This Is Why You Need a Therapy Dog If You Have a Mental Disorder

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Guest Post By: Paige Johnson
LearnFit.org

Most of us are familiar with service dogs that help people with physical impairments such as blindness or paralysis. We see them assist with crossing the street, opening doors, and performing other tasks that make their owners’ lives more manageable. Now, studies show that dogs are effective at treating depression and anxiety and improving people’s overall health. If you have a mental disorder, you need to consider getting a therapy dog. We’ll show you why below.

Dogs help peopleTherapy Dogs Help People with Mental Disorders Navigate Social Situations

People who have depression and anxiety often avoid social situations because they worry about what may happen when they are around too many people or strangers. They often have negative thoughts and fears. As Pet Wellness Academy co-founder Dr. Katie Kangas explains: “Anxiety and depression involve emotional turmoil and negative internal ‘self-talk.’ These thoughts typically spiral into unrealistic negativity and this continues in a vicious cycle.”

Dogs, whether they are pets or trained therapy animals, provide comfort and companionship for people with mental disorders by providing them with a reason for leaving the house and being in social situations. For example, your dog requires exercise such as a daily walk. Having a dog by your side can help you stay calm and provide comfort because you have a friend with you in situations that make you uncomfortable.

Trained dogs also can recognize the signs of a panic attack and calm their owners when one begins. Some trained dogs nudge their owner’s hand or leg or lick them to provide a stimulus to distract or calm them. They also know how to block strangers from approaching their owners and help them remain calm when they are among too many unfamiliar people.

Therapy dogs also help people navigate social situations by providing a starting point for conversations. When you walk your dog, for example, people may ask about your dog or try to pet him, prompting you to explain that your dog is working and how he helps you navigate day-to-day life. The dog acts as an icebreaker for conversations that otherwise may be difficult or uncomfortable for a person with a mental disorder. Plus, dogs are nonjudgmental and can provide a great listening ear for you when you’re struggling with difficult situations.

Pet Therapy Improves Mental Health

People living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism, and other mental disorders benefit from pet therapy in several ways. Petting a dog relieves stress because it cues the body to release endorphins, or feel-good chemicals. Endorphins are powerful enough to positively impact people with depression and other mental disorders.

Similarly, having a dog can be a distraction from your own fears and problems. Your dog needs love and attention, so you’ll tend to focus on your animal’s needs rather than your own fears and problems. In other words, your dog can give you purpose: a reason to get out of bed every day, get dressed, feed your pet, give him water, and take him for a walk.
You’ll develop nurturing skills and a sense of empathy when you care for your dog, and you may be less likely to fall into depression.

Overall, people with mental disorders who own therapy dogs benefit in many ways:

    • They decrease anxiety and depression
    • Therapy dogs also increase the person’s sense of comfort and safety
    • They reduce loneliness, which helps alleviate the symptoms of depression
    • Younger people with therapy dogs find that they have increased self-esteem and confidence when they are with their dogs, which makes going to school and being in otherwise uncomfortable social situations more manageable

If you have a mental disorder, there are countless benefits of getting a therapy dog. You will feel more comfortable in a variety of social situations when you have a therapy dog, and your dog can calm you when you begin to feel too anxious. Simply petting the dog will calm you and help relieve depression symptoms. And, owning a therapy dog will give you a sense of purpose that will keep you going even when your depression or anxiety tries to take over your mind.

Image via Pixabay by Pexels

How an Emotional Support Dog Can Help You Get Through a Tough Day

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Guest Post by: Brad Smith, TherapyPet.org

If you have a dog as an emotional support pet, you already know how much affection and fun they bring. However, did you know that dogs also offer powerful physical and mental health benefits? They can greatly minimize anxiety, stress, feelings of loneliness and depression, along with encouraging playfulness and exercise, and even strengthening your cardiovascular health. During the days when you are feeling down, an emotional support dog can help you in the following ways:

Acceptance and Unconditional Love

As much as we know, dogs don’t have prejudices, opinions and critiques. Even if you are reeking of alcohol after a bad day, they will be more than willing to cuddle with you. If your relationship with your friends or family is frayed and complicated, and you don’t really have no one to come home to and vent, your dog will be ever-present as the best antidote to your sadness and stress. They will not judge, nor complain and will certainly not give you advice you don’t want.

