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Is It True Love? Science Says Yes

For pet owners comes great news, albeit something they probably already felt anyway: a new Japanese study suggests that when dogs and their caretakers gaze into each others eyes, there is a distinct chemistry happening. The study indicated that when such visual exchanges occur, there are definite hormonal increases normally consistent with feelings of affection. Knowing that should put to rest your concerns that your best friend is simply, silently hoping that you will pop open the treat box or get out the walk leash.

The study showed that levels of oxytocin, a biochemical associated with feelings of social bonding, trust and even love, rose significantly in their 30 test subjects. Both the dog owners and their dogs were required to pee in a cup for the hormone level tests to be successfully performed. The results were surprising; oxytocin levels were appreciably high. What’s even more interesting, when the scientists injected oxytocin into the dogs directly, the pets gazed into their owners’ eyes even more intently.

Apparently, as dogs evolved from seeing humans as viable options for a meal, to becoming closer to us, it was the development of oxytocin in their system that made the difference. Interestingly, when the same tests were administered to wolves, even those who had been raised as pups by humans, the result was not the same at all; oxytocin levels did not increase.

One theory is that doggie forefathers, once recognizing that humans have tender feelings for our young, somehow learned to mimic that eye to eye behavior, thus ensuring our protection. As time went on, their own bio-systems evolved with increasing levels of oxytocin.

However it came to be, when your doggy buddy gazes back at you with those adorable eyes, you can feel good knowing that the feelings you are perceiving in their eyes are real.