This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to love and romance. Whether you feel like celebrating Saint Valentine as a legitimate holiday, or scoff at the idea, there is no denying that the relationships humans hold with animals are very real. The science of the love of animals is an interesting topic, and here at Vaughn Road Veterinary Clinic, we couldn’t think of a better time to dive into it.
If you are reading this, chances are that you are among the crowd that knows how happy a pet can make a person. This isn’t just all speculation, though. Turns out, the science of the love of animals is very real.
The Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine have shown that interacting with animals can release oxytocin in our bodies. Oxytocin is the hormone that helps us feel happy and bonded with one another and, apparently, our pets as well.
Having a bond with an animal can lead to real benefits. Researchers studying the human-animal bond have shown that people who interact with animals have:
- Lower blood pressure
- Less anxiety
- Decreased stress levels
- Lower rates of clinical depression
- Better overall cardiovascular health
Real Relationships and the Science of Love of Animals
There are so many ways that humans might interact with animals. Several people depend on pets of a variety of species as therapy animals. Pets have been shown to help humans deal with a certain conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Senior citizens may experience better cognitive function when they have interactions with animals, and children benefit in the form of mental development, decreased allergies, and a better sense of empathy.
Then, of course, there are actual service animals who may help their owners navigate obstacles, such as vision- or hearing-impairment, seizure disorders, and anxiety.
Pets provide many things for the people who care for them. Many of the benefits we reap from our animal friends stem from:
- A source of unconditional love
- A sense of responsibility for another living being
- Their uncanny ability to detect our feelings
- A sense of connection to something beyond ourselves
Pet therapy is a very real thing, and is now accepted by the medical community when it comes to keeping people healthy and happy. The science of the love of animals is an important part of well-being for our pets and for us.
So, when it comes to Valentine’s Day this year, you might consider choosing a four-legged Valentine instead of a two-legged one. They give the best kisses anyway!
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call us.