Therapeutic effects of the animal human bond

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Witthaya Phonsawat

Witthaya Phonsawat

“A pet is a medication without side effects that has so many benefits. I can’t always explain it myself, but for years now I’ve seen how instances of having a pet is like an effective drug. It really does help people.”

Dr. Edward Creagan
Oncologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

It has been proven time and again through studies published in influential medical journals that the human animal bond is a mutually dynamic and beneficial relationship that is like no other. Anyone who has an animal at home and loves them unconditionally does not need to read a journal article to know this, however.

Adopting an animal into the home for both adults and children can be highly therapeutic. It is often prescribed by doctors and is the best medicine, as it does not contain any side effects. The American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) recognizes that this bond as an incredibly therapeutic one that has advantages for everyone in the family.

Purdue University College of Veterinarian Medicine has an entire center dedicated to the animal human bond and studies these relationships. They believe that the bond influences both the psychological and physiological state of the human and of the animal and has proven to have profound physiological consequences. Here are some of the advantages that have been demonstrated through studies:

  • Decrease in anxiety
  • Lowered stress levels
  • Increase in happiness
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Decreased depression

It has been demonstrated that children who learn to care for animals tend to grow up to be more nurturing and often better parents themselves. For the elderly isolated in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices, there is documented therapeutic value. These people tend to be increasingly happy and healthier, even if they are terminal, when they are around animals.

The Society for Animal Companion Studies recognizes that many families who have animals, often see them as an intricate and valued member of the family.  People gain very strong attachments to their animals and the companionship and unconditional love they share is priceless.

Even doctors including general practitioners, psychologists, counselors, occupational therapists and veterinarians know of the influence animals play in the lives of humans and in their recovery from surgery or illness.

Families who foster, adopt or give animals forever homes know the incredible amount of comfort, joy and happiness that animals offer and vice versa. Especially in troubles times, animals can provide a kind of therapeutic assistance that no therapist can ever offer.  Animals are irreplaceable companions. Most research continues to document the value of the human animal bond with every demographic including:

  • Mainstream children (helping with their development)
  • Autistic children
  • Senior citizens
  • Those with mental illness
  • Those with dementia
  • Those with physical impairments
  • Abused people
  • Trauma recovery advocates 100 percent for the rescuing of animals to make as part of the family; however, it is extremely vital to know how to care for an animal before bringing him or her home. They need an adequate amount of love and attention and should not be neglected or overly disciplined (hit or abused).

Animals have nothing to give but unconditional love and they count on the love and care of humans as much as infants do. This is extremely important to remember before adopting or recuing, but we encourage a family who is ready to take on the responsibility and the joy to find the nearest local shelter and find themselves another member of the family!

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