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Will adopting a dog help lower my depression?

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I am contemplating on adopting a dog to help alleviate my levels of depression. I like the concept of having a dog to walk and me getting exercise. My therapist said that exercise will help lower my depression and help me lose weight (since I am on Abilify also).


But I have never taken care of a dog before. I have birds at home.


Will having a dog lower my depression? And what's it like taking care of a dog? My main concern is where and how often they excrete waste.


I just need a companion pet that will help lower my depression levels.


Also, does anybody here have dogs, and do they help your condition in any way?

Edited by LonelyArtist
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There are several studies that point to the benefits of animal ownership for increasing mental health.


Here's a good list of things to think about before you commit to getting a dog:



Dogs need regular exercise and a committed owner to teach them what's acceptable in a gentle, firm, loving way. Are you prepared to be very patient, and perhaps go to dog training classes with your friend if needed?


Well trained dogs will pee and poop on command. When she is healthy, Nugget poops once in the morning and once in the evening when we are out taking our little walks. She also needs to pee 3-5 times a day, 2 of which are the same as poopin' time. You will need to be responsible for picking up your dog's poop and disposing of it properly. Are you willing and able to bag up the poop and make sure it gets into the right place for disposal?


When Nugget has eaten something she shouldn't or gets "funny tummy" she will sometimes have diarrhea, which means she poops more often. Sometimes it gets on her back leg feathers and that requires special cleaning attention. Is that something you are willing to do?


You will have expenses for food, regular vet visits and immunizations, as well as emergencies. Can you afford to take care of your friend when she/he gets sick and make sure she/he gets proper care?


Can you give this dog a FOREVER HOME? Are you willing to commit to living in places that are dog-friendly? Dogs form bonds with humans and when those bonds get broken, it's not fair to the dog.


These are just some of the things to think about.


The reward of a healthy, happy dog is wonderful, and it does take some work on the human end of the leash.

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Due to my slow internet, I can't see the dog that you are interested in getting. I suggest that you get a short-haired dog as your first. Short-haired dogs are less fuss, less hair everywhere when they shed, less brushing to do, etc. I have a short-haired dog who does not shed. He loves to sleep in my bed. I don't know if I would allow a long-haired dog in my bed.


 I can't say whether it would relieve your depression to have a dog. It's like adding a member to your family. Would adding a member to your family lessen your depression?

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did you go meet "nicole" the cocker spaniel? they are good dogs, but shed as jt said, and they have energy out the wazoo. if you have never owned a dog, a cross breed with a poodle is a good bet, ranging from cockerdoodle [cocker spanial x poodle] to labradoodle etc, they don't shed, are anti alergenic, and good natured


yeah, dogs poo, young dogs poo everwhere, older dogs poo where they should, older and well trained where ou tell them when you tell them


whether it helps depends on many factors, if it stays in the backyard for eg it might not help much, if it sleeps near or with you, it'll nag you in some way [varies with training, but even well trained havesubtle was to wake you] to wake you up in the morning, and things like that help. a big part of the benefit is a dog as a forced bod clock and excercise regulator, which isn't always fun, but can help

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I think Wooster (and HD and jt07) brought up most of the points I would talk about.


I will say that I got my dog (see my avatar) when I was deep in the Black Pit.  He didn't lift me out of it, but he would let me cry on him and stayed with me for hours on the couch when I couldn't move.


However, I have had dogs and cats before.  If you have never had a dog, you should ask a friend if you could dog-sit their dog for a few days and see if you like having one around.  As Wooster points out, adopting a dog means giving it a FOREVER home.  It's not fair to take a dog home from a shelter if you're not sure that this is a good thing.


Having said that, my dog was a major factor in starting my exercise program.  Except for when I'm injured or the weather is exceptionally cold, I have walked every day for 30-50 minutes for almost 8 years now.  Yes, it can lift your mood and it will help you start to lose weight if you also watch your diet.  But getting a dog is a separate decision, and you shouldn't get one if you can't love it and take care of it.



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Before getting a dog, what about volunteering at a shelter for a bit, to see if you are ready to adopt?


