The Human-Animal Bond
Our veterinarians and veterinary support staff share a deep love for animals, and if you’re reading this, we’re guessing that you feel the same. That link between us and our dogs, cats, birds and other pets goes beyond unconditional love and companionship. The invisible ties that bind us to our pets can have a dramatic impact on our lives and our health.
What is the Human-Animal Bond?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) the human- animal bond is defined as, “…a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors essential to the health and wellbeing of both. This includes, among other things, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment.”
Anyone who has ever had a pet or working animal probably doesn’t need a scientific definition of the bond shared. The connections we share with our animals go deeper than words.
How the Human-Animal Bond Benefits Us
The human-animal bond benefits our pets in many obvious ways. Because we love them, we make sure they are provided with food, shelter, medical care, entertainment, and affection. The various ways in which humans benefit, however, may go deeper than basic needs:
• Stress reduction/Improved Mood-
Petting an animal increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, two chemicals that are essential for happiness and relaxation. It has also been shown to reduce stress in humans. Lowered blood pressure is often the result of the extra exercise and lowered stress that can accompany pet ownership.
• Increased healing and independence -
Service and therapeutic animals are invaluable to their handlers, providing help with daily tasks, emotional and mental support, and recovery from traumatic events.
• More physical activity -
Caring for a pet involves some degree of physical activity, and living with a pet that needs a daily walk or play session is an excellent way to get off the couch and out the door.
• Immunity boost -
Children who grow up with animals in the home have been shown to have fewer allergies and are less likely to develop asthma than those who aren’t raised with animals.
• Social connections -
Thanks to their many needs, pets provide us with numerous opportunities to get out and interact with our friends and neighbors. This is especially helpful for seniors or others who may be less likely to incorporate a social activity into their daily lives.
• Emotional support -
Your pet doesn’t care how much money you make, what type of car you drive, what you look like, or whether or not you wear name-brand clothes. Pets provide us with impartial, unconditional emotional support and love.
Although animals have been proven to benefit humans’ health, the wrong pet could end up becoming the exact opposite of a stress reliever. Before bringing home an animal, choose carefully; consider how much attention, space, and time you can give to a new companion.
If you choose well, you'll have a friend for many years!