Updated: Feb 11
Any dog or cat guardian knows: there’s no love like the love of a companion animal. Of course, that love flows both ways!
Does my dog love me? Yes, of course!
The human-dog bond runs incredibly deep! In fact, it is a symbiotic relationship.
A symbiotic relationship is a relationship between 2 different species or organisms where both get some sort of benefit or perk out of being together! You might be familiar with the classic example of a symbiotic relationship: clownfish and anemone.
The anemone provides the clownfish with a home, and protection from danger. The clownfish gives back to the anemone with nutrients, and also makes sure the anemone has protection from danger!
The human-dog bond goes back tens of thousands of years. In the earliest documented examples of humans and dogs bonding, dogs were able to be excellent trackers for humans, helpful hunters, protectors, and they provided warmth. Humans gave back to these essential members of the family with food and security.
As distinguished biologist and anthropologist Colin Groves wrote in The advantages and disadvantages of being domesticated. Perspectives in Human Biology: “Humans domesticated dogs and dogs domesticated humans."
The bond between humans and dogs runs so deep, we have quite literally altered each other’s DNA.
So my dog does love me! And I love my dog!
In humans, a mother staring into an infant's eyes causes that infant to release the hormone oxytocin. As the infant’s oxytocin levels rise, the infant will continue staring, causing the mother’s oxytocin levels to rise, creating a beautiful feedback loop which helps to build that strong emotional bond.
We’d like to make this really clear: we think typical laboratory research on dogs, cats, and other animals is sickening, stupid, and cruel, and whatever results they get from it aren’t worth the suffering they’re inflicting on innocent animals, so we’re not going to share “results” from these kinds of experiments.
Fortunately, there are also some animal-friendly researchers who conduct cruelty-free, fun, noninvasive studies that examine dogs’ emotional response to their human guardians. Guess they just want to prove to the nonbelievers what we already know–we love our animals, and they love us! For example…
Animal behaviorist Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University had been a dog guardian for over 15 years. "I love my dogs, and I always feel that they're more of a partner than a pet. So I started wondering, 'Why are they so close to humans? Why are they connected so tightly to us?'”
Kikusui and his fellow researchers convinced over 30 friends to bring their companion animals to the lab. Urine samples were collected from both the companion animal and their guardian, and then the guardian would interact with their companion for 30 minutes. After the interaction session, urine samples were collected again.
The results: the pairs who spent more time staring into each other’s eyes had a significant increase in oxytocin levels!
So, what about cats?
Does my cat love me?
Cats show their love differently than dogs. But the bond is just as strong!
Researchers have identified a handful of different body languages that cats display that can help us to understand how they feel about their human guardian.
Slow blinking has been identified as a cat’s demonstration of adoration and trust. Cats don’t give eye contact very often with humans. When a cat looks into your eyes with lowered eyelids and a steady, slow blink, it has been shown to signify trust and love!
Kneading, or “rhythmically pushing their paws in and out against a soft object,” is a common behavior of kittens that will often carry on during a cat’s life. It is associated with nursing, and is believed to create comfort and release endorphins even once the cat is no longer nursing.
Purring is one of the most obvious signs of a cat’s love and affection! Purring also has some unique benefits to us humans. A cat’s purr has the vibrational frequency of 26 Hertz. In the field of vibrational therapy, this is the frequency that is used to help encourage regeneration of tissue.
Dogs and cats provide us with more than just friendship!
Numerous studies on humans have shown that companion animals do wonders for their human guardians. A 2019 study of nearly 4 million dog guardians across the globe found that having a dog was linked to a 24% reduction in dying early from any cause! Another large study found that having a dog was linked to a greater recovery following a major cardiovascular event (such as a heart attack).
Having a cat has been linked to decreased levels of stress and an overall improvement in mood. Cats make incredible emotional support animals and can help humans recover from PTSD and other emotional events.
Spread the love to dogs and cats!
My dog does love me! My cat loves me back!
Clearly, we have quite the affinity for companion animals! An estimated 38.4% of US households have a dog, and 25.4% have a cat.
But tragically, hundreds of millions of stray dogs and cats roam the world on any given day worldwide. They’ll never get the chance to spread their love to a caring human family.
There’s an overpopulation crisis…resulting in hundreds of millions of unloved strays.
The overpopulation crisis means millions of animals end up either being deliberately killed, or roaming the streets until they die– usually young–of injury, illness, or starvation.
That’s why 600 Million Dogs has a unique, science-centered mission to significantly reduce animal suffering.
Safe, one-dose, oral birth control for dogs and cats!
We are in the research and development stage of creating the world’s first One-Dose Spay and Neuter Cookie.
Our latest study is underway, featuring over 40 rescued Pilot Pups! The Pilot Pups live in loving homes, not laboratories.
Their welfare comes first, before the science, the same way human trials are conducted.
Subscribe to our emails to stay up to date on the Cookie’s progress!
Spread the love this Valentine’s Day!
Out of 1.8 million nonprofits, 600 has been awarded the prestigious Gold seal of Transparency by Guidestar, now known as Candid, "the nation's premier nonprofit database."