Love is in the Air: The Science of Our Love for Pets
Do you love your pets? Of course, we all do. We feel it when our smiling, wagging dog meets us at the door after a long day, or when our kitty jumps up into our lap for a snuggle on the couch. Those warm fuzzies make us happy, and what’s more, studies show that there are real emotional and physical benefits to our love for pets.
Do you ever wonder if they love us back? Thankfully, scientists have been interested in the relationship between pets and humans for a long time. In addition to the benefits for humans, there have been numerous scientific studies that have looked at pets loving us. The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital delved deeper into this question, and we know you can’t wait to see what we found out!
Our Love for Pets
Humans and pets have a long history together, reaching back to the domestication of dogs and cats. Studies show that humans have reduced anxiety, feel less lonely, and are happier when we have pets. And, not only that, blood pressure can actually go down with the act of petting a dog or cat. What’s more, owning a pet can be great for increasing our own physical activity, especially if we are regularly running with or walking our dogs.
…And They Love Us! The Science of the Love Hormone
Some call oxytocin the “love hormone” because of its importance in human bonding. It seems that dogs have hijacked this important neural feedback loop. In one study, scientists found that both dogs and humans had a spike in oxytocin when gazing into each other’s eyes. So, that look of love that your dog gives you is real!
Scent of the Familiar
In another study, scientists trained dogs to sit still in an MRI and measured their brain activity when presented with different scents. The area of the dogs’ brains associated with positive reward lit up like Christmas when presented with the smell of their owners, and did not show such activity with other scents. The results seem to indicate that dogs clearly know the importance of their owners in their lives.
Your Cat Does Love You
Some would believe that cats don’t love their humans like dogs do, but cat owners can rejoice with current findings that tell otherwise! In a study at Oregon State University, over 50% of the cats preferred human interaction to food, scent, and toys. There was no difference between family household cats and cats living in a shelter, showing that love of humans is deeply inbred in our kitties, and not just a product of their living situation.
As if you needed more reasons to love your pet! There are only a few listed here, and we think it’s fascinating to learn how pets show their love for us, too. So, what do you think? Does your pet love you? Give us a call to let us know how they show it. We bet you have some great stories!
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