There are many positives to owning a dog, and that is why they are one of the most popular types of pets. They can become an integral part of the family or make a great companion for a person living alone. The benefits of dog ownership extend to a dog owner’s physical and emotional well-being, and there have been multiple studies that have proven these various benefits. Studies have even proved that dog ownership can help to reduce stress, and there are many reasons for this. Here is just ten of the ways that your dog can help you to reduce stress.
1. Reduced Cortisol Production
Whenever you experience different emotions or you face difficult situations, your body has a physical response with the production of hormones. The hormones that are produced depend on the emotions that you are feeling at that time. When people are feeling stressed, their bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. Those who have pets are proven to have lower cortisol levels during times of stress than people who do not have a pet at home. This is why dogs are often used to support people who are going through a stressful situation.
2. Increased Levels of Oxytocin
The hormone oxytocin, also known as the feel-good hormone, can make you feel happier and reduce stress levels. It is naturally produced when something makes you feel happy. Research has shown that when people are petting an animal, their body produces more oxytocin, thus making them feel happier and reducing stress. This shows that dog owners can feel better by petting their dog during stressful times.
3. Socializing with Other People
When people do not socialize, they can often suffer more from the effects of stress. Similarly, when someone is feeling stressed, they are less inclined to socialize with other people. This can become a vicious circle. Very Well Mind says that having a dog can help you to socialize because it encourages people to talk to you, thus initiating contact and communication with others. The increased socializing from having a dog can also improve an individual’s self-esteem.
4. Increased Physical Exercise
It is well-documented that increasing levels of physical activity not only has physical benefits but that it can also benefit mental health. This includes reducing stress levels. Owning a dog encourages you to increase your activity levels as you need to walk it regularly and you will probably play with them at home. By increasing your activity levels to care for your dog, you will also improve your mental health and reduce stress. You will also benefit from the extra exercise by becoming generally fitter and finding it easier to complete your daily tasks.
5. Getting Out of the House
When you are feeling stressed, you might not feel motivated to leave the house. Staying in the house, not getting fresh air, and feeling claustrophobic in your home environment can make the symptoms of stress even worse. If you own a dog, it is your responsibility to take the dog out for walks. Therefore, having a dog encourages you to get out of the house, which can then reduce your stress levels.
6. Better Focus and Routine
Suffering from stress can make it difficult to focus and your days may become chaotic. Once you get out of your regular routine, you can feel even more stressed and may find it difficult to complete tasks that were easily manageable when you were not stressed. If you decide to get a dog, your responsibilities include feeding them at set times and making sure they get enough exercise. This can give you something to focus on and get you back into a routine. By having greater focus and a better daily routine, your stress levels are reduced.
7. Reduced Loneliness
Loneliness can exacerbate any stress you are feeling. If you are lonely, it can make coping with any situation seem more difficult to face and overcome. Owning a dog is one of the best solutions to this problem. People who own dogs do not feel as lonely because their pet becomes their companion as they are together throughout the day. When you do not feel lonely, problems feel easier to cope with and cause you less stress. Similarly, a dog can help people to cope with grief. For this reason, someone who has lost their spouse can benefit from the comfort and company that dog ownership brings.
8. Lower Blood Pressure
According to Animal Smart, a 2001 study showed that pet owners with high blood pressure were able to keep their blood pressure levels lower during times of stress than patients who do not own a dog. Not only is having lower blood pressure good for reducing your stress levels, but it is also beneficial to your physical health as it reduces the risk of you suffering from serious conditions, such as cardiovascular problems.
9. Making You Laugh
There is an old saying that laughter is the best medicine in the world, and there is possibly some truth in this old wive’s tale. Some studies have shown that laughter can relieve tension and reduce the impact of the stress response. Many people find their pets very entertaining because of the funny facial expressions they pull, their playful antics, and even their occasional naughty behavior. If your dog can make you laugh, then it can also help you to cope with stress at difficult times in your life.
10. Filling the Need for Touch
South Boston Animal Hospital says that an article published in Psychology Today says that touch is an important element of human psychological health. The article said that touch can reduce stress and also build trust, decrease violence, and boost the immune system. Owning a pet can fulfill this need for touch, thus reducing stress levels. This is particularly important for people who live alone and have little human contact.