Here’s How Having A Dog Can Benefit Your Mental Health
Last updated on December 11th, 2023 at 11:26 am
They say a dog is a man’s best friend. Now researchers in Japan have evidence to back up the popular statement. They found having a dog diminishes the risk of dementia in people aged 65 and above by 40%, in comparison to those without a canine companion.
Individuals have been seen reaping the benefits regardless of the dog’s breed. But before understanding the reasons, let’s first understand dementia. It is characterised by severe memory loss and difficulties in language, problem-solving and cognitive functions.
Dementia is known to encompass a number of conditions. Alzheimer’s remains the most prevalent, accounting for 60-80% of cases, as per the US’ Alzheimer’s Association. At least 55 million people across the globe are believed to be currently suffering from dementia.
Dogs Provide The Essential Brain Exercise
The Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology conducted the study among 12,000 participants, finding dog ownership lures in increased outdoor activity, fostering more human-to-human interactions and providing the essential brain exercise.
Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, agreed stressing interaction with dogs can reduce stress, noting the routine associated with caring for a pet and the emotional support derived can positively impact one’s mental well-being.
A dog can serve as a natural mood enhancer. The active lifestyle associated with having a dog promotes better blood circulation, produces inflammation and helps with the growth and maintenance of brain cells, all of which are important for cognitive health.
Traits That Make Dogs Exceptional Animals
In essence, a dog not just provides companionship and emotional support but also opportunities for stress reduction, social interaction and increased overall happiness, all of which are considered key to psychological well-being.
There are several traits that make dogs exceptional animals, including their infectious friendliness. These furry and hypersocial creatures have been shown to form attachment bonds with human caregivers that are quite similar to those formed between children and parents.
This may partly explain why dogs can read our emotional signals and try to help us when they feel we are distressed. At the same time, most dog owners also agree that their pet brings out the best in them. They can confide in their dogs and love them unconditionally.