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How Your Dog Can Make a Difference to Your Mental Health

17th May
The focus of this Mental Health Awareness week is anxiety. Everyone can feel anxious sometimes, as anxiety is a natural response to the uncertain and changing world around us. For many people, the bond that is created with your four-legged friend has been a lifeline that has supported many of us through challenging times, especially in the last few years. 

Disclaimer: talks of mental health, anxiety and depression which can be triggering 

It is important to recognise when we feel anxious and find ways to deal with it, so we have been exploring the benefits of how man’s best friend can have a significant impact on your mental health and anxiety.

women cuddling white dog in the sunset - how your dog can make a difference


How owning a dog can make a difference to your mental health 

Reducing Stress 

Some studies have shown that stroking your pet can lower your blood pressure and your heart rate, which helps with your health and reduces your stress levels. Having a dog can also help your body release dopamine and serotonin, the happy hormones, which relieve your stress hormones and help with creating a feeling of calm. 

2 women and 1 man in workout clothes crouched down stroking white dog

Improving Physical Health 

Dogs need regular exercise to maintain a healthy life, going out for regular walks will not only keep your dog healthy but also keep you healthy. Daily walks outside boost physical well-being, and it is proven that being outside in nature really benefits anxiety.

Check out our blog Control of Your Dog on a Walk for advice on the best practices for walking your pup.

Helping with Feelings of Loneliness 

When you suffer with poor mental health, there can be a decline in socialising, and it is often met with feelings of loneliness. Taking your dog for a walk is a great way to make conversation, as having a love of dogs can provide a common ground which you may not have previously had – helping reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Having your dog by your side will also help you to feel more confident. 

women with curly brown hair lying on bed reading a book with white dog lying with her

Creating Routine and Purpose 

Looking after a dog is a big responsibility, they rely on you for their food, exercise and love – being responsible can have a positive effect on your wellbeing. Having a set routine can give you focus and can give you clarity on otherwise uncertain feelings. Your dog can give you a reason to get up, put one foot in front of the other and having them by your side will encourage good behaviours and habits. 

Did you know there are plenty of benefits for your dog too? 

Being in a happy home will ensure you have a happy pooch. Keeping your dog stimulated through exercise and play will stop them from feeling bored, making them feel happy and loved. Dogs also crave routine which will make them feel secure and safe in their environment. 

It is so important to give your pup a healthy and happy life and in return they will offer you, love, companionship, fun and a feeling of routine and purpose. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

If you’re struggling and need some support or advice, there are some brilliant platforms available. Check out our top 3 below.

  • MIND – They’re fighting for mental health. For support. For respect. For you.
  • MANUP? – They’re changing people’s opinions on men and mental health.
  • NHS – They offer different options for treatment and advice.

Check out our socials for more about what we do at Wild at Heart Foundation.

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