By: Dr. Al Townshend
According to a Harris Poll, Americans have always had interesting relationships with their pets. Three in five Americans today (62%) have a pet.
Among Guardians, seven in ten people have a dog (69%), while half have a cat (51%). Out of the Guardians surveyed nine in ten (91%) considered their pet to be a member of their family – a sentiment that remains constant among dog guardians (92%) and cat guardians (91%).
Whether you are 5 or 95, once a pet comes into your life it doesn’t take long before a bond begins to develop that grows stronger and stronger each day.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says, “The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that is influenced by behaviors essential to the health and well-being of both”.
Once a strong bond develops, we commit to doing all we can to provide a long and happy life for our pets. At Pet Planet we no longer refer to those that have pets as owners or even pet parents. Today we consider them as Guardians; people who guard, protect, and preserve their pets.
We commit to making them part of the family and providing our pets:
- With a safe, secure and comfortable environment
- A regular, nutritionally superior diet
- Regular exercise
- Emotional support
- All the love and affection essential for a long and happy life
In turn, it has been well documented that we also receive great and varied benefits from our pets.
- Stress reduction – petting an animal has been shown to reduce stress in humans.
Lowered blood pressure is often the result of the extra exercise and lowered stress that can accompany pet guardianship.
- Increased healing and independence – service and therapeutic animals are invaluable to their handlers, providing help with daily tasks, emotional and mental support, and recovery from traumatic events.
- Improved mood – studies show that the simple act of stroking a friendly animal increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, two chemicals that are essential for happiness and relaxation.
- More physical activity – caring for a pet involves some degree of physical activity, and living with a pet that needs a daily walk or play session is an excellent way to get off the couch and out the door.
- Immunity boost – children who grow up with animals in the home have been shown to have fewer allergies and are less likely to develop asthma than those who aren’t raised with animals.
- Social connections – thanks to their many needs, pets provide us with numerous opportunities to get out and interact with our friends and neighbors.
This is especially helpful for seniors or others who may be less likely to incorporate a social activity into their daily lives.
- Emotional support – pets provide us with impartial, unconditional emotional support and love.
- Improved Cardiovascular health – lower blood pressure and a healthier heart due to increased activity and less stress.
Encouraging the human-animal bond and making pets feel as if they are part of the family is how both you and the pet get the most from the relationship. Below are some thought on assuring the bond:
- Pay attention when you pet your pup!
- Spend quality one-on-one time together.
- Communication is key to having a strong bond.
- Remember that your dog pays more attention to what you do rather than what you say.
- Train your dog every single day!
- Understand your dog’s body language.
- Know your dog’s likes and dislikes
- Keep your cool and be patient
American Veterinary Association
Human-Animal Bond Research Institute