© Henryk T Kaiser/Rex
After playing with their pets, dog owners seem to experience a burst in oxytocin - a hormone linked to infant care and romantic love.
Who needs children when a puppy can provide a similar emotional experience? After playing with their pets, dog owners experience a burst in a hormone linked to infant care, not to mention romantic love and friendship, new research finds.
Nicknamed the "cuddle chemical" and the "love drug", oxytocin has been found to dampen stress, combat depression, and breed trust in humans. Studies of voles, mice and rats also point to oxytocin's role in pair bonding and social memory.
For this reason, biologists Miho Nagasawa and Takefumi Kikusui, of Azuba University in Japan, wondered whether social contact between two different species could boost oxytocin levels, as well.
"Miho and I are big dog lovers and feel something changed in our bodies when gazed [upon] by our dogs," Kikusui says.