The relationship between people and pets appears to be mutually beneficial, but if we had to guess, we get way more than we give. Responsible pet owners provide food, housing, medical care, protection, enrichment, and affection. But what we receive in return seems to far outweigh our own contributions. Pets give their time, adoration, and loyalty without conditions, which improves our lives and increases longevity. In other words, the human-animal bond impacts our health and makes us happier.
Few of us are unmoved by the attention and dedication our pets consistently offer. They give us so much each day that it can feel downright impossible to imagine life without them. Perhaps it is because we know implicitly that the time we share is temporary, we go to great lengths to enjoy every possible moment.
A Long History
People have lived in tandem with animals for thousands of years. Indeed, animals have been essential to our physical survival as a species. We also thrive emotionally because of the human-animal bond. And we’re not just talking about cats and dogs! We have found a way to dovetail the lives of all sorts of lovely animals into our own lives. Whether it’s an emu, llama, toucan, horse, cow, crow, chicken, or rabbit, the human-animal bond goes deeper than words.
Proof Is In the Pudding
The happiness and peace we feel when near our pets can rival meaningful human relationships. While we provide basic needs to the animals in our lives, the human-animal bond delivers the following benefits without question or delay:
- Mood stability
- Increased activity
- Enhanced healing, trust, and independence
- Decreased stress, anxiety, loneliness, or depression
- Strengthened immunity (kids that grow up with animals are less likely to suffer allergies later in life)
- Improved social connection
The combination of more physical activity, improved mood, and stronger community connections make our blood pressure go down. Plus, simply snuggling or petting an animal promotes dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain (happiness plus relaxation). This makes us more resilient to trauma, expediting healing from traumatic events.
The emotional support people receive from their relationships with animals simply cannot be undervalued. Because animals don’t judge us, the unconditional love they offer bolsters our stability and optimism.
One of the Greatest Gifts
In addition to bringing endless love, humor, and meaning to millions of people, animals are important assets to healthcare systems, the military, police force, and many other private and public organizations. The bond between service animals and their handlers is truly unique. They have the ability to save lives by way of signalling, alerting emergency personnel, and comforting those affected by PTSD and other conditions.
Dynamics of the Human-Animal Bond
Scientific research continues to study and document the impact of the human-animal bond. If you have additional questions or comments about the general sense of well-being your best friend brings every day, give us a call at (404) 633-6163.