The Pet-Human Connection: How to Show Love to Your Pets This Valentine’s Day
With Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, many of us are busy planning dates with our significant others. But romantic love is not the only love worth celebrating this February—there are many more relationships that enrich our lives and make us better people. And one that is often forgotten during this holiday is the simple, pure, and unconditional love our pets have for us.
The human-pet bond is one that has stood the test of time. What started centuries ago as a mutually beneficial relationship has evolved into a deeper, emotional bond. Where humans once chose to get dogs to herd livestock, provide protection for homes, or help hunt for food, we now choose to welcome dogs into our lives for no other reason than companionship.
We have books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and statues of canines in nearly every country in the world celebrating their heroism and loyalty. This begs the question: why were dogs given the title of “man’s best friend” over all other domestic animals?
Naturally Elevates Dopamine and Serotonin Levels
Studies suggest that simply running your hands through a pet’s fur is correlated to elevated natural dopamine and serotonin levels which are instrumental in helping us cope with stress and anxiety. As a result, researchers have observed that, during the pandemic, pet caregivers tend to be less susceptible to depression than non-pet owners.
The soothing effect of pet caregiving is supported by pre-pandemic data. Even the most hardened criminals were softened once they were given dogs to take care of inside the correctional facility. The assumption is that the “feel good” hormones significantly reduce aggressive behaviors even among naturally assertive individuals.
Dogs are Particularly Adept at Reading and Understanding Human Emotions
Another critical benefit of taking care of a pet, particularly dogs, is that they’re highly attuned to human emotions. There is even some early evidence that dogs might actually understand human language.
This makes animals particularly suited to become emotional support for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. In fact, there are 200,000 active emotional support dogs in the United States alone.
This doesn’t even include the service animals required by people with a disability, such as mobility assistance dogs, seizure alert dogs, and guide dogs.
Forces Caregivers to Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
Once a family or individual adopts or buys a pet, one of the main observations is that their lifestyle takes an immediate change, typically for the better. Dogs, in particular, need regular activity, and this requirement obliges caregivers to exercise with them.
While it’s true that caregivers don’t actually have to exercise with their dogs, the statistics point to the fact that most choose to do it anyway, resulting in improved cardiovascular health caregivers as compared to non-pet owners.
The need to take of pets who typically live routinary lifestyles also help a lot in building positive habits. Especially for individuals in a work-from-home set-up, dog walks often replace the morning and evening commutes that demarcate the beginning and the end of the workday, respectively.
Promotes Positive Social Interactions
One of the most important benefits of the human-animal relationship is the constant companionship pets provide for their caregivers. People, especially those who are isolated and lonely, get a sense of companionship from pets. Seniors who don’t typically have a lot of settings to socialize, for example, can get some of their companionship needs met by a service animal.
A pet’s benefit to its caregiver’s social life isn’t isolated in cases of the elderly and those who can’t socialize normally. Even outgoing people can benefit from having pets too. They can be social lubricants too. Walking and exercising pets around the community typically increases the chances of caregivers meeting new people. The regularity of these walks also helps in maintaining these newfound relationships.
The American Family Unit and Their Pets
The American family unit is perhaps uniquely positioned to understand the benefits of having a pet in the house truly means, as approximately 70% of the households in the nation report having a companion animal. Even families and homeowners who didn’t have a pet understand the value of having one, as evidenced by the uptick of pet adoption during the forced isolation amid the pandemic.
Share The Love with Your Pets This Valentine’s
So, this February, maybe we can do more for our beloved pets than just leaving them a bone from the doggy bag. Here are a couple of ways that we can show them some love this season:
Some Quality Time
While having a nice dinner out with your significant other might sound like a nice reprieve, maybe some home-cooking might also scratch that itch for good food. This way, your Valentine’s Day can truly be with your loved ones.
Like with your partner, something you made yourself will be more appreciated than store-bought gifts. So, why not make your own treats for your beloved pets this time around. There are plenty of custom recipes on the internet that you can tailor around precisely what your pet likes.
As pet caregivers, we control what our pets take in for nutrition. In essence, we have control over their overall health and longevity. So, why not gift them with proper and complete nutrition with tailored holistic supplements? This way, you’ll be able to give them the quality of life they so deserve.