How to Develop a Healthy Human-Animal Bond

Assistance Animal Consulting believes that the human-animal bond is essential for working with service and support animals. With that in mind, today we want to discuss the human-animal bond and why a healthy bond between patients and the animals that support them is so important.

According to the AMVA: "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 wellbeing of both. This includes, among other things, emotional, psychological, and physical interactions of people, animals, and the environment. The veterinarian's role in the human-animal bond is to maximize the potentials of this relationship between people and animals."

Anyone who has owned a support animal or pet probably doesn't need science to tell them the bond between them and their animal is special. Animals can sense when our mood changes, and have the ability to share peacefulness and joy that compares to close human relationships in our lives. They also provide several other health benefits including - stress reduction, increased independence, more physical activity, immunity support, social connection, and more.

The importance of the human-animal bond knows no bounds. Whether you own a pet or not, animal companionship can help keep us healthy and improve our quality of life at any age. For example, with children, a strong human-animal bond can help them decrease social anxiety and even increase positive social behaviors leading to better social integration. With the help of a strong human-animal bond, children can develop into their best selves. Children can learn to provide care for another, and learn more about the importance of routines and responsibility. Research indicates that the health benefits of the human-animal bond can have a positive impact on every stage of life. Pet ownership can help keep us healthy and improve quality of life as we age. For instance, taking care of a pet can help reduce loneliness and increase our feelings of self-worth. For many, pets provide a sense of meaning and order to our lives particularly for those whose other social interactions have declined. Animals can provide emotional support. Research shows they can buffer our response to stress. Self-report data has also reliably shown that pet owners rate their social support system and quality of life higher than non-pet owners.

The human-animal bond has been studied for decades, and the research is clear: the more you take care of your pet's health, the more your pet takes care of you. Dr. Rhesa Houston, the founder of Assistance Animal Consulting is an AMVA Human-Animal Bond Certified Veterinarian. She understands the necessity of building a healthy bond to maximize the health and well-being of patients and support animals. If you would like more information on how to develop a healthy human-animal bond consider a consultation. We can even collaborate with your mental health professional by providing documented best practices from research studies and animal-assisted intervention strategies that have proven to be meaningful, valuable and helpful in improving health outcomes. We would love to hear about your experiences with your pets or the service animal in your life. Feel free to join us on our Assistance Animals Forum to share your experience or questions with us.

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