How a dog can help with depression, anxiety and stress

Dogs are wonderful companions. Not only do they bring entertainment and affection into our lives, but they love us unconditionally too, especially at the times when we need it most. Their intelligence enables them to understand our body language, mood and even a change in our tone of voice, and studies show that playing with a dog can elevate our levels of dopamine and serotonin, the chemicals responsible for mood balance.

Here are some of the ways in which owning a dog can help you cope with depression, anxiety and stress:

A source of stress relief

The action and sensation of stroking a dog can lower your blood pressure. In turn, this eases stress and helps you to feel calmer and more relaxed.

Encouraging you to exercise

A Harvard study showed that people with dogs walked an average of 30 minutes more a week. Taking your dog for a long walk or hike is a great way to keep yourself and your dog healthy. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling and are considered to be natural painkillers.

Having a furry friend to rely on

When depression strikes, sufferers can be hit with feelings of isolation and loneliness. Having a furry, four-legged friend to come home to can add a considerable amount of happiness and purpose to your life, especially when they’re so great to cuddle up to on the sofa after a difficult day.

Providing opportunities to socialise

Dogs can be more sociable creatures than us and frequently want to stop and say hello to other dogs and people they meet when you’re out together on walks. Being thrown into a situation where you chat to other dog owners is a great way to reduce anxiety and build self-confidence.

A furry distraction

If bombarded with stressful and anxious thoughts, a dog is an excellent source of laughter and playfulness to bring a smile. Dogs don’t criticise or judge, they simply live in the moment. Playing with a dog stimulates the brain and body and helps to release endorphins too.

Helping you to keep a routine

Dogs need a regular feeding and exercise routine to maintain a healthy life balance and you do too! No matter how you feel, caring for your pet is a priority and by putting them first, their routine will work for you too.

Note: Owning a dog is a big commitment and requires a lot of time, attention and responsibility too. If you don’t already own a dog and you’re thinking of getting one to help with depression, anxiety or stress, make sure you research thoroughly beforehand to ensure that you’re able to give any future dog the best home.


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  2. Great article. Thank you. I have lung cancer, had half of my right lung removed last September but have had tests on left and my poor 9 year old Goldie has been so distressed especially when I had to go to hospital in another city for my op and he had to stay with a friend! I had never been away from my boy and he is so amazing. I am managing to walk him for half an hour in the morning and he will stop and wait for me and always turns to make sure I am all right. Friend’s take him out in the afternoon and my husband takes him at weekends but he doesn’t like leaving me.
    He has helped me so much and is my best friend and even at 9, can be a cheeky monkey and makes me laugh. He plays with our cat and although we have always had wonderful dogs and have loved them dearly, Shadow is incredible and is helping me to be even more determined to fight the cancer and he is absolutely my very best friend.

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