Dogs really do love their owners

by Vivien Richardson on May 9, 2014

Research has suggested that dogs really are a man’s best friend, after scientists found they release the same chemical solution as humans to show love.

According to a study by boffins at a Californian university, dogs and humans that are engaged in close encounters release oxytocin, the chemical that helps us to create closer bonds with each other.

Claremont Graduate University Professor Paul Zak led the team that analysed pet interaction.

One experiment saw Prof Zak look at blood samples taken from a mixed-breed dog and a billy goat that he regularly interacted with.

The blood was taken either side of the animal’s time together, where the study team recorded how the two chased each other, jumped together and played at fighting. The lead scientist said:

“We found that the dog had a 48% increase in oxytocin. This shows that the dog was quite attached to the goat. The moderate change in oxytocin suggests the dog viewed the goat as a ‘friend’.”

There were more surprising results from the analysis of the goat’s blood, with the professor continuing:

“It had a 210 per cent increase in oxytocin. At that level… the goat might have been in love with the dog.”

Zak continued to explain that he had only ever seen such high levels of the naturally produced drug in people experiencing romantic attraction or similar strong emotions.

This shows, Zak said, the possibility that dogs and many other types of pets may well be capable of showing true love for their owners.

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