Big news people — our pets DO love us!
Scientists at the Claremont Graduate University discovered that domestic pets, when in an affectionate situation, release oxytocin just like people. Also known as the ‘love hormone,’ oxytocin is the chemical released when people see a loved one or experience a pleasant feeling. The fact that this same chemical is present in our pets implies that they, in fact, genuinely enjoy being around us.
For the study, Professor Paul Zak took a blood sample from both a dog and a goat that had formed a bond during their time together at the animal refuge. The blood was taken in order to measure the various chemicals present in the blood. Zak took one blood sample right away to act as the control, and then let the dog and goat play together as they typically do. After playing, Zak took another sample, measuring the increase in oxytocin levels. The results of his study may surprise you.
Zak found that the oxytocin levels in the dog had increased 48%, showing that the dog took a fair amount of enjoyment in playing with his goat buddy, considering him as a friend, on a purely chemical level.
The surprising bit is how the goat reacted. “It had a 210% increase in oxytocin,” said Zak. “The only time I have seen such a surge in oxytocin in humans is when someone sees their loved one, is romantically attracted to someone, or is shown an enormous kindness.”
So, while the dog clearly enjoyed the goats company, the goat may have been looking for something a little more serious.
While these percentages are only a reflection on the relationship these two animals feel for each other, the fact that their oxytocin levels change at all after experiencing something we would equate to pleasure proves that our pets are capable of experiencing joy in much the same way as we do.
And they call it…puppy love.