Dogs can be a lot of work. An older dog, not a puppy, will be more trained and ready. If you were to volunteer at a shelter, you could get to know it, first. Or you could foster, and later, own. 


My dad adopted a dog after a lot of consideration, and family consideration. Max is a lot of work (he's a mix of two high energy breeds - black lab and beagle) but dogs get attached and they'll love you for life. They're very loyal animals. I really do recommend visiting shelters, and even volunteering a bit before deciding. 


Just to add: My dad is bipolar, he had a heart attack, and Max helped him get out to walk regularly and definitely helped with his mood. He's a lovely pooch. We got him at 6 months old, and he'll always be a big ball of energy. But as a puppy, he was somewhat of a tornado! 

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Whether or not a dog will help with your depression also depends on how well you and the dog get along. We have two dogs: one of them is charming, mellow, and lovely to be around, and the other I genuinely hate. I would give him away in an instant if it was up to me, but my husband has made it very clear that I have no say in the matter.


I've never felt this way about an animal before and I didn't know I could. It's very distressing, and now I feel as if I should warn potential pet owners that getting animals can be a truly nasty experience.

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Great post, Titania.  Lonely Artist, you have gotten a lot of good information.


I don't have a dog, but I've had two cats since they were kittens.  One died about a year and a half ago when he was nearly fifteen, and the other one is now 16 and a half, and is taking a nap right now as I write this.


The reason I mention this is because I never thought about the care involved with elderly pets.  I have to give the one that's still alive meds twice a day as he has hyperthyroidism, and the beginnings of kidney disease, which will eventually kill him / is the most likely cause of death for him in the future.  All the vet visits, blood tests, meds, etc., add up.  I am luckily able at this point in time to pay for it all, but there have been times where I wouldn't have been able to, and that would have killed me.


They have been absolute wonderful friends to me, and I'm so glad we've gotten to live together for all these years.  Cats aren't as much work as dogs, but they won't help you get outdoors for exercise!  :)

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Yep, my vet told me that having a dog is like caring for a 3 yr old child. That is their maturity level. And their needs are expensive, they have vet visits and meds, toys and treats, food which can be expensive if you get a decent one, and you should because your dog will be healthier. They require a huge emotional investment on your part. Exercise, attention even if you are depressed and don't feel up to it. However, my dog keeps me from staying in bed when I'm not working and loves me no matter what. She is a love bug and is up for playing and cuddling any time. I am in love with her. She drives me nuts when she pokes her nose in the trash and jumps up to grab nibbles from the counter. We are working on that. But you've got to expect that they are going to do annoying stuff like that. My mom's dog eats poop and rolls in it, kills baby bunnies in the yard and runs away any chance she gets. Fun times!


I take my doggie out several times a day, in the AM and PM to poop, and at least 4 times during the day. Sometimes she poops 3 times. She barks or hits the keys in the door when she has to go. If I am working and the kids are in school she is in her crate. I just feel safer knowing she isn't eating something she shouldn't, or chewing an electrical cord (even though she hasn't done that since she was a small puppy). Do you have a yard? If not, you will have to pick up the poop right after it goes. I have a yard so I don't pick it up that day. i just keep the poops to one area of the yard so it's easier to find them when I am ready to do it.


Cats, like mentioned above are awesome too, we have 2. Most cats are perfectly fine using the litter box. They are more selective when they want attention though, and will walk away when you are petting them! :) Cats are the boss and you are their lowly human.


Small furries are good too, as long as you don't mind cleaning the cage but they have a shorter life span.

Edited by wj74
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Our dogs have been a huge antidressant effect for me.   Bear in mind that they are not immortal.  We just put one down last week, so I''m seriously down right now.  But the effect he had on me was super positive.  The best antidepressant without a script.  I hope you go through with the adoption and enjoy all the love and affection a dog can give.

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Dogs can be a lot of work, but the unconditional love they bestow on us makes it all worthwhile. My dog is always crazy happy to see me when I come home no matter how I am feeling. He loves me no matter what or in what condition even if I haven't showered for days due to my depression. If I cry, he comes running to comfort me. It's about as pure unconditional love as you can get.

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