There’s no doubt that our dogs bring us joy in our everyday lives, but did you know that the health benefits of having a furry pal have been scientifically proven? This National Stress Awareness Day, we explore how our dogs can reduce stress and speak to three HiLife friends about their experiences.
The science behind snuggles
A cuddle on the sofa after a long day or the comforting sight of a wagging tail — these are just a few of the ways our dogs warm our hearts. But amid our smiling and cooing, our bodies and minds take advantage of the mood-boosting powers that accompany the bonds we have with our dogs.
According to a study by Washington State University, just 10 minutes of interaction with our dogs or cats produces a significant reduction in our cortisol levels — a major stress hormone. What’s more, it’s been discovered that being with our dogs releases oxytocin, adrenaline and serotonin, which all produce feel-good chemicals.
Even without these magic chemicals, our pups improve our physical and mental health in many other ways too. Firstly, the sense of companionship we get from our dogs is unlike no other; so, no matter how upset or anxious we are, they’ll always be there to cheer us up. Secondly, dogs require regular feeding and walks, which inadvertently adds structure and routine to our day. Plus, the exercise we get from regular walks is the paw-fect mood booster!
“There’s nothing his golden smile can’t fix!”
@dailydoseofdexter on Instagram
Owner Lois says: “Dexter has helped me through many stressful times over the years. Having always suffered with anxiety, I’ve found dogs to be the ultimate distraction. So much so, my career has been based around them. Whenever I’m stressed, it’s nothing a long walk with Dexter can’t ease. Exploring new places, and even practising some of his best tricks in the garden, can take my mind off things.
“Dexter has been the ultimate distraction during the COVID-19 lockdown. Our daily allotted exercise is easily the best part of our day — allowing us to step away from the news, leave the house, enjoy the fresh air and forget our worries. There’s nothing his golden smile can’t fix!”
“She helps lift my mood.”
@everyonelovesevie on Instagram
Owner Charissa says: “Having Evie definitely helps reduce my anxiety, and she helps lift my mood. I’m lucky that she loves a cuddle and a kiss when things get a bit too much — it’s nice just to steal away a few moments and have a cuddle with her. She also ensures that no matter how I’m feeling, I get up and go out for a walk and get some fresh air, as that always makes me feel better. What makes it even better is knowing that being outdoors makes Evie happy too!
“I can’t imagine life without a dog as they can honestly just bring so much happiness and companionship to your life. I’d be lost without Evie; she’s easily one of the best things about my days. Even more so now, working through the Coronavirus pandemic — getting home to see her excited to see me and desperate for a cuddle, it’s easy to leave my troubles behind.”
“Dogs are so much more than a pet; they become part of your life.”
@mini_otis_ on Instagram
Owner Abbie says: “For a few years, I’ve suffered with anxiety, which changed my life dramatically. I didn’t have the confidence I needed for job interviews, and I made excuses about why I couldn’t see my friends or go to events. At the age of 18, I moved out and started a new life with my partner but immediately we knew something was missing. A few days later, we got Otis, a red Smooth Haired Dachshund, which gave us so much joy. Otis was a very scared puppy with separation anxiety, so I took him to classes to help him, which also ended up helping me and taking me out of my comfort zone.
“In 2019, we got Archie, a black and tan Long Haired Dachshund. Archie has helped bring fun and confidence out of Otis, which is lovely. We now attend a Dachshund dog-walking group, where we meet up once a month for a big walk. Dogs are so much more than a pet; they become part of your life.”
With thanks to HiLife friends Lois, Charissa, and Abbie for contributing to this blog! We’d love to hear how your furry bestie has helped you through ‘ruff’ times — head over to our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages to join the conversation!