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How do dogs help with mental health?

Last Updated on June 4, 2023

The positive effects of dog ownership on mental health are numerous, with potential benefits for many mental health conditions, including anxiety depression, PTSD, and more. Spending time with a dog can help to reduce stress and anxiety in several ways. Dogs can also help to distract people from their worries and provide a sense of companionship.

Mental health and physical health are intertwined. Research shows that poor mental health can contribute to various physical problems, such as chronic conditions, weakened immune systems, and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Conversely, taking care of our mental health positively impacts our physical well-being, enhancing overall resilience and vitality. 

This blog will discuss ‘How do dogs help with mental health?’ and why they are essential for our mental health. 

Listen to this article below. 

How do Dogs Help with Mental Health? 

 The therapeutic benefits of dog ownership extend beyond emotional support. Dogs encourage physical activity, routine, and responsibility, contributing to overall mental health. They foster social connections, break down barriers, and offer opportunities for engagement, especially for individuals struggling with social anxiety or feelings of isolation.

The ways dogs help with your mental health are both chemical and practical. The oxytocin released from your body is purely chemical, and your love for them is practical. But suppose we put these things aside and get to the point of how dogs help with mental health; in that case, the following are the things you should know about-  

  • The Science of Stress Reduction-

    Stress has become increasingly prevalent in modern society, leading to adverse effects on mental health. However, research has shown that dogs play a significant role in reducing stress levels. Interacting with dogs releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with bonding and relaxation, while also lowering cortisol, a stress hormone. This hormonal response helps to calm the nervous system and alleviate stress.

Moreover, the companionship and routine of owning a dog can provide structure and stability, contributing to stress reduction. Dogs require exercise and outdoor activities, which encourage owners to engage in physical activity, a natural stress reliever.

  • The Science of Anxiety Reduction-

    Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, anxiety bipolar disorder and panic disorder, can significantly impact one’s mental health and overall well-being. Fortunately, dogs are effective in reducing anxiety symptoms.

The presence of a dog can offer emotional support, providing a calming influence during times of anxiety. Dogs are intuitive creatures and can sense when their owners are distressed or anxious, often responding with comforting behaviors such as leaning against their owner or offering gentle physical contact.


Emotional support animals, including emotional support dogs, have been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as valuable adjunctive therapy for individuals with anxiety disorders. These animals provide companionship and security, alleviating loneliness and fear.

Research has shown that the presence of dogs can decrease anxiety symptoms, improve mood, and increase social interaction. Canine companions and therapy dogs have been incorporated into various mental health treatments, including those for anxiety disorders, with positive outcomes reported by many individuals.

In conclusion, the science behind stress and anxiety reduction supports dogs’ significant role in promoting mental health. From offering emotional support and companionship to reducing blood pressure and providing specialized assistance, dogs have proven valuable allies in managing mental health conditions related to anxiety depression and stress.

how do dogs help with mental health?

How Dogs Boost Moods? 

Dogs have an incredible ability to boost moods and contribute to overall mental well-being. Understanding how dogs positively impact our emotions is essential in recognizing their role in supporting mental health.

Research has shown that interacting with dogs increases the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, which are associated with happiness, pleasure, and bonding. Simply spending time with a dog, whether through petting, cuddling, or playing, can elevate mood and create a sense of joy and contentment.

The unconditional love and companionship dogs offer also play a significant role in boosting moods. Dogs are non-judgmental and provide constant emotional support. They are attuned to their owners’ emotions and can sense when they are feeling down or upset, often offering comfort and a listening ear, which can be incredibly uplifting.

The physical presence of dogs also has a calming effect on the nervous system, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Petting a dog has been found to lower blood pressure and heart rate, leading to a relaxation response in the body.

A few things to Consider-

If you’re considering dog ownership as a means to enhance your mental health, it’s essential to consider a few recommendations:

  1. Assess your readiness: Owning a dog is a long-term commitment that requires time, effort, and resources. Ensure you are ready for the responsibilities and lifestyle adjustments of caring for a pet.
  2. Choose the right breed: Different dog breeds have varying energy levels, temperaments, and care needs. Research and select a breed that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.
  3. Consider adoption: Many loving and deserving dogs await homes in shelters and rescue organizations. Adoption gives a dog a second chance and can be a deeply rewarding experience for the owner.
  4. Proper care and training: Ensuring you provide your dog with proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care. Training and socialization are crucial for a well-behaved and balanced companion.
  5. Seek professional help if needed: While dogs can offer significant support, they are not a substitute for professional mental health treatment. If you are experiencing severe or persistent mental health issues, consult a qualified healthcare professional for appropriate guidance.

Happy dog, happy human


Good mental health is essential for leading a fulfilling and satisfying life. It enables us to cope with daily stresses and challenges, maintain positive relationships, and enjoy a sense of purpose and meaning. When our mental health is balanced, we are better equipped to handle setbacks, experience joy, and navigate life’s ups and downs. 

In conclusion, the profound impact of dogs on mental health is supported by scientific research and recognized by reputable organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association. Through programs like Canine Companions Therapy Dogs and the endorsement of reputable sources like the Cleveland Clinic News Service, the therapeutic benefits of dogs are being acknowledged and utilized in mental health support.

With their unwavering companionship, dogs provide emotional support that can alleviate symptoms of anxiety depression, and other mental health conditions. They offer a sense of comfort, unconditional love, and a non-judgmental presence that can significantly improve well-being.

Moreover, the presence of therapy dogs in settings like hospitals and rehabilitation centers has been proven to reduce stress, increase social interaction, and enhance overall mood. Canine Companions Therapy Dogs exemplify these specially trained animals’ positive impact on individuals struggling with mental health challenges.

As the American Psychiatric Association was founded to advance mental health treatment and support, their recognition of the therapeutic value of dogs speaks volumes. In a world where mental health issues are increasingly prevalent, embracing dogs’ positive influence is empowering and transformative. Their role as emotional support animals offer a holistic approach to mental health, complementing traditional therapies and treatment options.

Incorporating dogs into mental health strategies can be a game-changer, promoting emotional well-being, reducing stress, and enhancing overall quality of life. The recognition and utilization of dogs as mental health allies is a testament to the profound and lasting impact they can have on our mental and emotional well-being.


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