Monday, April 18, 2016

The Latest Study on Human - Pet Bonding Says You May Be Under a Spell by Valerie Burke

The Latest Study on Human - Pet Bonding Says You May Be Under a Spell

By Valerie Burke

Green Med Info.      5 April 2015

Do you melt when you look into your dog’s eyes? Does your cat have you wrapped around her little fuzzy paws? You’re not alone! New science unlocks the mysteries of human-animal bonding and how our animal companions manipulate us into loving them—for our good and theirs.

People have a long history of living and bonding with domesticated animals. A recent genome study concluded that dogs may have been domesticated as far back as 34,000 years ago.[1]

Today, our animal companions are as beloved as ever with the American pet population expanding from about 40 million cats and dogs in 1967 to more than 114 million in 2012. Roughly two-thirds of US households now include at least one pet.[2]

Not only are pets on the rise, but the significance of our human-animal relationships seems to be deepening. A growing number of young adults are trading in their human partners for the four-legged kind. Many report experiencing greater distress from the loss of a pet than from a breakup.[3] In a recent poll, a surprising 38 percent of dog owners reported loving their pets more than their partners![4]

Our animal companions obviously bring lightness and joy to our lives, but science now reveals they may be bringing much more.

The Magical Healing Powers of Animals

In addition to offering companionship, animals benefit people in a number of different ways. For example, animals have developed special defenses over the millennia to ensure survival in the wild, and some of these have benefits for humankind.

Dog’ saliva has been found to heal wounds due to a protein called Nerve Growth Factor. Human wounds treated with NGF heal twice as quickly as untreated wounds. The purring of a cat can help mend broken bones and soft tissue injuries because they purr at 20 to 50 Hertz, a frequency rangefound to promote tissue healing. And a protein from the venom of the Malayan pit viper is being used in Europe to treat strokes and blood clots.[5]

Even if you don’t own anything as exotic as a Malayan pit viper, your dog or cat may be bringing you an abundance of gifts. Science shows that pet owners are reaping an amazing number of health benefits, including the following:
  • Reduced risk for heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease, and better odds of surviving and recovering from a heart attack, regardless of the severity[6] [7]
  • Better physical fitness and higher levels of activity, overall[8]
  • Improved stress management and coping, reduced risk for depression and anxiety; lower levels of cortisol, and higher levels of “feel good” neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin[9] [10] [11]
  • Less pain and improved quality of life for those suffering from fibromyalgiarheumatoid arthritiscancer and other conditions[12] [13]
  • Fewer allergies, better immune function, and improved health and longevity[14]
  • Higher attractiveness and trustworthiness to others, more social support and reduced isolation[15][16]
  • Early warnings for seizures, cancer, low blood sugar and even death, as animals have sensory abilities reaching far beyond those of humans, making them excellent service companions[17][18]

Pets Reduce Allergies and Help Build Children’s EQ

For children, family pets offer unique benefits, both physically and emotionally. Dogs can forestall the development of allergies in children raised with them.[19] [20] A study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology [21] found exposure to dogs in infancy, especially around the time of birth, can lower a child’s risk for allergies. This effect is so strong that even an expectant mother can reduce the likelihood of her child’s developing allergies by living with a dog.

The emotional benefits are even more profound. Kids who grow up with dogs and cats tend to show greater compassion and empathy, which is referred to as “emotional intelligence” or EQ.

According to kindergarten teachers, EQ is the strongest predictor of a child’s success in school, even more so than reading or writing skills. Caring for a pet teaches children compassion, self-esteem, and responsibility for the care of another, as well as improving cognitive skills, mitigating stress, and numerous other benefits.[22] [23] [24]

Children with autism are sometimes better able to interact with animals, and this may actually improve their ability to interact with people. Science shows cats are especially helpful to autistic children, increasing their social interactivity and improving communication skills, tactile and eye contact, smiling and laughter.[25]

Oxytocin Creates Friends with Benefits

Why do cats and dogs hold this almost-magical power over humans? Recent discoveries are beginning to provide an answer: hormones.

A recent groundbreaking study was the first to identify a hormonal bonding effect between humans and other species, which may help to explain how dogs became domesticated thousands of years ago.[26] According to the study, when your dog looks into your eyes, he activates the same hormonal response as an infant. The mutual gazing between dogs and their owners triggers the release of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” in the same positive feedback loop as in a mother and newborn.

Of the duos who spent the greatest amount of time gazing into each other’s eyes, male as well as female dogs experienced a 130 percent rise in oxytocin levels, and both male and female owners showed a 300 percent increase.[27]

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Anonymous said...

Good job on this thank you for sharing

Anonymous said...

Many days I would rather live with animals.


Stranger in a Strange Land said...

I do understand, dear Maggie.

Kindest & warmest regards,

Stranger in a Strange Land said...

You are very welcome Martin.

Kindest regards,

jeankeisha williams said...

I wish I would have found your blog years ago keep up the great work love peace and light

Stranger in a Strange Land said...

You are very welcome Jean..

Thanks for your kind words,