Photo: Splash News
Former Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson has got stress management down to an art: a workout with her trainer every morning, massages with cupping therapy three days a week, and a nightly bath or shower to help keep her calm. But aside from a daily routine, she keeps her anxiety at bay with a little outside help… from two furry, four-legged friends.
Benson is a dog mom to two precious pups — a Shih tzu Maltese named Olive and a Brussels Griffon named Walter — who she credits for helping her chill when things start to feel overwhelming. "I have real bad anxiety, and especially when I work a lot, it gets pretty heavy,” she tells Glam. "So, if I can, I try to bring my dogs to set. Or, if not, coming home to them after a long day at work is so wonderful. It relieves all of my stress just to have them with me.”
As it turns out, the actress is onto something when it comes to relying on her dogs during difficult moments. The phrase “emotional support animal” is no accident — pets really can provide mental and emotional health benefits to their owners. Studies have found that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than people without pets, and playing with cats and dogs can even help elevate the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, which helps you relax.
"If I have any type of anxiety, especially being back and forth from Los Angeles to New York, I go outside and walk with them,” she says. “Literally taking my dogs to the park in New York is the best stress reliever.” Benson is also an avid user of the Charity Miles app while she’s on these strolls, which in partnership with SmartyPaws donates $.50 to the Humane Society for every mile she walks.
To be clear, Benson gives her pooches just as much love and support as they give to her. "Being a dog mom is a lot of work, especially with two dogs, but I literally treat them like my children,” she says, noting that she even feeds them SmartyPaws vitamins every morning to keep them healthy and strong. (Apparently, they’re peanut butter flavored and her dogs can’t get enough of them). "I turn the TV on for them when I leave. They watch Disney Channel all day long. I mean, literally, it's like having two kids. But they're the best thing ever, and they're my best friends."
She continues, "The best thing with dogs is that they're full of constant love — they lick my face all over, probably too much.” she says. "I don't know what I would do without them.”
BRB, taking a trip to the humane society, STAT.