The Importance of the Human-Animal Bond in Newport News

Humans and animals have had thousands of years to develop special bonds, and those bonds continue to evolve. Naturally, it all started with work--humans using dogs for herding and hunting, and cats for rat-catching. But today, people around the world, especially here in the US, mainly keep animals not for work or protection, but for companionship. While our dogs and cats look to us for their essential needs, we humans look to our pets for comfort. Research has shown that having a pet and spending time with them can do remarkable things for a person’s physical and emotional well- being, like reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and raise oxytocin levels in the blood.

Here at Colony Animal Hospital in Newport News, we recognize and embrace the human-animal bond as a mutually beneficial and multifaceted relationship, one that is “influenced by behaviors essential to the health and well-being of both.” We consider it not just our goal, but our responsibility, to maximize the potential and longevity of this bond for all our clients and patients.

man and old cat: real love - have faith in / trusting - back-lit

Improving the Bond You Share with Your Pet

The human-animal bond is not just important for individual people and animals, but for whole communities--and society--overall.

For the coming year, why not plan to start things off right with your pet? Is there anything you’d like
to do differently? Do you want to be more active, or take time to slow down and enjoy the little things with your pet at your side? Because pet ownership has proven to be so beneficial to our well- being, it really is in our best interest to make good use of the time we have with our companions-- especially now!
Here are some ideas for bonding with your pet and spending more quality time together:

  • Regular walks: It’s easy to fall into a slump of inactivity, but don’t let it become a habit! You and your pet will both feel happier and healthier when you get regular exercise. Try to go at least once a day for 20-30 minutes.
  • Routine playtime: Both dogs and cats need 20-30 minutes of play (indoors or outdoors) each day to stay occupied and engaged. Playtime lets them burn off energy and can help them stay trim, too.
  • Snuggle sessions: Cuddling up with your pet is a great way to bond, and who could say no to some cozy time with a furry family member? Plus, you can use this time to give your pet some ear scratches or chin rubs.
  • Grooming: Even just brushing your pet every other day can help to bring you closer, and there’s the added (and important) benefit of keeping their coat soft and healthy. With practice, some pets can get used to home baths and nail trims, too! It’s a great way to build trust with your pet. Just make sure not to force it if they’re uncomfortable, and speak with your vet if you need advice.
  • Routine health checkups: If your dog or cat is due for their yearly health checkup, be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as you can. Even the healthiest and most active pets need to be screened and protected so they can stay in the best shape for as long as possible!
  • Dog training classes: Even if your dog already knows all the basic commands, it might not be a bad idea to pursue further training that will provide them with mental and physical stimulation. What’s more, training can deepen the human-animal bond and improve your ability to communicate with and understand your pet.
Man's hands holding paws of a young puppy. Close-up, indoor. Day light. Concept of care, education, obedience training, raising pets

Why Pets are Needed More than Ever

Animals have truly been a lifesaver to us humans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social isolation can take a serious toll on our physical and emotional well-being, regardless of circumstances. With a pet by your side, you have a companion, a sense of purpose, and more things to do to fill up your day. The comfort of a pet is a very special thing and demonstrates how important animals are to our lives, and to our society as a whole. As much as our pets need us, it’s fair to say that we are also learning just how much we need them. It’s no wonder, then, that pet adoptions and foster applications have soared in 2020.

If you do not currently have a pet in your life, consider adopting from a local rescue or fostering an animal in need if you have the resources. There’s nothing more rewarding! For some helpful information about pet care, click here.