The Wrangler

Man’s Best Friend, Also Man’s Best Medicine?

Can Dogs' Improve One's Mental Health?

Allie Steward, Photojournalist

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Have you ever been in a bad mood, but then scrolled past a photo of a dog on instagram and your day instantly brightens? The majority of people would answer yes. The same idea applies for when a person is sad and they pet their dog to cheer themselves up. Canines just seem to make people happier in general. Having a dog is like having an illiterate child that barks and jumps and is probably not potty-trained. So why do so many people adopt them?

Owning a dog is proven to improve or benefit one’s mental health. One reason that is commonly overlooked is that they get you to go outside and enjoy fresh air. This is especially beneficial to those who live in large cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York. It is so easy to become trapped inside all day, typing away at a computer or never “having the time” to go outside. Having a dog forces one to get outdoors. Getting fresh air and being out in nature is another key ingredient to keeping your mind healthy, having a dog forces one to follow these steps. Additionally, dogs lessen loneliness, give people a purpose, and petting dogs is proven to reduce stress.

There has been some controversy on whether or not service dogs should be allowed on airplanes or not. Regardless or what you may believe, dogs do help people with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Many people coming back from the war with PTSD have abnormal levels of serotonin. Dogs have been scientifically proven to regulate these levels. Senior, Lauren Hutchison says, “whenever I’m stressed or sad, I know when I see my dog I will immediately be in a better mood”. Although dogs on airplanes raises many different arguments, it is unarguable that service dogs for the mentally impaired can be a necessity.

Specifically narrowing in on veterans with PTSD, dogs have been proven to not only calm these vets simply with their presence, but they also help keeps vets from becoming homeless. Vets becoming homeless is incredibly common especially when they are not offered a proper support system. Psychologists and therapists work for some people, but not all. Family members and friends, although the intentions may be good, can only help so much when it comes to a serious mental illness or situation in which they cannot relate to. Dogs, despite their inability to speak, provide a type of support and love that even humans cannot replicate.

Service dogs are known for aiding the blind and deaf, but it comes as a shock to people when they hear of someone having a service dog for a mental disability. Whether you are lonely in a new town, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or simply looking for a companion to accompany you on your walks, the best medicine is man’s best friend.

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Man’s Best Friend, Also Man’s Best Medicine?