The Significance of International Human-Animal Bond Day
Wednesday, November 8th is International Human Animal Bond Day. Animals can provide rewarding relationships for their human caretakers. Our pets always seem to know when we are in need of extra love and companionship. Let’s explore the ways in which the human, animal bond works, as well as tools to strengthen the bond you have with your pet.
The Strong Bond Between Dogs and Their Humans
Scientists around the world have studied the human-animal bond. Not surprisingly, one of the most commonly studied human-animal bonds is between the dog & their human. Dogs form attachment to their humans, similar to what a human infant does to their parents. When dogs are near their familiar humans, their bodies produce less stress hormones, and outwardly appear more relaxed.
Understanding the Human-Feline Connection
The human-feline bond has not been studied as often as the human-dog bond. Scientists have found that cats are able to form attachment bonds to their humans, similar to the infant-parent, and canine-human bond. When cats are placed in new, stressful environments, with their human, they exhibit less stress signals than felines without their familiar humans in a new environment. Cats are unusual because unlike dogs, they retain some primitive behaviors. They are able to hunt and reproduce outdoors, yet those who have had positive human interactions will seek out human attention. The cats who seek out human attention display patterns of vocalization very different from their feral counterparts. This indicates the desire of cats to communicate with humans.
Benefits of Pet Ownership for Humans
Not only do pets benefit from having a caring owner, there are many benefits of animal ownership for humans. Having a pet gives a sense of purpose to a person, a reason to get out of bed and care for the pet. Dogs especially get the owners out of the house, exercising and meeting new people. Decreased stress, loneliness and isolation, and increased exercise, obviously benefits owners. Studies show pet owners experience a lower rate of heart disease and strokes. Dogs with specialized training can provide a variety of support, from a lifeline to veterans with PTSD to guidance for the blind. Studies have shown owning any pet, whether it be a small animal or a dog, increases the social development of children on the Autism Spectrum.
Specialized Support and Social Development
The human, animal bond is special, and beneficial to both humans and pets. There are several ways we can improve the bond we share with our pets. Provide physical and mental stimulation through play. However, just relying on a shared, skilled activity is not enough. Studies have shown working dogs do not have strong attachment to their handlers unless there is also positive emotional interaction. Brush your dog, let the cat snuggle on your lap. Take the time to understand a pet’s behavioral cues and preferences. Cats will spend more time interacting with a person who allows the cat to approach the human first, rather than someone who seeks out, or chases a cat. Pets who have inappropriate urination or defecation in the home, as well as those with destructive behaviors are trying to communicate a need, not retaliate against you.
For Health and Behavioral Concerns, Contact Us
As always, if you have any health or behavioral concerns for your pet, please reach out to Wags and Whiskers Veterinary Service. We love your pets. We want each and every one of them to experience the gratification of bonding with you, their owner. Happy International Human Animal Bond Day! Go love on your furbabies.