How Can Dogs Help Fight Mental Diseases?

BY | March 23 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY

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Dogs are such adorable creatures. They are loyal, friendly, helpful, playful, and mischievous. They keep us active and in touch with our childish glee and wonder. They come with numerous different perks. One of those very valuable perks is their ability to help fight mental illness. People suffering from mental disorders like PTSD and children who have autism feel significantly better with a therapy dog close to them. These adorable pooches give them all the support and strength they need by just being present.Itโ€™s understandable if you feel so tired that you canโ€™t even find the strength to get out of bed sometimes. When youโ€™re suffering from a mental disorder, you barely have energy. Thatโ€™s where dogs can help. Dogs are naturally happy creatures. It doesnโ€™t take much to keep them happy and their happiness is contagious. Their positive energy can help you get back on your feet and start enjoying life to an extent while coping with your disorder. Here are some of the many benefits of having a therapy dog.

  1. ExerciseDogs are really active creatures. All they want to do is run around and play all day. They are mischievous and full of energy. Thatโ€™s why dogs can help you get back on your feet and lead a healthy, active lifestyle. When youโ€™re responsible for the health and wellness of another living being, it will rub off on you. Youโ€™ll find yourself doing exercises with your doggo. Exercise has the ability to increase endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that can fight depression. Dogs love routines and crave consistency. This means that youโ€™ll have to take your dog out for a walk or engage in some strenuous activity at least once in a day.
  2. Self-worthResponsibility for someone or something else can considerably improve the state of your mental health. When you take ownership of something or apply your skills to a specific task, your mental health will start showing improvement. If you can take care of someone other than yourself, it will give you enough confidence to start taking care of yourself.
  3. SocializationWhen you take your dog for a walk, chances are, youโ€™ll run into other dog walkers. This requires you to communicate and socialize. Socializing with other people can give you some sort of relief form a depressive episode. Having someone to talk to can also help you lighten the load on your shoulders. It prevents your mental condition from worsening. Service dogs are especially helpful in this case because theyโ€™re always aware of your needs and are always there to give you support when you need it the most. Caring for a dog will give you purpose and make you want to focus on something other than your condition.

Is There a Connection Between Your Petโ€™s Sickness and Your Anxiety?

An unhealthy or sick pet is enough to make us feel anxious. We all love our pets so dearly that when something happens to them, we automatically go into guardian mode. Sometimes, the things we do wonโ€™t be able to help them recover and this leads to a feeling of helplessness that worsens our mental health. By now, you probably treat your pets as part of your own family. Similar to when a family member gets sick, all you want to do is spend time with them and make sure they get better quickly.While taking care of a pet can do wonders for your physical and mental health, the close bond you share with your cat or dog can also impact your mental health in a negative way should your pet suddenly fall sick. A recent study shows that caring for sick pet can increase your susceptibility to depression, anxiety, and other mental conditions.Caring for a sick or unhealthy animal can lead to a number of physical and emotional health problems. These problems are collectively called caregiver burden, because thatโ€™s where it spurred from.

The study

The researchers from Stow Kent Animal Hospital, Kent State University, and the Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital situated in Akron, Ohio did a study involving 238 pet owners. Half of these participants cared for healthy pets while the other half cared for sick and unwell pets.The researchers then used different testing scales and questionnaires to measure the individualโ€™s stress levels, caregiver burden, overall quality of life, and susceptibility to depression or anxiety.After collecting and analyzing all the different results, the researchers found that the participants that cared for a sick pet had increased levels of stress, depression, and caregiver burden as compared to the participants who were caring for healthy pets.When you see your pet as part of your family, taking care of them becomes time consuming and something of a burden. Whereas, when you come home to a healthy and happy pet, it uplifts your mood and alleviates some of the stress that you picked up during the day. When you come home to a sick pet, you have no time to relax and unwind from your stressful day. You have to switch right into caretaker mode and look after your pet. Youโ€™re unsure about when and how your pet will get better so that adds to your burden, making it even more difficult to bare.

What you need to remember when caring for a sick pet

The sickness is usually temporary and will be resolved. Take your pet to the vet and follow all of his instructions carefully. No matter the sickness, be patient, the healing period takes time.

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