6 Ways Dogs Help Ease Depression Symptoms

training-lab-puppiesMy husband and I had to put down our Labrator-Chow mix this morning. He did exactly what his sister did nine months ago: went out to our backyard on a cold and rainy night and just stood there, with his tail down, and wouldn’t come back in. It’s as if they both knew it was their time and wanted to die in peace. He was almost 15 years old, so we knew it was coming, but you’re never really ready for that feeling of emptiness or hollowness you feel when they leave your life. Only then do you realize how much they gave to you.

Dogs, of course, are good for depression. Both of my dogs have helped me with my moods more than I thought was capable of things that don’t speak English. In loving memory of Sonny and his sister Sara (who we lost nine months ago) here are just six ways dogs improve our mental health.

1. Dogs offer unconditional love and acceptance.

As far as we know, dogs are without opinions, critiques, and verdicts. Even if you smell like their poop, they will snuggle up next to you. In a Johns Hopkins Depression & Anxiety Bulletin, Karen Swartz, M.D. mentions a recent study where nursing home residents in St. Louis felt less lonely with some quiet time with a dog alone than a visit with both a dog and other residents.

The study enrolled 37 nursing home residents who scored high on a loneliness scale and who were interested in receiving weekly half-hour visits from dogs. Half of the residents had quiet time alone with the pooches. The other half shared the dog with other nursing home residents. Both groups said they felt less lonely after the visit, but the decrease in loneliness was much more significant among the residents that had the dogs all to themselves. In other words, at times we prefer our four-legged friends to our mouthy pals because we can divulge our innermost thoughts and not be judged.

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4 thoughts on “6 Ways Dogs Help Ease Depression Symptoms

  1. So sorry to hear the news about Sonny and Sara T. Run free at Rainbow Bridge you excellent dawgies xx

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    Author unknown…

  2. EVERY TIME I READ ABOUT THE RAINBOW BRIDGE, I CRY.
    I HOPE AND PRAY THAT THIS BRIDGE, OR A PLACE SIMILAR TO IT, REALLY EXISTS…..
    BECAUSE I CAN’T IMAGINE A HEAVEN WITHOUT MY PRECIOUS DOGS AND CATS.
    I CAN’T IMAGINE EVER BEING HAPPY WITHOUT THEM, AND JESUS PROMISES THAT IN HEAVEN THERE WILL BE NO PAIN…. NO SORROW….
    THAT EACH OF US WILL BE A “WHOLE” PERSON, HAPPY AND WITHOUT TEARS.
    SO I’M BELIEVING YOU, JESUS, FOR MY ANIMALS…. THAT EACH PRECIOUS LITTLE FUR BODY WILL BE WAITING FOR ME…. AND WE’LL NEVER EVER BE APART AGAIN.

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