Did you hear? It is a scientific fact that your dog loves you!
How can that be proven? Before we get into that, let me refresh your memory on what oxytocin is. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone….it is basically what makes you happy, relieves your stress, and causes you to care about other people. It is also associated with nurturing and caring for your own children. When you are being social, your oxytocin levels increase somewhere between 10%-50% depending on whether you are interacting with a stranger or your own son.
I’m sure you (you dog lover, you!) will not be surprised to learn that when you are petting your believed pup (or kitty cat!) your oxytocin levels increase. I don’t think you need an official laboratory study to know that you think of your pets as children…but the fact your body biologically reacts with that same oxytocin rush whether you and loving on your human child or your canine one scientifically proves it! This is easily tested by taking a blood sample, playing with a dog, taking another blood sample…and then comparing the different levels of oxytocin in the two separate samples. (Technology today!)
With me so far? Ok – here is where it gets really cool. Paul Zak wanted to see if the same thing happened in “cross-species animals”. So he found this dog who had a goat for a friend. (Seriously, I would love to read an article just on that!) Anyway….he did the same tests that he had done on humans – take blood samples, let the two friends play, and then take more blood.
The pooch had a 48% increase in oxytocin – scientifically proving that the goat and dog were indeed friends. The goat had a 210% increase! This scientifically proves that the goat was, in fact, in love with the dog! I love it!
While this may not sound like a big deal – it TOTALLY is. I personally am sick and tired of people telling me that dogs do not feel emotions like we do. I don’t care what scientific jargon you spew at me – I will never believe this! Maybe Buffy doesn’t feel “guilt” like I feel “guilt”….but I do not believe that she is incapable of complex feelings. If scientists have used the presents of oxytocin in humans to explain things like love (it helps couples feel intimacy and encourages attachment), motherhood (it helps moms bond with new babies), and generosity (it helps us feel compassion and the need to help other people)…they cannot deny that the presences of this same molecule in our canine counterparts proves dogs (any domesticated animal, really) have a deeper feelings when they look at us humans.
So the next time you tell someone your dog loves you, and they give you some snarky comeback like “He loves that you feed him every night” or “Those treats that you give her…that’s what she REALLY loves”…you can condescendingly roll your eyes as you chuckle and explain that they must not have read the most recently scientific studies pertaining to oxytocin levels in cross-species interactions.
“My dog loves me. It’s a scientific fact.”