Yes, Your Pets Do Feel Love…

470_2794768If you’ve ever seen two bonded cats cuddle in a sunny window or your dogs chase each other around in the backyard, you have no doubt: Your pets love each other as much as you love them. And now science is backing it up.

Inspired by a sad moment saying goodbye to his dying dog, scientist and author Paul Zak began to wonder what the biological connections between humans and animals and animals and other animals were.

Research has shown that the human brain releases the chemical oxytocin (sometimes known as “the neurochemical of love”) when we’re treated kindly; its levels rise when you hug a loved one or shake hands with an attractive person. A boost in oxytocin can make you start to care about others, even a total stranger.

Zak wanted to test if the same was true in the relationship between animals and humans and between different animals — and tested all sorts of scenarios. One that caught our eye: interspecies camaraderie. At an Arkansas animal refuge, Zak took a blood sample from both a goat and a terrier that often played with each other. After the two animals horsed around for 15 minutes, Zak took another sample. The result: The dog’s oxytocin levels increased by 48%, and the goat showed a 210% increase. In his tests, Zak had only seen increases like that with people who are in love or romantically attracted to each other, which implies that the goat might actually be “in love” with the dog. (Cue “awww.”)

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