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Are you struggling with your mental health and wondering whether getting a dog will help? Or maybe you’re wondering if a dog can help a loved one affected by depression or anxiety? Bringing a dog into your life is a big commitment but if you are up for the challenge, studies show that dogs can be beneficial in the management of mental health symptoms and conditions. Read on to find out a few of the multiple reasons to add the love of a dog to your life.

1. They Get You Out of The House

Nothing makes a dog happier than hanging out with their people, and the feeling is pretty much mutual. You’ll want to bring your dog along on all of your adventures and the good news is that it’s easier than ever to find places to hang with your pooch. Another perk to bringing your pup out in public? It makes it easier to meet new people. Dogs are instant conversation starters and their natural appeal can help ease social anxiety. Just take some time to train your dog on proper public etiquette to avoid any issues and have fun making new friends for the both of you.

2. Caring For Them Gives You a Purpose

Living with a mental health condition can leave you feeling lost and alone. Dogs require structure, routine and care, all of which can help bring focus to your life. You’ll want to keep your dog healthy and happy, and that is a great motivator to make improvements in all areas of your life. Maybe you’ll want to work harder so you can afford a fenced in yard for your new friend? Or, you’ll want to get up and get the outside in the mornings. Having a pet can provide much-need purpose in our lives.

3. They Provide Stress-Relief

Do you have a hard time managing stress? Is it taking a toll on your mental health? Studies agree that owning a pet can provide stress relief in a variety of different ways. Petting a dog can help lower blood pressure and steady breathing and coming home to a wagging tail and smiling face is enough the melt away the strain of the toughest days. You may also find your dog’s mood rubbing off on you in a good way, as dogs tend to live in the moment, and doing so yourself can make you more mindful and help with anxiety. Dogs also help relieve the feelings of isolation that accompany depression.

4. They Can Make Life a Little Easier

For those living with mental health issues, dogs can provide more than just companionship and cuddles. Service dogs can provide a great deal of daily assistance to their owners, from providing mobility support to easing the effects of PTSD. Depending on your condition, a service dog may be able to help you as well, but check with your health care provider to see if you’re a good candidate for this assistance. If you do qualify for a service dog, be aware of laws protecting you and your animal. If you don’t qualify, and decide to get a dog anyhow, know the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. Abuse of service animal laws can have negative consequences for you, your dog, and those who do require the support of an animal.

5. Walking Them is Great Exercise

Getting out for a walk is a great way to help your dog burn energy and can be excellent exercise for you as well. You’ll likely walk a little faster with your dog than you would alone and your dog will certainly motivate you to get out a little every day. Want to reap even more benefits from these fun walks? Consider becoming a dog walker. You can earn extra income doing something you love and something that is good for your health. Bonus: You’ll have an opportunity to help other pet owners and meet as many friendly pups as possible.

Adding a dog to your life is a big decision that comes with a lifetime of responsibilities. If you or someone you love is dealing with the symptoms of depression, anxiety or other conditions, the benefits of pet ownership can far outweigh any of the challenges. With some thought, and the tips in this article, you can figure out whether getting a dog is the right decision for you.

Brandon is a dog lover and vet tech. He loves helping pet owners by sharing advice on

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