February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day. In honor of this occasion let us look at the emotional bond we have with our pets, specifically dogs. In 2015, a study was published by Takefumi Kikusui regarding the effects of oxytocin on the bond between humans and dogs. The findings were quite interesting, as they only prove that our love for our pets goes beyond our thinking. It is also on a biological level.
Oxytocin is considered the “love hormone.” According to Psychology Today, “It influences social interaction…playing a role in behaviors from maternal attachment to an infant…” The study found that oxytocin increases in both the dog and the human when we (guardian and pet) stare into each other’s eyes. In the animal kingdom, eye contact can be threatening but the study showed us the complete opposite between our species. This suggests a stronger bond than the researchers expected but also helps us understand how dogs may have helped in their own domestication.
Do you feel love when you look at your pet? I know I do! These are my brats (I mean pets): Beverly (black/white coonhound mix), Jorge (red dachshund), Pancho (chocolate dachshund), Mia (beagle/dachshund mix), and Sophie (calico). I love them all to pieces.
Note: My cat doesn’t love looking into my eyes. I wouldn’t call it love… more like she just tolerates me.