How Dogs Can Help with Depression

FEB. 02, 2018

By Greer Grenley


Depression is a widespread issue in the U.S. affecting about 40 million adults. Fortunately, there are many ways to feel better. Talking to a licensed psychiatrist can make a huge difference and there are so many effective medications out there. Exercise and healthy eating can help too, as can opening up to and spending more time with family members, close friends and pets. In fact: Did you know that dogs can play an integral part in your emotional well-being?

Dogs can contribute to your happiness. Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and improve your all-around health. For example, people with dogs have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease—just playing with dogs has been shown to elevate oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their pet.

For someone living with depression, there is so much to gain from having a dog. Here are just a few of the many benefits.


Pets help you lead a healthy lifestyle. Dogs need exercise, which means you’ll be exercising right along with them! Exercise increases endorphins, which fight depression. Because dogs need consistency, you’ll learn how to make exercise a daily routine instead of a once-in-a-while activity. Research has shown that consistency in one’s schedule can help reduce stress levels and lead to better sleep patterns and overall health.


Dogs give you a reason to talk to new people while on walks or at the dog park, which can alleviate the loneliness you might feel in a depressive episode. Socialization with others, especially face-to-face, has been shown to ease symptoms of depression. This is especially true for people aged 50 years or older.  

Having a companion can also prevent depression from worsening, especially therapy and service dogs who are constantly in tune to your needs. Caring for an animal gives you purpose, makes you feel wanted and helps take focus away from your depression.


Dogs can be a lot to handle, but research shows that responsibility helps your mental health. Some psychologists say that you build self-esteem by taking ownership and applying skills to a specific task. Taking care of a dog offers reassurance that you can care for another creature and for yourself.

If you love dogs but can’t commit to or afford one, try dog-sitting! Sites and apps like allow you to do everything from short walks and check-ins to daycare and dog boarding. It’s worth a try. Because not only can dogs make you feel better, but the responsibilities entailed in the human-canine relationship can provide important structural and social benefits that lessen the burden of depression.

Dogs bring happiness into your life, and depression is often no match for the unconditional love they provide.


Greer Grenley is a part-time dog writer and full-time dog lover. She lives in Seattle where she can be seen out-and-about with her Aussiedoodle, George.


SEP, 20, 2018 07:58:06 AM
Daniel Jameson
No doubt dogs have the ultimate power to make humans feel happy. But pet owners experience some restrictions when it comes to living with their pets in rented accommodations. I experienced the same problem six months ago. Luckily, i got to know about ESA letter, a legal permission to live with your pet. And Steady Care Medical Clinic helped me get it at reasonable rates.

AUG, 29, 2018 05:20:16 AM
One feels stressed when memories & thoughts hang heavy on the mind. Despite the best efforts, the affected person fails to rid of them. Pets have a quality to read the mind and emotions of man. He responds in a way that suits its master. Numerous patients with mental ill-health conditions have been able to alleviate such disorders by keeping pets on the recommendations of licensed and reputed mental health specialist physicians like My ESA Doctor.

AUG, 25, 2018 07:05:41 PM
I see that I am not alone with some others who need/want a dog for therapy.
My problem how can I find a dog that's right for me?

JUL, 06, 2018 06:34:56 PM
Janet Kuhn
I take care of my sister's dog while she is at work or goes out of towncand no matter how I may be feeling he brings me so much joy to my life.

JUL, 03, 2018 06:51:08 AM
Robert E.Manis
suffer with ( Severe Chronic Depression ) dr, suggested service / companion dog ? How do I go about aquireing one?

MAY, 05, 2018 02:51:19 PM
Vanessa Perry
I have severe depression i know i,need i want me a small dog.i love animals.i want one.livealone .taking Zoloft which idont think helps.I get lonely and i eat well over200 lbs.on disability cant really afford to buy one.were i live is$200.00 dog if you can help me in any kind of a way.Thank you !!

FEB, 28, 2018 01:14:32 PM
Kurtis Kemper
Hello, my name is Kurtis Kemper. I'm on disability for anxiety and depression. I want to get a dog. I thought I filled out a application several months ago. Will you please help me ?

FEB, 07, 2018 02:41:03 AM
Excellent article on Dogs & Depression

FEB, 05, 2018 10:28:17 PM
Wendy Turner
I totally agree sometimes he’s the only one I care to talk and I have a lot to say

FEB, 05, 2018 04:16:41 PM
Lizanne Corbit
I think this is a wonderful read. Dogs can be amazingly comforting and supportive. Making sure that you can safely and positively raise and care for a dog is important though. Be mindful of where you live, apartments can prove a little trickier than a house. If you're not up to the task of taking care of a dog full-time you might want to consider volunteer shelter work and/or dog walking. Excellent read.

FEB, 05, 2018 10:56:51 AM
Lisa Smith
Since I married my husband, we have always had at least one German Shepherd. I grew up with cats and love them dearly, but never knew that dogs were so much more devoted and give a different kind of love. Ours have lived 11-13 years each. When we lost our last boy in May, we thought we would need to wait awhile before getting another, as he was so special and we had spent about 10 months doing all kinds of things to keep him going. But both of us felt the sadness and finally started looking again in September. We have our newest family addition ALthough he is rambunctious and chews everything, he is such a joy-meets me at the gate when I leave for work and come home, always happy to see me and gives ppuppy kisses. Wouldnt want to be without him.

FEB, 04, 2018 02:34:28 PM
My dog IS my therapy!!!

FEB, 04, 2018 02:07:12 PM
Marilyn W
Dogs also reduce anxiety by spotting others and alerting you. They push you to get up when you don't think you can stand it, to let them out or feed them, so you become at least that active. Dogs maintain a positive affect even when you feel down. But treating anxiety or depression needs more than the dog, you need an alert, knowledgable psychiatric health care provider and enough insurance to afford to go to see him/her.

FEB, 02, 2018 05:14:59 PM
Janet Kuhn
My sister's dog Quincy makes me feel so good and he is like my own therapy dog. I call him my little buddy and I enjoy our times together.

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