Can Dogs Help With Depression?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression is a condition that affects about 40 million adults nationwide. Thankfully, there are many avenues that can bring relief. The right medication, combined with therapy is a great place to begin. Eating right and getting plenty of exercise will help. Spending time with loved ones, including your pets plays an integral part in your healing.

The Effects of Dogs on People

Having a dog can contribute to your overall happiness. Research suggests when you have a dog, your stress levels aren’t as high, you don’t get as anxious or depressed and you don’t feel as lonely. As a bonus, your general health may improve as you may be getting more exercise than you were before.

It has been proven that when humans play with dogs, the oxytocin and dopamine levels in our bodies naturally elevate. Here are some more ways that a dog might lift its owner out of a depressed fog.

Dogs Encourage Exercise

Dogs need exercise in order to remain healthy, and you will be right by their side. Take advantage of those natural endorphins that begin to flow when you take walks with your dog. Consistently taking walks out in nature is sure to brighten you and your dog’s day. 

Dogs Like to Be Social

Dogs are great topics of conversation. If you are feeling lonely and wish you had someone to talk to, load up your dog and head out to the dog park. Your dog will get to know their dog, and you can chat with its owner if you feel like it. This may be just the right kind of social interaction that you needed to make you feel better.

Dogs Need to Be Cared For

Having something to be responsible for can help your mental health. You build up your sense of self-worth when you care for an animal that couldn’t otherwise take care of itself.

Dogs Give a Sense of Calm

When you pet a dog, you begin to feel relaxed, and your mood may improve. Studies have shown that even petting a dog for a brief amount of time may ease fear and anxiety.


Dogs add so much to our daily lives. It should be no wonder that their very presence has the ability to brighten up the dark times.


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