How much do dogs relieve stress? What to Know

Your co-worker at home helps you have a happier, healthier mind.

Millions of people around the world love their pets — theyre part of the family! We enjoy their companionship and going for walks, playing with them and even talking and singing to them.

Evidence suggests that attachment to pets is good for human health and even helps build a better community.

Its no secret that pets can contribute to your happiness. Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety and depression; ease loneliness; encourage exercise and improve your overall health. For example, people with dogs tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease. Just playing with a dog has been shown to raise levels of the feel-good brain chemicals oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their pet.

Pets can be especially helpful as we grow older. In a survey on healthy aging, adults over 50 reported these top 3 benefits:

  • Less stress
  • Better sense of purpose
  • More social connection
  • The benefits of pets for older adults

    As well as providing vital companionship, owning a pet can play an important role in healthy aging by helping you to:

    Find meaning and joy in life. As you age, you’ll lose things that previously occupied your time and gave your life purpose. You may retire from your career or your children may move far away. Caring for a pet can bring pleasure and help boost your morale, optimism, and sense of self-worth. Choosing to adopt a pet from a shelter, especially an older pet, can add to your sense of fulfillment, knowing that you’ve provided a home to a pet that may otherwise have been euthanized.

    Stay connected. Maintaining a social network isn’t always easy as you grow older. Retirement, illness, death, and relocation can take away close friends and family members. And making new friends can get harder. Pets, especially dogs, are a great way for older adults to spark up conversations and meet new people.

    Boost your vitality. You can overcome many of the physical challenges associated with aging by taking good care of yourself. Dogs, cats, and other pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy.

    Harvard report: Dogs reduce stress

    These are stressful times and if you’re like most people, you are feeling the impact of stress in your work and your life. From the pandemic and world issues to weather crisises and work issues, we’re feeling the pressure.

    People are struggling. A new study from the American Psychological Association found 84% of adults reported feeling the effects of prolonged stress including 47% who experienced anxiety, 44% who experienced sadness and 39% who experienced anger. And 67% of adults said they felt overwhelmed by the number of issues they were facing.

    But reducing your stress and creating the conditions for greater happiness—in work and in life—may come from an unlikely source: your dog. You always knew it was great to spend time with your pooch, but he may have a greater impact than you thought—and you can increase the ways your dog helps you.