Many studies confirm the positive effects of having pets at home
Pets are good for health and make us happy: many studies confirm that caressing a pet or watching videos of animals give us happiness and balance the equilibrium of our hormones, helping us reaching happiness and relaxing feelings. Pets keep us in shape, are good for health and are a constant source of joy even in hard times: this thanks to oxytocin, known also as the love hormone. What is the link between pets and oxytocin?
What is oxytocin?
It is commonly called the “love hormone” because it encourages affection and social bonds: we are talking about oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that regulate behavior behind social relationships, that mend our stress and gives us the feeling we are part of a community. Many recent studies also show that oxytocin has a role in social behavior of dogs, whose sociability towards people is caused by polymorphism of a gene that encode the receptor of oxytocin. So, spending time with your dog, scratching its stomach, caressing its ears would increase oxytocin levels in the blood of both, indicating it is a positive experience for them. Oxytocin plays a crucial role in human communication, in altruism and generosity, in regulating social skills and mental illness. Many studies have already demonstrated how oxytocin plays a central role in bonds and human relationships, increasing at the same time extroversion and lovability.
Recently scientists have also studied the role of oxytocin in the relationship man-dog. Actually, it was already known how interactions between people and dogs cause the release of oxytocin in blood flow of both species. In order to better understand how this hormonal response works, researchers have carried out many experiments and got their conclusions. In the same way as son-mother relationship is regulated by oxytocin, human beings interacting with dogs experience oxytocin release caused by the gaze: the more you keep a constant gaze, the higher are oxytocin levels in both, increasing a wellness feeling at the same time. This hormonal interaction is known as positive cycle of oxytocin-gaze.
This study confirms that the long-lasting coexistence between dog and men have set the difference in terms of oxytocin, making similar the relationships dog-men and mother-son.
Many other studies demonstrate how pets and in particular dogs give positive psychological effects to the owners.
According to a Swedish study of 2014, dog owners generally register a 6.6% of oxytocin in their body when they cuddle or caress their four-legged friends. Being in contact with dogs lower cortisol level (the indicator for tension).
The high level of oxytocin demonstrates the love of men for dogs and also the opposite, since man’s best friend increases its level of oxytocin up to 57% while playing with the owner.