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Pet Chemistry: All About Oxytocin

 by zack on 13 Oct 2012 |
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Have you ever felt like your dog was more than just your faithful family companion? Did you ever get the feeling that the house hound was more like a kid than a big dumb drooling animal? Relax. You aren’t a crazy pet person. Well, maybe you are, but there is scientific data saying that it’s pretty normal to act that way. A fascinating and incredible fact you probably wouldn’t have expected to find out about dogs lies beneath the chemical makeup of the bond between man and his best friend.

It’s called Oxytocin. This crazy little chemical is responsible for the bond between parents and children, social awareness, and empathy. It’s released in the brain at birth and during the child’s maturation. It’s a handy evolutionary add on that helps human beings to feel affection for the annoying little rascals that show up suddenly to turn your nights sleepless, and make you change large quantities of overflowing diapers. A potent antithesis to post-partum depression.

And Guess what? The same chemical makeup that is responsible for a mother’s love  plays a big role in the feelings between you and your dog. Recent scientific studies performed by the fine Swedish scientists at Uppsalla University show that after only 10 minutes with an adorable little doggy there are sizable increases in the levels of oxytocin in both the brain of the human and the dog!

Similar findings in lab rats could indicate that oxytocin is actually responsible for all human/animal bonding. People have always known how therapeutic owning a dog or cat can be. Observable effects on pet owners throughout the years have included longer life, lower stress, and an overall  better level of health. However, now that science is finally catching up to common sense we can actually learn the chemistry behind our most powerful emotions.  That’s a handful of fascination that you might not have expected from ol’ Fido.

The implications of this study are pretty huge. Animal based therapies have been in place for a long while and have had some incredible results for the elderly and infirm especially. Now that we are attaining a better understanding of oxytocin and its role in our brain’s chemical makeup as well as our social interactions will only increase the effectiveness of such therapies.

Now that we’re catching on to the effectiveness of an oxytocin treatment it’s only a matter of time before it’s monetized and sold for millions. However, in the meantime there’s no oxytocin tablet available for sale. Which really kind of puts an even more positive spin on owning a dog. After all, you don’t need a prescription for a puppy, and they’re a lot cheaper than going to a high priced shrink to endeavor to eliminate your social anxieties and help you better bond with your fellow man. 

In the meantime, your doctor recommends you pet your puppy 40 times per minute for 5 minutes and call him in the morning.

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