Mutual Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond
Mutual Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the humans and animal bond is a mutually-beneficial and a dynamic one. It is also pivotal for the physiological and psychological well-being of both participants. This connection has been present for centuries and it is essential for the community as a whole, as explained by the Association.
To that end, this article focuses on finding what makes this relationship so unique, advantageous, and healthy.
The Role of Animals in Our Lives
Without doubt, both domestic and wild animals have been a pivotal aspect of human culture for a long period of time and they are necessary to our survival because of our interconnectedness. In addition to being an economic resource, animals are known to be important for our happiness, health, entertainment, and overall quality of life. A lot of domestic animals like dogs and cats play a protective role, but they are known to be excellent companions, co-workers, and benefactors too. As a result of the time people and animals have spent together since the beginning of mankind, they have developed unique relationships and nowadays, there is a wide array of domesticated animals that become equal members of the family taking care of them.
Why Are Pets Good for Us?
Statistics shows that 37 percent of U.S. households have a dog whereas 32 percent have a cat. Though pet owners are familiar with the satisfying gut feeling when their dog greets them or when their cat purrs, these days, mounting scientific data has proven why people feel so much better when they are spending time with their pets. Here are examples of this evidence:
- Reduce negative stress
According to a study done by the Kean University in Union, New Jersey, people felt calmer and happier after watching a Lassie movie due to the significant reduction in the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone. Petting an animal, as seen on Animal Smart, does not just lower stress, but it increases the oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter which betters the overall mood, as noted by Lisa A. Remorenko.
- Prolong our lives
A study by the University of Minnesota which lasted for a decade found that people who had a cat experienced a 40 percent reduction in death from heart attacks than the participants without a pet. This is probably because of the cats’ purring. Namely, even though they usually purr when they are feeling good and are happy, sometimes, they purr when they need to calm down. Therefore, in a way, the cat’s purring has a relaxing effect on the family members too.
- Better our social skills
A study led by the University of Kansas showed that children aged 7 to 14 who lived together with a pet had an increase in their competitiveness and self-esteem. What’s more, animals are more and more included in assisting children who have been witnesses of violence or who have been abused or neglected with the goal to calm them down and help them open up, speak more about what they have gone through, and begin the period of healing.
- Regulate the cholesterol and blood pressure
Research indicates that pet owners are more physically active and spend more time exercising and in the outdoors. They regulate their blood pressure and cholesterol levels by talking to their pets, doing different activities together, petting them, and allowing them to stimulate their senses, all of which have a relaxing effect.
- Beneficial for those with autism or learning problems
Autistic people or people who have some learning difficulty can be encouraged to participate and communicate with the outside world more frequently. Namely, studies have concluded that uncommunicative children who live in their own world become more interested about the outside world and express emotions they have not previously felt after getting a pet, as emphasized by Marie Carter.
- Aid the reduction of loneliness
As explained on Huffington Post, animals are a great way to feel less lonely and this was shown through a study. Namely, the participants who had dogs reported fulfilling social needs by their pets as by their friends and their pets were able to increase their owners’ self-esteem, a feeling of belonging, and a meaningful existence.
How Do Humans Better the Lives of Animals?
- Shelter and food
Adopting a pet, whether it is a dog, a cat, or another animal, means that you take on the responsibility to care for it as you would care for a family member. The animal is placed in a friendly and safe environment where it is protected from the elements, other animals, hunger, and human cruelty. Moreover, we provide food and water and entertainment and ensure they have a quality life.
- Medical help
Without doubt, veterinary medicines are valuable tools enabled by humans that ensure optimal health of animals. We make efforts to minimize pain and enhance their welfare by providing the necessary medications, therapies, and surgical treatments.
- We become vegans or vegetarians
Caring for animals means that one is against animal exploitation and cruelty of every form so a lot of people decide to exclude meat and other animal products from their diet with the goal to reduce their suffering and death.
- We fight against their extinction
Unfortunately, due to some of our foul practices, a lot of animal species have gone extinct. However, a large number of people and organizations fight against extinction of endangered species by donating, fighting off global warming, making appropriate lifestyle changes (leading a more sustainable life), buying recycled products, recycling and reusing, avoiding products from endangered species with tortoise shell, coral, tiger fur, other fur, or ivory, and buying local food and saving energy, as emphasized on Wiki How.
Final Thoughts on the Bond between Humans and Animals
Although humans are considered to be a more advanced species than animals because of our ability to reason, speak, talk, write, and self-reflect (we are able to think about ourselves and about the past, present, and future), we share a long list of similarities. According to Carl Safina’s book, Beyond Words, animals do have thought processes, social connections, and emotions that are crucial to them as they are to us. Same as it is to us, he further explains, life is very vivid to them and it appears rather illogical to think that they do not have a conscious psychological experience of sleeping, loving, fearing, or praying.
All in all, the connection between humans and animals is a reciprocal one; we provide shelter and food, donate to animal sanctuaries, and help them when they are wounded or in distress, and most importantly, we give them our sincere love and nourishment. In return, we receive our pets’ unconditional love, companionship, and friendship, all of which prolong our lives and make them more meaningful and better our physical and mental health on various levels.
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