuddles, the delight on their faces when notified of an upcoming walk but dogs can have even more positive effects on a persons mental state that many of us realize. And when it comes to the depression, anxiety, and stress that are such a significant aspect of the human experience, we think investigating the canine effect on human mental health is a worthwhile one.
Ways Pets Can Help With Depression And Anxiety
Pet owners experience many stress lowering benefits that improve health conditions as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. Animals can offer emotional support to children and adults with the unconditional love, physical attention, and increased social interactions and engagement they offer.
So how do pets reduce stress and anxiety? Well, the simple act of petting animals has been clinically shown to reduce stress, blood pressure and decrease the probability of anxiety and depression. Dog owners and cat owners may not agree to which pet is the best but they will agree that pets are a wonderful addition to their family.
Kids today face a myriad of stressors that have led to increased levels of mental illness amongst our youth. Stress isnt something that can be avoided and instead we need to integrate ways to calm the brain to inoculate our children.
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Will My Dog Know Im Sad
Dogs can sniff out cancer and even detect blood sugar levels, but do they recognize our emotions?
Many studies have found that dogs are susceptible to our emotions. For example, one study found that dogs are sensitive to changes in facial expression. While this study only used angry faces and happy faces, scientists assume that dogs will be able to recognize all if not most changes in the facial expressions of their owners. In other words, they can look at our faces and tell whether were happy or sad at least most of the time.
Another study looked specifically at whether or not dogs can recognize emotions based on vocal tones. This study used a phenomenon called head-orienting to tell which side of a dogs brain the stimuli were activating. To put things simply, dogs naturally tilt their head when processing audio stimuli based on the part of their brain theyre using to interpret the audio.
The researchers were able to tell what sort of emotion dogs were interpreting each vocalization as using this method. They found that dogs were very good at understanding human voices, even when faces or other cues werent visible.
There are many other studies that have looked at whether or not dogs can interpret emotions. However, they all come to the same conclusion dogs are extremely good at reading a humans mental state based on things like facial expression, body language, and tone of voice.
They Can Help Reduce The Effects Of Depression And Loneliness
Pets are a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation, often helping us to live mentally healthier lives sometimes without even realising it. In particular, the regular exercise from walking a dog can be beneficial for people suffering with depression.
Pets also offer company and someone to share the day with, which is incredibly valuable for pet-owners who experience loneliness, particularly in later life.
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Dogs Support Recovery From Mental Illness
Dogs and other furry pets can help with the recovery process after undergoing a severe illness. In an e-mail published in a journal in the journal e-medicine and health, the author described his findings as being relevant for the research. The researchers concluded therefore that pets can help improve the quality of life for individuals. The researchers looked to see how dogs, cats, hamsters, finches and goldfish affect people who suffer from mental illness. Overall, it found pets help to control their emotional responses. Moreover this prevented people from experiencing any mental problems or symptoms. A survey conducted by the University of Manchester involving 54 students in 2016 included more data.
Some Dogs Have Been Especially Trained To Help
As any dog owner will tell you, your dog can cheer you up and comfort you when youre down. In fact, the very first time we hear a dog used for therapy comes from the ninth century!
Your relationship with a dog can be more soothing than any other. One research team compared how people responded to a stress test doing arithmetic and putting their hands into ice-water for two minutes either in the presence of a friend, their own pet, or a spouse. In the presence of their pets, pet owners showed significantly lower heart rate and blood pressure before the task, less reaction to the task, and a faster recovery than the non-pet-owning participants who had a friend present. In fact, the pet tamed their stress more than a spouse.
In a separate study, researchers found that people with high blood pressure showed less reaction to a stress task after they had a new pet for six months, with better scores than a control group on the same medication who didnt have pets.
You might especially consider getting a dog for an anxious child. In a 2015 study, only 12 percent of children with a pet dog met the criteria for anxiety, compared to 21 percent of children without a dog
Some tasks dogs can be trained to do, according to the National Service Animal Registry:
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Making Your Dog A Therapy Dog
Therapy dogs are everyday pets. They do not need to go through extensive training, although obedience training, whether in a class or at home,is very good for reinforcing the bond and communication between you and your pet. Therapy dogs must be well-mannered. No jumping or barking here! Most importantly, you and your dog need to have a bond that demonstrates not owner and pet but partners. For all the requirements to become certified with Alliance of Therapy Dogs, go to www.therapydogs.com
Dogs And Depression: How Dogs Reduce Stress Anxiety And Sadness
All dog owners will tell you about the joys of having a pet. And although it is hard not to feel happy when playing fetch with a puppy aside from the immediate pleasure that they bring, do dogs actually help reduce depression?
Feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression arise when we internalize negativity. As adults, we seek approval from friends, family, and other members of society, and in turn, allow our self-worth to be determined by the judgment of others. By doing this, we personalize negative situations that we cannot control and forget that the real source of our worth comes from within.
Dogs have evolved to be highly in tune with the behaviors and emotions of humans, and provide us with unconditional love. It is because of this judgment-free love, that their invaluable companionship offers us some serious mental health benefits.
Below is a roundup of 6 of the ways that dogs help us fight depression.
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Value Of Therapy Dogs
Simply having a therapy dog visit may help people forget their troubles, bodily or mental discomfort, fears or maybe just bring a smile. Peoples mental and physical health has been shown to improve just by touching a dog. So when humans and animals interact, chemicals like serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin are produced in the brain that plays a role in raising emotions.
Aside from helping people relax and enjoy the company of their animal therapy companion, it also gives comfort, decreases loneliness, stimulates the mind, and serves as a delightful diversion.
What Is The Cleanest Pet To Own
Some of the cleanest pets to own involve hamsters, guinea pigs, cats, and dogs. While one of the biggest problems with dogs and cats is hair, some dog breeds, such as Labradoodles, shed less, keeping your home clean. However, the best way to handle hair shedding is by regularly grooming your pet.
Small pets such as hamsters and guinea pigs are very easy to look after as they are relatively clean animals.
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Dogs Reduce Isolation And Loneliness
The world is constantly changing, and is filled with random and impersonal events. As a result, it is important for us to recognize that we cannot control or personalize every bad situation that happens, and that we cannot rely on others to determine our value. However, knowing that, isolation and loneliness can still trigger depression, and its important to understand our value without retreating from social and cultural institutions. Caring for a dog makes people feel valuable and wanted. The unconditional companionship of a dog helps reduce stress and prevent illness. Additionally, dog-related activities create a comfortable space for new hobbies and friendships to develop.
How Dogs Help With Anxiety
Dogs help with anxiety and other mental illness, similarly to how they help with depression.
They increase oxytocin production, which decreases stress and fear, and provides unconditional companionship to their owners. These things help with mental illnesses of all kinds, including anxiety and depression.
In our modern world, children might be particularly vulnerable to anxiety, even in the elementary school years. Luckily, these benefits are apparent across all ages, including children. One study did find that children who owned dogs were less likely to have anxiety or a similar disorder than those without dogs.
Dogs might be particularly useful at treating anxiety in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
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