cat mom hugging her fur baby

At Bayside, we love your pets as much as you do, and we’ve been doing some digging to help explain how those deep, loving bonds are formed. Do our pets feel the human animal connection as deeply as we do?! We’ve learned a lot on our journey and, to no surprise, discovered that 68% of US households are home to a pet (including four-, two, or no-legged varieties).

While cats and dogs are by far the most common choices for household companions—in studies and here in the clinic—it got us thinking: What is it about our furry friends that keep us coming back for more? And how important is the connection with pets to our health?

Fun Pet Statistics

a brown dog in red heart sunglasses
  • $72.1 billion is spent on pets, in a year! Pet owners are anticipated to spend this amount on food, medicines, vet visits, grooming, and more.
  • 70% of pet owners sleep with their fur babies at least part of the time.
  • 65% of pets receive holiday gifts from their families.
  • 23% of pets get home-cooked meals!

But the relationship between humans and animals hasn’t always looked the way it does today. Thousands of years ago, our prehistoric forefathers weren’t likely to be cooking Fido a fresh meal. So let’s take a quick look at how we got to the loving human-pet relationships we all look forward to at the end of a long, hard day.

A Little Human-Animal History

girl laying on her dog--pet care and love

Bayer has reported that the human-animal connection has been changing and evolving for centuries. Over time, certain animals began to provide services to people—from protecting livestock and helping to till the land to providing other necessities, such as milk or wool for clothing. Dogs could be used to herd cattle or sheep, while cats would keep homes and barns free from potentially diseased rodents.

The Modern Animal-Human Connection

man cuddling with his dog--human pet connection

Many times, we may tend to think of our relationships with our fur babies as one-sided. However, new research suggests that they may be able to understand us on much deeper, more human levels than we ever anticipated.

Although most of our pets no longer serve us in tangible ways—although some still do—they provide us with so much more. A number of studies illustrate the positive mental, physical, and emotional benefits of pet ownership. Here are just a few of our favorites!

  1. Boost brain health. A University of Michigan study on the ‘pet effect’ indicated that pet-owning participants over the age of 65, when signs of dementia usually begin to show, had better short- and long-term memory for words.
  2. Reduce stress! Even though we worry about our pets’ health and well-being, just having them around can help lower our cortisol levels. Chronic stress can lead to increased instances of anxiety and depression, as well as digestive upset, headaches, high blood pressure, and more.
  3. Improve heart health. Years of research into health and pet ownership have concluded that having a furry friend (especially a dog) at home can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease in adults of all ages!
  4. Stay active. Dog owners usually spend about 20 more minutes, per day, walking than those who don’t have a dog. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but over time, it adds up! Even in small doses, a little fresh air and sunshine can make a world of difference if you’re struggling with mental health or basic wellness issues.

Whatever your reason for having one or more pets in your household, it’s important to keep in mind that the human-animal connection is mutually beneficial. While they may need us to feed and shelter them, in return they give us their love and adoration, plus they help us live long healthy lives. That makes our connection with pets of the utmost importance.

The staff at Bayside is here to help you keep your favorite companions healthy for the long haul, too, so you can continue to reap the joys and benefits of having them around. Contact us today to schedule your next wellness visit!