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Man's best friend 'capable of love'

Wednesday April 30th 2014

Dogs truly are capable of loving their owners, research suggests.

Scientists from the United States have found that domesticated animals release oxytocin - also known as the 'love hormone' - in intimate situations. It is the same chemical that is used to create close bonds between humans, and means man's best friend isn't just in it for the food.

Lead researcher Professor Paul Zak and his colleagues from the Claremont Graduate University in California measured the levels of oxytocin released when pets interacted with both other animals and humans.

In one instance, a domestic mixed-breed terrier and a goat were placed together in an enclosure where they played together for 15 minutes. Blood samples showed that the dog had a 48% increase in oxytocin, indicating it was attached to the goat, while the goat itself had a 210% increase in oxytocin, suggesting it may have been in love with the dog.

Prof Zak says such a dramatic surge in oxytocin in humans only usually occurs when a person sees their loved one, is romantically attracted to someone or is the recipient of an enormous act of kindness.

He claims pets may therefore genuinely feel love for their owners, reciprocating the feelings shown towards them.

Pet Insurance is just one way that owners show how much they love their pets, making sure they get the best possible treatment.

Copyright Press Association 2014