How Your Pet Loves You

You probably already know that your pet loves you, but did you know that research can show you exactly how? Here’s a look at how scientists can prove that your dogs and cats really do love you.

Dogs (and Cats) Can Love

Neurochemical research has shown that the hormone released when people are in love is released in animals in the same intimate circumstances.

I’m not a dog person. I prefer cats. Cats make you work to have a relationship with them, and I like that.

But I have adopted several dogs, caving in to pressure from my kids. The first was Teddy, a rottweiler-chow mix whose bushy hair was cut into a lion mane.

Kids loved him, and he grew on me, too. Teddy was probably ten years when we adopted him. Five years later he had multiple organs failing and it was time to put him to sleep.

When I arrived at the vet, he said I could drop him off. I was aghast. No. I needed to stay with Teddy.

As the vet prepped the syringe to put him to sleep, I started sobbing. The vet gave me a couple minutes to collect myself and say goodbye. I held Teddy’s paw until he died. Honestly, I didn’t think I was that attached.

This experience led me to undertake experiments on animal-human relations to try to understand how animals make us care so much about them.

Biologically, I wanted to know if pets cause the people to release oxytocin, known as the neurochemical of love, and traditionally associated with the nurturing of one’s offspring.

Continue reading here: Dogs (and Cats) Can Love – The Atlantic

Wondering what your cat thinks about when she looks at you? Here’s a look at the different ways cats and dogs look at humans.

What Do Cats Think About Us? You May Be Surprised

Since cats first got their adorable claws into us about 9,500 years ago, humans have had a love affair with felines.

Today more than 80 million cats reside in U.S. homes, with an estimated three cats for every dog on the planet.

Yet there’s still a lot we don’t know about our feline friends—including what they think of their owners.

John Bradshaw is a cat-behavior expert at the University of Bristol and the author of the new book Cat Sense.

After observing pet cats for several years, he’s come to an intriguing conclusion: They don’t really understand us the way dogs do.

Bradshaw recently shared some of his insights with National Geographic.

How did you get into cat behavior?

For the first 20 years of my career I studied olfactory [smell] behavior in invertebrates.

I’ve always been fascinated by this other world that animals live in—primarily of odor, which is dogs’ primary sense. So in the early 1980s I started working on dog behavior.

[Later] I very quickly became fascinated with cats, and what their idea of the world is compared to the one we have.

Read more here: What Do Cats Think About Us? You May Be Surprised

Want to know what goes on inside your dog’s head? Read on to find out what brains scans can tell us about our dog’s thoughts towards us.

Brain Scans Reveal What Dogs Really Think of Us

In the 30,000 years humans and dogs have lived together, man’s best friend has only become a more popular and beloved pet.

Today, dogs are a fixture in almost 50% of American households.

From the way dogs thump their tails, invade our laps and steal our pillows, it certainly seems like they love us back.

But since dogs can’t tell us what’s going on inside their furry heads, can we ever be sure?

Actually, yes.

Thanks to recent developments in brain imaging technology, we’re starting to get a better picture of the happenings inside the canine cranium.

That’s right — scientists are actually studying the dog brains. And what the studies show is welcome news for all dog owners: Not only do dogs seem to love us back, they actually see us as their family.

It turns out that dogs rely on humans more than they do their own kind for affection, protection and everything in between.

The most direct dog brain-based evidence that they are hopelessly devoted to humans comes from a recent neuroimaging study about odor processing in the dog brain.

Animal cognition scientists at Emory University trained dogs to lie still in an MRI machine and used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to measure their neural responses to the smell of people and dogs, both familiar and unknown.

Because dogs navigate the world through their noses, the way they process smell offers a lot of potential insight into social behavior.

Read more: Brain Scans Reveal What Dogs Really Think of Us – Mic

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