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Can Getting a Dog Help with Depression?

Young woman and a Yorkshire terrier dog

Why a Canine Companion Might Be a Good Idea

Depression can make it hard to focus on anything other than negative thoughts and emotions—especially if you're recovering from a substance use disorder. But if you're considering adding a furry friend to your family, there's evidence that suggests a dog might help you on your journey to recovery. Here's what you need to know.

Dogs Provide Unconditional Love

One of the best things about dogs is that they offer unconditional love. They're always happy to see us no matter how low we feel. This can be a powerful antidote to the isolation and negative self-talk that often accompany depression.

In addition, research shows that interacting with animals can increase levels of oxytocin—a hormone sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone” associated with happiness and stress relief. Just a few minutes of petting a dog can help you feel calmer and more positive.

Dogs Can Encourage Exercise

Depression can make it hard to find the motivation to exercise, but it's essential to recovery. Dogs need to be walked, which can provide an opportunity for you to get some fresh air and gentle exercise—both of which have mood-boosting benefits.

Dogs Can Help Reduce Loneliness

Recovery can be a lonely process, but a dog can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Having a furry friend to care for can also give you a sense of purpose and responsibility—two more important elements of recovery.

Georgia Addiction Recovery Center

Of course, adding a dog to your life is a big decision, and it's not suitable for everyone. But if you're considering it, talk to your therapist or treatment team to see if a canine companion might be a good fit for you.

At North Georgia Recovery Center, we understand that addiction is a complex disease, and we're here to support you on your journey to recovery. To learn more about our program, please contact us.