If you own a dog, you probably already know anecdotally that dogs help alleviate stress. Having someone in the home that loves you unconditionally and is excited every time you get home is sure to boost your mood. The levels of affection that you receive from your dog can have a significant effect on your stress levels.
Spending more time connecting with your dog can help you feel more relaxed. But until recently, there was no science to back up what so many people already felt. Now, scientists are finding that dogs can have a notable positive effect on human’s mental health. Here are some of the ways dogs help alleviate stress.
What Is Stress?
We all hear about stress all the time, but what is it really, and how do scientists measure it? Stress is your body’s reaction to changes or issues that require you to respond and adjust. When a person is stressed, their body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is necessary for survival and a number of bodily functions.
The presence of cortisol in your body is perfectly healthy, but when cortisol levels are elevated due to stress, it also raises a person’s blood pressure. These two bodily reactions can put you at risk for health complications. That is why you want to try and reduce stress.
The Science Behind Dogs Alleviating Stress
There is a somewhat complicated relationship between how your dog can help alleviate stress. There are a number of psychosocial and psychophysiological factors at play when analyzing this relationship. Thankfully, research has started to focus on mapping out that relationship.
The Role of Oxytocin
When interacting with your dog, your body undergoes physiological changes for the better. Connecting with your pup can activate your oxytocin system. Oxytocin is a hormone in your body that plays a key role in social bonding.
By interacting with your dog and activating your oxytocin system, you reap the benefits of higher levels of oxytocin. In fact, having more oxytocin in your body has been found to have a positive effect on stress-related parameters. These parameters, like improved levels of the hormone norepinephrine, can help reduce the physical stress that you feel.
This goes to show that having positive interactions with your dog can alleviate stress at a clinically measurable level. Give your dog a good pat on the head or a belly rub today to raise your oxytocin levels.
Increased blood pressure levels are another physiological response to stress. But having your dog around can actually improve your blood pressure levels. One study found that petting a dog is associated with lower blood pressure readings. If you some help alleviating stress, you can try calling your pup over for a much-loved belly rub.
When you are stressed, you are likely to experience temporary increases in your breathing and heart rate. By interacting with your dog, you can reduce your heart rate. Studies have found that connecting with a pet secures a calming effect in humans. An interaction as simple as a head pat can help alleviate your stress.
How Dogs Help with Stress
There are a number of different ways that dogs can help with stress. Not only does interacting with dogs create a physiological difference when it comes to alleviating stress, but owning a dog can also make some lifestyle changes. Here are some of the ways dogs can change your lifestyle for the better to alleviate stress.
Get Out and Exercise
Having a dog can have a positive impact on your life on the exercise front. Studies have found that dog owners tend to get more exercise than people without pets. This plays a role in alleviating stress because increased levels of exercise and activity have been associated with reduced stress levels.
Getting some much needed and routine physical activity can help make you more resilient when it comes to dealing with stress. One study found that regular exercise is related to guarding against the negative emotional outcomes of stress. Owning a dog is a great inspiration and motivation for getting some regular exercise in by way of walks.
Socializing with Fido
Owning a dog can help provide you with a sense of security and routine. More than that, dogs provide you with social and emotional support. Having the emotional and social support of your furry friend can do a long way in helping alleviate current and preventing future stress.
Dogs are also an excellent channel for meeting other people. In fact, one study found that dogs are conducive to getting to know people and building a social network. Creating a larger social support system has been shown to improve stress levels.
Owning a dog can force your hand in creating a routine and structured day. Having another being like your dog depend on you, means that you need to be able to provide regular care. This added level of responsibility can make you build structure into your daily life.
Having a structured day will help you make the most of each minute. Planning your day out will help you be more productive and balanced throughout the day, meaning you will not have to worry about cramming everything into a short period of time. By adding a level of structure to your life, dog’s can help alleviate stress.
Apart from alleviating stress, dogs have been shown to have a number of positive effects on a person’s mental health. Just spending time with animals can have a positive effect on a person’s mood. By owning and interacting with a dog each day, you can help yourself in the long run due to the stress-relieving effects.
But what happens when your little stress reliever is stressed himself? Having a stressed-out pup is never fun, but thankfully there are easy solutions to a stressed-out dog. One solution is to try out CBD dog treats. These tasty treats have been shown to reduce stress with no side effects. Try giving your pup some CBD treats today.
This article is originally published at FOMO Bones.