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Today is National Hug Your Hound Day: How Pets Assist with Depression

Animal lovers and pet owners alike can all attest to their pets becoming their best friends. Many consider their pets part of their family and make arrangements to ensure their furry friends are happy and healthy. Research has shown that having any sort of pet in your life can significantly help reduce the feeling of loneliness and depression.

It’s National Hug Your Hound Day, so for the sake of this article, we are going to discuss the benefits of having a dog. Pups bring a certain kind of joy to anyone’s life due to their friendly nature and genuine excitement. Dogs can provide valuable companionship, and their unconditional love for their owners can add real joy to our lives. Below are some other ways dogs can assist with depression.

Increasing Exercise

One of the best ways to ease the symptoms of depression is by adopting a healthier lifestyle. Caring for a pet can help with this in many ways. The first is increasing the amount of exercise and sunshine you see every day.

Dogs need tons of exercise, and depending on the breed of pup you have, some need to be walked twice a day. Taking your puppy for a walk, a run, a hike, or even to a puppy park are great ways to fit exercise into your schedule. Doing this activity with your dog will help improve your mental and physical health, as well as give you and your furry friend a deeper connection.

Help You Meet New People

Depression is often synonymous with loneliness. While being a pet owner reduces this feeling, you may feel like you are lacking in human companionship. Taking your dog on frequent walks or play dates at the park is a great way to meet other dog owners and make friends. Pets can contribute to your social life dramatically, and it’s common to stop and speak with other pet owners when on a walk, at the dog park, or even at the pet store. Your shared bond of owning a dog can be the best icebreaker for starting a new friendship.

Add Structure to Your Everyday Routine

When taking care of any living thing, they require a strict schedule to be fed, play, and get exercise. When owning a dog, you are responsible for their sleep, eating, and exercise schedule. Having a consistent routine can not only bring balance to your dog, but also you as well. No matter the state of your mental health, you can rely on the familiarity and synergy between you and your animal’s daily routine.

Reduce Anxiety

The companionship of your dog can help ease your anxiety and boost your self-confidence. Dogs live in the present, and their happy-go-lucky way of living can sometimes rub off on their owners. Dogs are not concerned with the past or have anxiety about the future. Your pet can help you become more present and mindful, and appreciate the joys of everyday life.

Constant Companionship

Perhaps the most important benefit of owning a dog to help assist with depression is constant companionship. Dogs love so unconditionally and rely on their owners for just about everything. No matter what you’ve done, how your day has gone, or the mood you wake up in, your puppy is always glad to see you! Caring for an animal can make you feel loved and wanted, and this kind of companionship can add years to your life.

Source: Lundgren, Robinson, & Segal (2022) The Health and Mood Boosting Benefits of Pets, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm

Source: Kara Mayer Robinson (2017) How Pets Can Help Manage Depression, https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/pets-depression

Source: Carrington College (2014) How Pets Help People with Depression, https://carrington.edu/blog/pets-help-people-depression/

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