Distraction from Your Pain and Anguish

Dogs are just as good as books and movies. They take our minds off the worries and into another dimension, one where there’s only playfulness, clowning around, a wet nose and lots of kisses. This type of distraction is the best type since it makes you forget how awful your day went when you have a furry friend breathing in your face all the time.

More Physical Contact

Touching has undisputedly strong healing powers. Studies suggest that 45 minutes of massage can lower stress levels and enhance your immune system by promoting the growth of white blood cells. Hugging produces a hormone that lowers blood pressure, stress levels and heart rates. The touch of another human or animal can stop certain parts of the brain from reacting to threat clues. Thus, it is not surprising how handling a dog, i.e stroking and cuddling it, can regularize heart rates and lower blood pressure while boosting dopamine and serotonin levels.

Increased Levels of Activity

After a tough day, the last thing you probably want to do is be active. Slouching down and binge eating while crying over your miseries can worsen your physical and mental state. However, if you have a friendly support companion waiting for you at home, you are sure to get some physical activity. Dogs need to be walked, fed and followed which will mean extra physical activity on your part.

More Social Interaction

Dogs are natural icebreakers, which mean they subtly push you towards more social interaction. On a tough day, you may decide to walk your dog and find yourself chatting with other dog walkers and befriending them in the process.

Better Health

Research suggests that dog owners experience protection against heart disease, reduced stress hormones, and increased levels of feel-good chemical present in the brain both while and prior to performing stressful mental tasks. A study with Chinese female participants found that owning a dog can help with better sleep, better fitness due to increased exercise and improved overall health resulting in fewer sick days.

Create a Routine

Having a daily routine helps people fight depression by utilizing their time efficiently. An emotional support dog’s natural routine, i.e. walking in the morning, demanding for food and playtime, can help you direct your attention towards the activities instead of sulking about your day.

These are just some of the ways that your emotional support dog can help you get through a bad day without breaking down.

Tips for shopping for Toys for Chihuahuas

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Chihuahua PuppySince our dog, Blue Belle, is a medium sized dog and not a Chihuahua we recognize that we don’t know much about how to take care of a small puppy.  Thanks to this post from Sara, we have learned about the needs of a Chuhuahua puppy. Sara tells us before you go shopping for toys for Chihuahuas, check out this easy guide. You’ll learn everything you need to know about what your Chi needs in a toy.

Guest Post by Sara, Freelance Writer ~ ILoveAll Dogs

What you should consider before buying Toys for Chihuahuas

We all want to give our dogs the best food, treats and toys that money can buy. But sometimes we’re not sure where to start. You might find yourself confused about what the right toys are when you’re a new dog owner. This applies for every breed but in this case, we’re talking about Chihuahuas.

As a parent to a brand new Chihuahua puppy, you want to start spoiling them right away. You want to get the best toys for them so that they can meet all their chewing needs.

But don’t go shopping for toys for your Chihuahua before you learn about the best toys for them. They’re little dogs but as puppies they can chew like any other breed. Here you will find everything you need to know before buying toys for Chihuahuas.  All your Chihuahua’s needs and what qualities to look for in a toy are right here.

Teething and Chewing

Chihuahua puppies love to chew but they aren’t the only ones. Even adult Chihuahuas enjoy chewing. Chi puppies start teething at around the age of 4 months. The reason for their need to chew is because they’re gums are itchy. They’re gums itch because they’re baby teeth are getting lose and their adult teeth are coming in.

It’s so important to have adequate toys for your Chi pup to chew on to relieve their discomfort. If you don’t provide good toys for them they’ll turn to chewing everything else in sight. This includes furniture, shoes and anything else they can get their paws on.

