pets and ownersFor the majority of pet owners, our love for our four-legged family members is unconditional. We provide them with everything they need to survive and thrive, shower them with attention, and think about them when we aren’t together. For the most part, we’re pretty sure our pets love us back. From the excited dog who greets us each day to the contented purring of a sweet kitty, most pet owners can cite many ways our pets show us love.

The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center agree that pets and owners love each other, so we delved into the latest scientific research about this remarkable relationship. We relish the opportunity to share our findings with you…

The Chemical Language of Love

Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as “the love hormone” and for good reason. The chemical is produced in our brains when we see someone we love and can increase as much as 40-60% in the presence of a child or beloved spouse.

In one study, researchers found that dogs tend to produce large amounts of oxytocin while playing or interacting with their owners. Studies about cats also show increased levels of the hormone after playing with owners, although not as much as dogs.

Our Cats Prefer Us

Researchers at the University of Oregon put this to the test when they offered 38 cats a choice between food, a toy, a tempting smell, or playtime with a human. Over half the cats chose the human! So, the next time you wonder whether your cat really loves you or just that bowl of kibble you’re holding, you can rest assured that Fluffy is a truly devoted pet.

The Power of Doggie Love

Dogs show their affinity for us in many ways – a wagging tail, snuggles, and pure delight in seeing us every time we walk through the door. But is it love? Studies show that dogs do indeed view humans as their “family,” and unlike other species, they run to their human owner in times of fear, stress, or uncertainty. MRI images reveal the “reward center” of a dog’s brain lights up when it registers the smell of their owner, even amidst a variety of other interesting and exciting scents.

Pets and Owners: An Unbreakable Bond

Science or not, there’s no question that the bond between pets and owners runs deep. If you have any questions or concerns about your four-legged love, please don’t hesitate to contact The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center.