If you have pets, it probably goes without saying that you love them and maybe even consider them family, but what exactly is the human-animal bond?
The American Veterinary Medical Association describes it as “a dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the health and well-being of both.”
There are numerous benefits for both humans and animals that share a special connection, and these are just a few.
Physical well-being: Owning a pet can mean more movement, whether through daily walks, playtime, or other outdoor activities. This increased physical activity can lead to lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and stress, and help prevent cardiovascular disease.
psychic well-being: Unconditional love from a pet can provide comfort and minimize feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Pets can offer a sense of purpose and increased confidence for those who may be struggling personally.
A 2006 study even found that pet owners laughed more on a daily basis compared to those without pets. Another study found that the simple act of petting an animal can reduce anxiety, and in fact, interactions with pets activate the feel-good hormone oxytocin in our systems.
Socializing Opportunities: Having pets in our lives can motivate us to go outside more often, which can lead to increased social interactions. After all, pets are great conversation starters. These social outings can be especially beneficial for older people who may be more isolated than others.
Greater independence: Service and emotional support animals not only help your people cope with everyday tasks and even health conditions, but also provide comfort and reassurance to those who may be suffering from past trauma.
Child Health and Development: The human-animal bond in children is associated with increased perspective-taking and intellectual development, as well as expanded social networks and interactions. Studies have shown that having a pet in childhood can boost self-esteem, fulfill a child’s desire to be needed, and give them a sense of purpose.
When children form a connection with their family pet, it can decrease loneliness and increase their ability to express emotions. Often a pet can serve as a confidant to a child, providing a safe space to share and feel.
Additionally, early exposure to cats and dogs during the first few years of life can also help strengthen a child’s immune system against allergies and asthma.
There are so many ways animals enhance our lives, from practical health benefits to overall emotional well-being. Whether you enjoy laughing at your pet’s antics, snuggling up on chilly nights, or exploring the great outdoors, there are many benefits to sharing life with a pet.
RedRover truly believes that pets are family and is committed to strengthening the human-animal bond through emergency shelter, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. Now in our 35th year, we remain dedicated to helping animals and their families in crisis.
Nicole Forsyth is President and CEO of red rover, a nonprofit organization focused on lifting animals out of crisis and strengthening the human-animal bond through emergency shelter, disaster relief services, financial assistance, and education. She writes For the Love of Pets for the Bay Area Newsgroup. She sends her questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.