Holiday season with my best friendAndroscoggin Animal Hospital knows how important your pet is to you. Did you realize, though, that the benefits of having an animal in your life go way beyond the companionship you feel?

There are documented benefits of pet ownership and ongoing studies looking at these important relationships. The human-animal bond is a real thing, and something that is bettering the lives of animal lovers everywhere.

Defining the Human-Animal Bond

You probably know that you share a close bond with your animal family members, but it is not an easy thing for most to put into words. There are whole teams, though, dedicated to investigating and expanding our understanding of this bond, and they have defined the relationship for you.

The Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University defines the human-animal bond as “…the dynamic relationship between people and animals that influences the psychological and physiological state of the other”. This means that the relationship between you and the animals in your life benefits both of you in wonderful ways.

How Animals Impact Us

You know how snuggling up with your cat or spending time walking your dog makes you feel, but there are very real and scientifically documented impacts that pet ownership has on us all. It has been shown that people who have contact with animals have:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Reduced anxiety
  • A general sense of well-being
  • Decreased stress
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Improved heart health

Pets have also been shown to help with conditions such as PTSD, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease. They support healthy aging in older individuals, and children who have pets have better cognitive development, tend to be more nurturing, and experience fewer allergies. Animals also can help to support classroom learning.

80 million households in the United States have a pet, meaning that so many of us enjoy the benefits of the human-animal bond. The impacts of this relationship are estimated to save us about $11.7 billion in health care costs annually.

Of course, the benefits we bring to our pets are profound as well. Animals that we care for experience lots of love, good nutrition, and the preventive health care that they might otherwise not receive.

Animals have an enormous impact on us and society, more so that we likely realize. As more and more research emerges, enlightening us regarding the impact of the human-animal bond, it will be interesting to see what other benefits exist. Regardless of the research, as an animal lover you can attest to the wonderful ways your pet enriches your life.