But is love something that can really be measured?
Do you consider yourself a dog or a cat person? Maybe you love both? Whatever the case may be, we love our pets and they love us, but have you ever wondered how much they love us? As if there were not enough topics in the dog vs cat debate, another question has popped up: Do dogs or cats love humans more?
According to a new study by Dr. Paul Zak, a neuroscientist and professor at Claremont Graduate University, we now have the answer — however, I am not convinced.
Zak took blood samples from 10 dogs and 10 cats before and after they played with their humans, and tested their blood for levels of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. “Oxytocin is an attachment neurochemical or transmitter,” he told The Huffington Post. “It’s a chemical we produce in our brain when we care about someone. It’s what mammals release to bond with their young.”
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Humans produce oxytocin when we have a positive experience, and the amount that we produce is highly dependent on how stressful the situations are at the time, explained Zak.
According to Zak, humans produce a 15 to 25 percent increase in oxytocin levels — which is secreted into our blood — when we have a pleasant encounter with a stranger, 25 to 50 percent when we are engaging with someone we know, and 50 percent or more when we are responding to someone we really love. So using these numbers as a reference, Zak deduced how much dogs and cats love us.
This may or may not surprise you, but dogs were shown to love humans more. In fact, five times more. Dogs, on average, produced 57.2 percent more oxytocin after playing with their owners..
“So your dog really loves you … a lot,” Zak said to The Huffington Post. “But what makes this so amazing is that the oxytocin they produced is for another species, not their own. The fact that this is cross species is really freakin’ crazy/cool. Their brains are telling them that they love us.”
Cats, on the other hand, only produced 12 percent more oxytocin after interacting with their owners and only 50 percent of the cats produced any oxytocin whatsoever. However, this does not necessarily point to cats loving humans less.
Cats are less social than dogs and are extremely territorial, and Zak’s lab, where the experiments were conducted, was a sterile and strange place. This creates a more stressful situation for the cats than the dogs. Zak believes the cats would have produced more oxytocin if they had been tested in their homes.
Now, would they have produced as much oxytocin as dogs? Who knows, however I believe every animal shows love and devotion in their own way — something I do not think can ever be measured, let alone with a blood test.