From their adorable, furry faces to their undeniable enthusiasm when they greet us at the door, our pets provide a world of love. It’s not surprising that much research has been conducted on the human-animal bond and its impact on our physical, mental, and emotional health. Likewise, our affection for our animal friends reciprocally enhances their health and wellbeing.
What is the Human-Animal Bond?
By definition, the human-animal bond is more than simply a love for our pets; it is an advantageous and mutually beneficial connection between humans and animals. Humans and domesticated animals have benefited from this connection for thousands of years, when the domestic canine began to make his mark on humanity. Dogs have since become an integral source of protection, love, and in many cases, a member of the family, as have our feline friends.
Today, the human-animal bond is valued in healthcare, social services, and the military. Service and therapeutic pets routinely prove themselves to be effective in improving health and recovery. Assistive and therapeutic animals can be found in childcare centers, nursing homes, hospice facilities, therapy sessions, and hospitals. In essence, the relationship between humans and animals has an undeniable and positive impact on human health, physical ability, and overall well-being.
Eight Ways the Human-Animal Bond Benefits Us
While there are numerous ways pets benefit our lives – too many to list – here are a few that we find to be pretty amazing.
- Pets can be effective in lowering blood pressure – Studies conducted by the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine illustrate that pets help those struggling with high blood pressure by encouraging exercise and decreasing stress.
- Pets encourage physical fitness – Those with pets, and particularly seniors, are more likely to incorporate daily exercise into their lives.
- Animals provide meaningful recovery services – Dogs, horses, cats, and even miniature donkeys have all been instrumental as service animals or therapeutic animals, providing services to help people achieve independence and recover from trauma or mental health challenges.
- Pets improve mood – Petting a dog or cat has been shown to increase dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, which help us relax and stay calm.
- Pets provide companionship – We all value our pets’ companionship. For those who live alone, pets are key to easing a sense of isolation or loneliness and providing an outlet for physical touch and nurturing.
- Pets keep us connected to others – Nothing motivates us more than our dog who is ready for that morning walk. Daily exercise with our pets gives us an opportunity to get out into the neighborhood and interact with fellow dog owners. And who doesn’t love to share photos and stories about their dog, cat or other pet online?
- Animals can help bolster our immunity – That’s right; researchers have shown that children who grow up with pets in the home have stronger immune systems and are less likely to develop allergies.
- Pets provide unconditional love – When a person is dealing with a divorce, death of a loved one or other trauma, or simply need a nonjudgmental companion, pets provide an incredible level of emotional and healing support.
Have you experienced the wonders of the human-animal bond with your pet? We would love to hear more!