Interactions With Dogs Can Boost Levels of the ‘Hug Hormone’

Woman boosting her levels of feel good hormones by gazing into the eyes of her pet.

Does seeing your dog after a long day bring you a sense of happiness? Well, now there is science to back up the claim. In LiveScience, the founders of Dognition, Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, revealed that the chemistry between a pet and its owner can now be measured at a chemical level.

Much of the research speaks of oxytocin, also known as the “hug hormone,” a molecule that helps people feel good when touched. It has been known to reduce stress and blood pressure and relieve pain, according to the source.

At the University of Pretoria in South Africa, owners played with their dogs for 30 minutes and blood samples were taken before and after the activity. Researchers found that the participants’ blood pressure decreased, while they also saw increased levels of oxytocin and beta-endorphins. The latter promotes pain relief and the sense of euphoria.

Another study conducted in Japan, at the Miho Nagasawa of Azabu University, found that 23 percent of the 55 dogs tested had a long gaze measuring two minutes or longer. Those pet owners reported to be happier than their counterparts.

To test your own dog, head to Dognition, the website that helps people understand their pet’s personality and intelligence level. To see if your animal has a longer than average stare, test out the dog eye contact game.

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