Your Health

Woman hugging her dog

National Dog Day: Celebrating How Our Canine Companions Help Us Cope

National Dog Day (Aug. 26) is the perfect time to acknowledge how much joy dogs can bring. They’re also hugely beneficial to mental and physical health. Research shows that dogs can lower blood pressureand are helpful for those with anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses. And of course, they make great companions. 

Dogs are a great way to motivate you to get outside and exerciseStaying active and getting out into the sunshine and fresh air are two of the most important things you can do right now to support your mental health and well-being. If you’re depressed or anxious, however, it’s not always easy to follow through. That’s where a dog can help. 

Benefits of having a dog

During the coronavirus pandemic, these benefits are more important than ever—especially if you’re feeling isolated and lonely. Here’s some other ways dogs -- and all pets -- can help: 

  • Easing loneliness.Dogs make great companions, which is particularly important now, when so many of us are cut off from family and friends. If you live alone, just having another living creature in the house can make you feel less isolated. 

  • Reducing stress. Much of stress comes from worrying about the unknown, which is something most of us are struggling with during this time. Caring for and playing with a dog helps you focus on the present moment and appreciate its joys. 

  • Providing emotional support. It’s not just the companionship that makes a difference. Many dogs can pick up on stress and sadness. Simply knowing you’ve got a loyal pet who’s there for you and loves you no matter what can bring you comfort. 

  • Adding laughter and levity. It’s hard to stay worried or upset with a dog looking to play catch. A pet can remind you not to forget the good in life, even in the darkest of times. 

  • Giving you purpose. If you’re low on motivation and feel depressed stuck inside your home, caring for a pet will make your days more meaningful. It can also help you stick to a schedule and keep you on track. 

It’s no coincidence that many people have turned to animals for reassurance and support during this time. Shelters and other animal welfare organizations have received unprecedented interest in fostering or adopting animals.  If you think fostering or adopting is right for you, please contact your local shelter. You can locate a shelter by visiting sites such as petfinder.com. 

Adopting a dog from your local shelter is just one way to observe National Dog Day. For more ways to celebratecheck out nationaldogday.com’s 20 Ways to Celebrate man’s (and woman’s) best friend.