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Do Beloved Dogs Raise Oxytocin As Much As Loved People?

Could playing with the dog make you as happy as spending time with a baby or loved one? It seems possible according to a new study of 55 dog owners and their pets. The test examined oxytocin (aka, the "love drug"), the chemical found to lessen stress and depression in humans when related to babies and romantic partners, to see if social contact between two different species could boost levels as well.
For this lab session, the pairs of pet-plus-person were divided into three groups: Long gaze – locked eyes with pets for an average of 2.5 minutes during the session; short gaze – locked eyes with pets for less than 45 seconds on average, and a control group – avoiding the gaze of pets altogether. Measuring oxytocin before and after found that, lo and behold, levels rose by more than 20 percent during the long-gaze play session. Get the rest of the story when you


Since eye contact is a good proxy for the bond between owner and dog, biologist Takefumi Kikusui, of Azuba University in Japan found this flood of oxytocin could explain why looking at and playing with dogs can lift moods and improve mild symptoms of anxiety or depression. In fact, those who re-create this unknowingly in their own homes tend to rate relationships with pets as more satisfying than short-gaze owners . . . and to think I thought I only liked to stare at North 'cause he's just so adoro!


Join The Conversation
wren1 wren1 7 years
Aww, skigurl, your comment made me cry. I know i'll feel the same. I love my dog more than anything.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
i definitely loved my dog more than a lot of people...and when he died it was the saddest day of my life - sadder than when some people i've known have died...might sound weird, but it's true.
esmerb esmerb 8 years
I know my oxytocin levels go out the roof when I see doggies and especially when I see my babies...
eastcoastgirl eastcoastgirl 8 years
I totally believe this I always look forward to seeing my sweeties.I totally agree!
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
No big surprise to me. Nox always make my bad days good when I get home and she is just purring up a storm because I'm home.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 8 years
I concur! :-) :dog: I love my animals and they always make me happy.
Katydid620 Katydid620 8 years
Absolutely!!! When I am away from my pooch, there is nothing better then when you get home and they are SO happy to see you! She just ALWAYS puts a smile on my face.
ladyr ladyr 8 years
I'm not surprised at all! Like Aphrosette said, pet owners already knew this.
Aphrosette Aphrosette 8 years
well this isn't news...I mean any pet owner knows this, not to mention just owning a pet adds years to your life...Happy years!!
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