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How Your Chihuahua Can Help With Stress

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How Your Chihuahua Can Help With Stress

Stress can take its toll on both your mind and body over time. A hectic home or work life can leave you feeling tired, drained, and demotivated.

I recently went through a major health crisis a year ago (cancer) and I don’t know how I would have made it through if I didn’t have my 4 dogs to help me.

It was mentioned to me numerous times that I was handling everything so well and how strong I was and I owe all of that to my sweet fur kids who helped me through the pain, fear, and the emotional and physical upheaval that the treatment caused.

My dogs seemed to know when I had a hard day and were so attentive and loving, that it made even the roughest day easier.

A pet can help you to not only cope with stress but can actually lower your stress levels altogether. This is good news considering almost half of American households are home to a dog. As a chihuahua owner, there are several ways that your four-legged friend can help to ease your anxiety and improve your mental state.

Woman sitting on floor with 2 chihuahuas.

Lower Cortisol Levels

When we’re stressed out, our body releases a hormone called cortisol to help cope with the after-effects. In small doses, cortisol can be beneficial. It helps to control blood sugar levels and blood pressure, regulate metabolism, and reduce inflammation in times of extreme stress.

Over time, though, heightened cortisol levels can end up doing more damage than good. Excess cortisol can cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, and even weakened bones.

The best way to regulate cortisol levels is to avoid stress whenever possible, and your four-legged friend can help you to do just that.

Spending time with dogs has been shown to lead to drops in blood pressure and reactivity to stress. You can lower your cortisol levels and improve your blood pressure by playing with, walking, or even simply snuggling your chihuahua.

More of the “Love Hormone” Oxytocin

Snuggling your pooch is also a good way to boost your levels of oxytocin, more commonly known as the “love” or “cuddle hormone.” This is the chemical that helps mothers bond to their infant or allows two adults to develop a deep romantic attachment.

Oxytocin is an essential part of our arsenal of feel-good hormones, and by petting or playing with your pup, you can increase levels in your bloodstream. The release of oxytocin will help to boost your mood and reduce stress levels for hours after a good snuggle session.

Woman exercise walking with Chihuahua dog in the park.

More Health Benefits

  1. Increased Physical Activity: Chihuahuas require regular walks, which encourages their owners to engage in daily physical activity. Regular walks can help improve cardiovascular health, aid in weight management, and increase stamina. For the elderly or those less active, the exercise demands of a Chihuahua can be a manageable way to maintain physical activity.
  2. Improved Cardiovascular Health: Numerous studies have shown that dog owners often have lower blood pressure and improved heart rate variability than non-dog owners. The presence of a Chihuahua can also lead to lower cholesterol levels and a decreased likelihood of experiencing heart diseases, thanks in part to the increased physical activity and stress reduction associated with pet ownership.
  3. Enhanced Mental Health: Beyond stress reduction, the companionship of a Chihuahua can decrease feelings of depression and loneliness, particularly in those who live alone or are elderly. The responsibility of caring for a dog provides a sense of purpose and routine, which is beneficial for mental health.
  4. Boosted Immune System Response: Regular interaction with dogs has been associated with improved immune system functioning. The daily routine of caring for a Chihuahua, coupled with the exposure to pet dander and the outdoor environment, can help fortify your body’s defense against various illnesses.
  5. Improved Social Interactions: Chihuahuas can act as social catalysts, facilitating interactions with other people. Whether it’s meeting other dog owners at the park, engaging in community pet events, or simply interacting with neighbors during walks, Chihuahuas can help enhance your social life. Increased social interaction is linked to improved mental health and reduced levels of stress and anxiety.
  6. Better Sleep Quality: Sharing your home with a Chihuahua can also lead to better sleep quality. The security and companionship offered by a pet can help alleviate insomnia and make you feel more relaxed at bedtime. Some studies suggest that having a pet in the home can help soothe sleep disturbances.
  7. Longevity: Dog owners often experience increased longevity. The combination of physical activity, improved mental health, and reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases contributes to a potentially longer life span.
Little boy in costume playing with chihuahua puppy mom on couch.

