Pet Therapy: Is Your Dog Good for Your Mental Health?

 

It has been proven time and time again that pets are good for your health

By Guest Blogger, Marie Miguel

There has to be a reason that over 80 million people have dogs as pets. It has been proven time and time again that pets are good for your health. Not only do they make you feel loved and needed, but they can also lower your blood pressure and increase your feel-good hormones like oxytocin and serotonin. In fact, in a survey done by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 75% of dog owners report that they or a family member have noticed an improvement in mental and/or physical health since they got their dog.

Psychological Effects of Dog Therapy

The psychological effects of pet therapy have been studied for several decades now and all of the studies have shown that having a pet is beneficial to your mental health. Although it is still being studied, the results are promising and show that you can certainly benefit from having a pet, especially a dog. If you want to know more about pet therapy, click here to contact BetterHelp.com, who has also done some research on this subject.

What Can Pet Therapy Help You With?

The first thing to know is that having a dog just makes you feel happier because you feel loved and needed. But if you are unable to take care of a dog and just want an animal to make you happy, that is not a good reason to get a pet. Taking care of any kind of animal is a big responsibility so if you are barely able to take care of yourself, taking care of a pet is not for you. In this case, there are therapy dog organizations who can bring you a pet on a regular basis just to visit so you can get the benefits of that dog love without having to take on all the responsibilities of feeding, walking, training, and taking them to the veterinarian. Here are some of the illnesses that pet therapy can help with:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Dementia
  • Panic Attacks
  • Autism
  • Phobias/Fears
  • Substance abuse
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Abuse

Physical Benefits

Some of the physical benefits include decreasing blood pressure, lowering heart rate, relieving stress, improving motor functions, and helping to improve attention span. Those who suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease have been known to have a huge decrease in blood pressure just from petting a dog. There have been many studies that prove this to be true and this is why there are now so many animal-assisted therapy programs including comfort dogs, therapeutic pets, Resources for the Study of the Human-Animal Bond, and Therapy Dogs International.

Not Just Dogs

Oh, and by the way, it is not just dogs who are good for you. The organization, Cats Protection, did a study in 2011 which involved more than 600 cat- and non-cat-owning individuals, with half of them describing themselves as currently having a mental condition. The study found that 87% of these individuals who owned a feline felt that it had a positive impact on them, and 76% of them said they could deal with life’s everyday ups and downs much better because of their feline friends.

about the author

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

 

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