Here's how owning a dog can seriously improve your health

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Dogs are happy, energetic animals who can lift your mood considerably, and a recent study shows, their company really is beneficial to our health and well-being.

To help pet owners across the nation understand the true mental health benefits of owning a four-legged friend and how they can elevate your feel-good factor, Dr Ciara Clarke, in-house Vet from Butternut Box, shares her expert insights.

Improve mobility and physical activity.

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Dogs need exercise just as much as their owners do, but we humans can often neglect our own health and the need to move. When you spend time outdoors, it can improve mood, reduce stress and count towards your daily step count, making it a valuable form of exercise.

Dogs are active animals and need to exercise regularly – the recommended guidance is 30 minutes of exercise outside per day, although this will alter slightly depending on the size or breed of dog, as some will need more.

This is a great excuse to get out of the house and start moving, meaning your pet pooch is not only keeping active, but you are too.

Provide companions for life.

Owning a dog means you will always have company, be sociable and feel safe in your home, particularly if you live alone. Barks and pattering paws are an instant reminder that you are not alone.

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Whether you’re going through a breakup or have experienced the loss of a family member, dogs are there to help support you through challenging times. Being around dogs or even pets in general can also lower the stress hormone, cortisol, which helps to reduce feelings of anxiety and can boost your mental health.

Reduce mental health issues.

Dogs are a great source of comfort and motivation, often helping us to live healthier lives without even realising it, as their wagging tails and furry faces brighten up each day.

They can also boost your self-confidence. Typically, when people suffer from low self-esteem, positive affirmations can work to lift their spirits.

Dogs always offer unconditional love to their owners, with support and loyalty. They are great listeners too, allowing you to vent in peace after a hard day.

Improve your social skills.

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When you first get a dog and begin to train them at home, the Google searches begin with lots of ‘puppy training classes near me’ and ‘dog Facebook groups’, as most people seek advice and expertise from other owners.

Booking your pet on to a dog training class not only gives them a chance to socialise and meet other four-legged friends, but you get to socialise too.

Socialising is important for us all and by creating conversations and discussing favourite interests and pup facts – there are sure to be friendships formed.

Not only that, but trips to your local park will become a bigger social event after getting a furry companion as you chat with other dog walkers and share your training tips and techniques.

Benefits of owning a pet:

Add structure to your life.

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Dogs thrive and are generally better behaved when they have structure to their day. For example, a set feeding time in the morning and evening each day is one of the first steps towards a routine.

It’s important to know that by applying the dog’s routine into your life, it benefits you as well. Creating good routines for yourself and those around you allows you to be more organised, which in turn can boost your mood as you feel more accomplished once tasks are completed.

So, there are five ways that dogs can help to boost your mental health and benefit your lifestyle as you provide what they need to live healthily and happily too.

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