Below are some factors to consider before buying, courtesy of Petchidog.com. Continue reading

Well-Known Secret Behind Pet Stores

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Please join me in welcoming a guest blog post by Dayton Uttinger who informs us about the new law being discussed in the New Jersey Legislature.  If enacted, it will prevent pet stores from buying animals from “mills”, only from rescue and adoption shelters.

Thank you, Dayton, for your article. – Julie

The Well-Known Secret Behind Pet Stores

By: Dayton Uttinger

Happy puppyThere are few things that excite a household more than bringing home a new puppy.  Everyone crowds around the new addition to the family. Some are eager for attention, others withdraw into the arms of whoever’s carrying them, but they are all small and fragile, no matter how large they’re destined to grow later.  However, depending on the dog’s origin, dangerous health problems can develop with time, especially if it came from a puppy mill.

Puppy mills have long been the bane of animal rights advocates.  Although 62% of American households own at least one dog, and we all tend to treat them like family, we don’t always investigate where they’re coming from.  We figure that we’ll be giving our pet all the love that they deserve, so really, we’re rescuing an animal from a puppy mill when we buy from a chain store, right? Continue reading

Match Your Personality to the Canine You Ought to Adopt

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Guest Post By: Barry Nyhan

Intro:

Fetch is a discovery natural dog treat subscription box that is launching in August. We ship 4 all natural treats right to your doorstep every month for you and your favorite pooch. For dogs, the Fetch dog subscription box is like the great happiness of jumping into a giant ball pit! Watch their eyes light up and their tails wag uncontrollably as they see the subscription box full of tasty treats arrive to the door every month.

Your Personality and the Adoptable Canine

Much like attempting to locate your future spouse or wife, finding a solid match for your K-9 partner is crucial. Consider it, will be with this lovable animal for 10-15 years, so we here at FETCH believes it makes sense that picking a pooch whose demeanor, vitality level, and identity work well with your own is a savvy move. That being said, read on to find the kind of pooch that may suit you best.

The Eccentric, Carefree, and Softly Dynamic House Inhabitant

Not searching for a pooch to trek up mountains or train for a marathon with, yet at the same time need one that is vigorous and cherishing? Consider a pug. This upbeat breed will joyfully go on strolls and to the pooch park with you, regularly mingles well with different canines, and are the best little snugglers on the planet. Since they are so social, you might need to consider getting them in sets so they will have a companion to play with when you’re away.Dog - Adopt a Pug Continue reading

How Dogs Improve Your Health

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When I first heard from a guest poster about this subject of dogs improving my health, I thought of how much our dog has improved our mental, emotional, and physical health by being such an awesome companion and member of our family.  But I didn’t realize how much they can improve our health because of a fine blend of human and canine microbes.  – Julie

Guest Poster: Katie Connor
APlaceForAnimals.com

Has it ever occurred to you that keeping a dog at home is not just a momentary bliss but a permanent health regimen? A few licks and tail-wagging from your pet can surprisingly change your mood right then and there, and it makes everything a whole lot better, even with the most depressing of circumstance. Truly, their magic never fails to amaze us.

But did you know that dogs can improve our health too? Not only do they make a great companion and become our best friends but new evidence suggests that having a pet dog can’t only decrease stress in their owners but the microbes from dogs may also be aiding the dog owner’s overall physical health and well-being.

Thanks to microbiome – a single celled organism which is present just about everywhere in our environment; they outnumber the cells in our body by 10-1. As science starts to understand the importance of the microbiome, we are starting to realize just how important they are to our general health and well-being.

After all, it’s not just simply about emotional attachment, it does have something to do with how these micro-organisms are wired on the planet. It’s the connection between one living thing to another that drives us all into existence. These organisms may not be visible to the naked eye, but with enough ratio, it can be truly beneficial to everyone. In fact, they are often shared through a dog’s mouth, fur, and its other parts of the body. Science and emotional well-being does have something in common, doesn’t it? Continue reading