Every year, 40 million people suffer from anxiety in the U.S. It is a large problem as winter sets in and less sunlight is available in the northern part of the country. And now, with a major health concern forcing us to isolate from others, it is even more difficult to stop feeling caged in. It is always important to reach out to a certified psychologist to navigate a treatment option, but if you are receiving treatment for an anxiety disorder, your dog may also be another asset in helping to shield you from excess worry. Here, we highlight how your dog can help in the battle of stress disorders and other anxieties you may have.
Dogs and Cuddling
Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna discovered that both humans and dogs that cuddle receive an increase in oxytocin. Oxytocin is a “nine amino-acid neuropeptide” that is associated with creating bonds between family members or romantic partners. The bonds between dogs and their owners are like the bonds between mothers and children. The more quality time a person spent petting their dog, the more their oxytocin levels increased. Therefore, dogs are powerful in helping us feel like we belong in society. So, pet your dog and show them some love and the benefits will be exponential.
Get to Playing and Relieve Stress
Most furry friends enjoy playing and romping outdoors. But playing with our mutts also helps us to relieve our own stress. When we play with a pet, we reduce cortisol — our stress hormone. Dogs and humans share emotions during playtime, so it is best to interact with your dog when you are not angry or agitated. Physical exercise is great for both you and your pet. You both get to bond and have a great time.
Children’s Anxiety and Puppies
A peer-reviewed study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 12% of children with dogs were anxious compared to 21% of children without pets. Pets provide a great companion for children and cause them to deal with less loneliness in their developing years. Children in the age bracket of 7 and 8-year-olds said pets were better than adults in offering comfort to them and giving them better self-esteem. Pets also provide responsibility for children, so they grow to become more dependable teenagers in the future. Owning a pet not only enhances your life, but it also helps the life of your adorable children.
Stop Smoking for Your Dog
Quitting a habit is no easy task. It takes willpower and gallons of strength. In 2015, only 30% of smokers wanted to continue smoking. Cigarette smoking is especially difficult because of the addictive nature of nicotine. However, in 2015, a whopping 28.4% of cigarette smokers admitted that knowing that smoking could harm their pets in the future gave them an added incentive to quit.
The nicotine in tobacco smoke can be expulsed into the air and mix with other chemicals. Nicotine and nitrous acid combine in this process and cause cancer-inducing compounds. Pets either breathe in these gases or touch surfaces where tobacco is present. As dogs get older in a smoker’s house, they experience lung damage or nose cancer. Therefore, if you are looking for the mental fortitude to quit smoking, just remember the consequences smoking may have on your best friend.
Keep Your Pet Close for Your Health
After looking at all the positive effects of having a pet, I think we can all agree it is better for our mental health to have a furry buddy. A pet provides the ultimate comfort in times of stress and anxiety. Pets help us become better people as children learn responsibility and independence. No wonder 85 million families own pets in the United States! If you want to find out more about pets and your physical health, check out this blog on getting active with your best pal.