The human-animal bond is the documented occurrence of a positive connection established between you and your pet, that benefits both of you.

In addition to providing companionship, numerous studies have documented profound mental and physical health benefits from the bond between people and companion animals. For example, studies indicate that sharing your life with a dog or cat can help reduce blood pressure and reduce levels of stress,[1] and data has found that animals can play a role in managing depression.[2]

Organizations such as the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) Foundation, maintained by Purdue University, advocates for public policies to enable more people and animals to benefit from the positive health benefits of this bond by advancing research and building awareness. The positive impacts of the human animal bond are used by organizations, such as Pet Partners, in programs to improve the physical, emotional and psychological lives of people in need. This includes both animal-assisted activities, such as hospital visits, and animal-assisted therapy, such as pets in the use of physical therapy.

To learn about the documented benefits of pet ownership, click here.

Some ways to strengthen the bond with your cat or dog can include:

  • Regular grooming;
  • Playing games together;
  • Taking your dog with you for regular walks or even jogs, if your dog is physically able; and
  • If and when your dog is comfortable being petted, gentle physical contact.

[1] http://habricentral.org/resources/54783/download/hc_brief_cardio20150807d.pdf

[2] http://habricentral.org/resources/55606/download/hc_brief_depression20160127access.pdf