Practical Tips to Help You

Engaging with your Chihuahua can be a delightful way to alleviate stress and enhance your well-being. Here are some practical tips to maximize the stress-relieving benefits of spending time with your Chihuahua:

  1. Regular Playtime: Schedule daily play sessions with your Chihuahua. Use toys that stimulate their mind and encourage interaction, like small fetch toys or soft puzzles designed for dogs. This not only keeps them active but also strengthens your bond.
  2. Mindful Walking: Turn your daily walks into a mindfulness exercise. Pay attention to the environment around you, the sounds, the smells, and the sights. Observe your Chihuahua’s reactions and stay present in the moment. This practice can be calming and reduce feelings of stress.
  3. Training Sessions: Use training sessions to create a deeper connection with your Chihuahua. Training them with positive reinforcement techniques like treats and praises can be a fulfilling way to spend time together and also helps in reducing your stress as you see their progress.
  4. Relaxation Routines: Incorporate your pet into your relaxation routines. While you practice yoga or meditation at home, encourage your Chihuahua to sit quietly beside you or even join you on the mat. Their presence can enhance the calming effect of your routine.
  5. Cuddle Time: Set aside time for cuddling with your Chihuahua each day. Physical contact, such as petting and holding your dog, increases the release of oxytocin in the brain, the hormone associated with happiness and stress relief.
Cute woman playing with her chihuahua on living room sofa.

Company and Companionship

Humans are social creatures, and isolation can eventually lead to both mental and physical symptoms, including problems with learning and memory, anxiety, depression, and even circulatory issues. It’s important that we all experience friendly contact, preferably on a daily basis. This can be hard for those of us who live alone or work from home, however.

A four-legged friend can be just as good as a human when it comes to curbing loneliness. Having a chihuahua around gives you the love and contact that you need. A dog also opens new opportunities to meet people through interest groups, at the dog park, or simply walking your pup down the street.

Feeling stressed can do much more than just affect your sleep cycle. It can have a negative impact on both the mind and body that only gets worse with time. Luckily, your chihuahua can help to regulate your stress levels by providing the love and companionship that you need.


What you should know about emotional support animals

Cathy signature with cartoon chihuahua
blond woman holding white chihuahua

Cathy Bendzunas

Pet Blogger

I have had dogs all my life. I have been a pet groomer, worked in a pet hotel, and a kennel, and have bred and showed dogs.

Patricia Boston

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

Kathy I agree about the company of a Chi. My husband spent a week in hospital I live in the countryside although my son is not far away I was alone with Bumble he was my soul companion im deaf and he Albert's me when the phone rings if any one is at the door neverleaves my side he is fantastic I just love him dearly he really is the best thank you Kathy for your great letters full of information I do look forward to to them very best wishes pat (Boston)


Saturday 28th of May 2022

I'm so glad you have your little fur baby to help you! They are awesome caretakers.


Thursday 10th of March 2022

I Struggle with my chi-pincher always growling at people who I meet while walking or when invited into my home. My husband and I would like to travel outside the US but she would be so sad and think we abandoned her.


Friday 11th of March 2022

Is there anyone that she could stay with who she loves? That could help. Also on the last trip I took, I face-timed my dogs and it did help 3 of them. The 4thjust kept whining when he saw me.

jill richter

Monday 17th of May 2021



Monday 17th of May 2021

Im glad you have her to help you Jill!

Odette Ebersole

Saturday 15th of May 2021

My chi puppy (7 months old now) brings me so much joy and love. She, Lucy, is my second chi. I'm 70 now, and she is my baby/child. I'm looking into designating her as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). Would you please provide an article on the process and the benefits to owners. I don't necessarily mean the benefits of taking the dog to places, but the emotional support benefits an ESA gives....again, an Emotional Support Animal, not a Service Dog, as they are not the same. Reading the previous comments brought me to this request. Thank you.


Sunday 16th of May 2021

That's a great idea Odette. I'll add it to my list of posts to write.

Michaelene Bush

Saturday 15th of May 2021

Wow,a foot long lizard in my yard would scare me. Do you know what kind it was? I believe some lizards carry poison in their mouths as a protection.


Saturday 15th of May 2021

Actually with the tail, it was longer than that. But that was the biggest one. There's lots of small ones running around too. I believe they are skinks and they are really kind of pretty with blue tails, and metallic greens and even red on them. I read about them and they eat bugs and small rodents so I really don't mind having them around as long as my dogs don't catch one and get sick.