How Having a Puppy Can Elevate Your Mood & Health

benefits of owning a dog

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you already know how much fun and affection they have to offer. But did you know that pets also come with some pretty powerful mental and physical health benefits?  Dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as ease loneliness and increase your daily exercise and […]

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you already know how much fun and affection they have to offer. But did you know that pets also come with some pretty powerful mental and physical health benefits? 

Dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as ease loneliness and increase your daily exercise and playfulness. Having a dog can even improve your cardiovascular health. 

For children, caring for a dog can help them mature since managing the responsibilities of having a dog requires commitment and selflessness. 

Perhaps most importantly, though, a dog can add real joy and unconditional love to your life and to the life of your family.

Can having a puppy help people cope with depression, anxiety, and stress?

Yes! More than any other animal, puppies who of course grow up to be dogs have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans, especially our behaviors and emotions. While dogs are able to understand many of the words we use, they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. And like any good friend to humans, a loyal dog will constantly try to gauge your emotional state in order to understand what you’re thinking and feeling.

While most dog owners readily boast about the joys that come with having a furry sidekick, many remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that you can experience when you play with or snuggle up to a puppy dog. There are mental, emotional, and social health benefits to bringing home a loving puppy. 

Yet only recently have researchers begun to conduct real studies to scientifically explore the measurable benefits of the human-dog bond. Most notably, the American Heart Association has linked pet, and especially dog, ownership with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.

Research has established that:

  • Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. 
  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months! 
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax you. 
  • Pet owners have lower levels of indicators of heart disease called triglyceride and cholesterol than those without pets. 
  • Heart attack survivors with dogs live longer post-heart attack than those without. 
  • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.

One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that dogs fulfill the basic human need for touch. Stroking, hugging, or otherwise petting a loving puppy can rapidly calm and soothe us when we feel stressed out or anxious. The companionship of a dog can also ease loneliness, and most dogs cause their owners to get healthy daily exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and ease depression.

Dogs can help you make healthy lifestyle changes. Adopting healthy lifestyle changes plays an important role in easing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and even PTSD.

Caring for a dog can help you:

Increase Exercise 

Taking a dog for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to include daily exercise into your schedule. Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements. Exercising every day is great for the dog, as well. It will deepen the connection between you, eradicate most behavior problems in dogs, and keep your pet fit and healthy. 

Provide Companionship 

Companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. Caring for a living animal can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. Most dog owners talk to their dogs, some even use them to work through their troubles. And nothing beats loneliness like coming home to a wagging tail and wet kisses. 

Help You Meet New People 

Dogs can be great at helping their owners meet new people and make neighborhood acquaintances. Dog owners have even reported that their dogs have helped them make lasting friendships with people they might never have stopped to talk to had it not been for their dogs! This is because dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks, hikes, or in a dog park. Dog owners also meet new people in pet stores, puppy training classes, and at dog-friendly businesses. 

Reduce Anxiety 

The companionship of a dog can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world. Because dogs live in the moment—they don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow—they can help you become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present. 

Add Structure & Routine to Your Day 

Dogs require a regular feeding and exercise schedule. Having a consistent routine keeps a dog balanced and calm—and it can work for you, too. No matter your mood—depressed, anxious, or stressed—one expectant look from your dog and you’ll have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for your pet. 

Provide Sensory Stress Relief 

Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress. Stroking a dog lowers blood pressure and can help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed.

Numerous studies have linked dog ownership to weight loss: 

  • One year-long study found that walking an overweight dog helped both the animals and their owners lose weight. Researchers found that the dogs provided support in similar ways to a human exercise buddy, but with greater consistency and without any negative influence. 
  • Public housing residents who walked therapy dogs for up to 20 minutes five days a week lost an average of 14 pounds in a year, without changing their diets. 
  • A third study found that people who got a dog walked 30 minutes more a week than they did before.

Owner a dog brings health benefits to older adults:

As well as providing vital companionship, owning a dog can play an important role in healthy aging by: 

Helping You Find Meaning & Joy In Life 

As you age, you’ll lose things that previously occupied your time and gave your life purpose. You may retire from your career or your children may move far away. Caring for a dog can bring pleasure and help boost your morale, optimism, and sense of self-worth. 

Staying Connected 

Maintaining a social network isn’t always easy as you grow older. Retirement, illness, death, and relocation can take away close friends and family members. And making new friends can get harder. Dogs are a great way for older adults to spark up conversations and meet new people. 

Boosting Vitality 

You can overcome many of the physical challenges associated with aging by taking good care of yourself. Dogs encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy.

Are you ready to elevate your mood and improve your health by adding an adorable puppy to your life? If so, check out the available puppies at Petland Texas, or stop by one of our Texas locations to meet your new furry friend!