It’s no secret that cats and dogs, horses and birds, and all other pets give us joy and unconditional love every day. The human-animal bond is powerful, and that link goes beyond companionship. We see this bond on display often in our veterinary hospital, and feel fortunate to celebrate the human-animal bond each and every day with our patients and clients.
But, what exactly is it? Why is it so good for us? Dupont Veterinary Clinic decided to find out more about the human-animal bond, and we’re sharing our findings here, with you.
The American Veterinary Medical Association defines the human-animal bond as, “…a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that positively influences the health and well-being of both.” The human-animal bond began thousands of years ago, when animals weren’t only for our pleasure and companionship; they were originally used for work and to complete specific jobs that humans needed in order to survive. Herding, hunting, protection, and pest control were some of that important work.
Eventually, animals became trusted companions as well as workers, and our mutual bond with them strengthened. Now, of course, many pets don’t work at all, though some still do. Regardless of their job (resident couch potato?), our pets are now forever embedded into our lives and they undeniably make our hearts and homes happier.
Why Is the Human-Animal Bond Important?
The human-animal bond has been studied in contemporary times. Scientists theorize that pets now take up a place in people’s lives that is similar to that of a child. Thus, people prioritize taking good care of their pets even when times are difficult. An example of this is that pet spending did not decrease even when the economy took a downturn.
There are other ways we know animals positively affect the lives of people, even over and above our pleasure in their company.
They improve our health – There has been countless studies to show the positive impact animals have on human health: physical, mental, and emotional. Walking with your dog (or running, as the case may be) is great for your health, as well as great for the bond you feel with your dog. Even the act of petting a cat or dog has been shown to reduce blood pressure and alleviate stress. And, visits from therapy dogs have been shown to alleviate pain and discomfort in fibromyalgia patients, cancer patients, and terminally ill children.
They’re good for our kids – Watch your kids interact with your pets, and you’ll see that they are positively impacted by animals. Whether kids are learning empathy, taking care of others, or just getting outside more because of the pets, these interactions with animals teach positive life lessons that last. Additionally, the presence of an animal has been shown to significantly increase positive social behaviors with kids with autism spectrum disorders and can provide pediatric cancer patients with motivation to stay optimistic.
They save our lives – Story after story can be related about pets saving lives. They may alert neighbors when their owner becomes unconscious or falls, keep lost or injured people warm, or provide the companionship that someone needs to fight off loneliness and depression. Check the news and you’re likely to see a story every week that affirms that the human-animal bond saves lives.
It’s more than clear: the invisible ties that bind us to our pets are also good for our body, mind, and spirit. Give us a call to tell us about your experience with the human-animal bond with your own pets. Our team is always here for you and your special friend.