Puppy love: The health benefits of loving your dog

Inspired by ‘The Love Hormone from Your Pet’, an article from Ultimate Pet Nutrition by Dr Gary Richter.

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from petting your dog? You’re not imagining it! We dog owners experience a release of oxytocin in our brains whenever we pet our dogs. Better yet, as you pet your dog, they get a boost of oxytocin too. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and plays a role in building trust, relationships and empathy.

What’s so great about oxytocin?

Oxytocin has been directly linked to decreased stress levels, and lower blood pressure, as well as more amicable and social demeanours. In other words, oxytocin can help you feel more relaxed and cheerful, as well as making you more likely to connect with others. So, as you can imagine, if both you and your pup get regular doses of oxytocin you will develop a super special connection.

Making the most of your bond

Amazingly, you can amplify the amount oxytocin that gets released by doing one simple thing. By simply looking into your dog’s eyes when you pet them you can boost your dog’s oxytocin levels by 130%, and your own by a staggering 300%. That’s a whole lot of love! Some believe that these beneficial oxytocin effects may explain why dog owners tend to have longer lifespans.

So, next time you get the chance, make sure you try the combination of gazing and petting. This is an especially great idea if you are about to go to a new place or see some new dogs. Try petting your pup for a good 30 seconds before you leave the house or get out of the car with them to alleviate anxiety and boost their happiness.

Please note: this trick only works with your own dog. If you attempt this with a dog that is unfamiliar with you, they may feel uncomfortable or aggressive.

As an animal chiropractor, I strongly believe in the healing powers of pets and animals. With the right bonding, your dog could help you live a longer and healthier life. With a simple pet and gaze routine, you can enjoy the warm, fuzzy feelings, while ensuring your dog is more friendly and social. If you are looking for a Gold Coast based animal chiropractor for you dog, then contact me today.

Wishing you all the happiness with your furry friend.

Dr Keith (Qualified animal chiropractor)

Sources and further reading:

1 Petersson, M., Uvnäs-Moberg, K., Nilsson, A., Gustafson, L. L., Hydbring-Sandberg, E., & Handlin, L. (2017). Oxytocin and Cortisol Levels in Dog Owners and Their Dogs Are Associated with Behavioral Patterns: An Exploratory Study. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1796. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01796

2 Uvnas-Moberg, K., & Petersson, M. (2005). Oxytocin, a mediator of anti-stress, well-being, social interaction, growth and healing. Zeitschrift Für Psychosomatische Medizin Und Psychotherapie, 51(1), 57-80.

3 Nagasawa, M., Mitsui, S., En, S., Ohtani, N., Ohta, M., & Sakuma, Y. et al. (2015). Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds. Science, 348(6232), 333-336. doi: 10.1126/science.1261022

4 Mubanga, M., Byberg, L., Nowak, C., Egenvall, A., Magnusson, P., Ingelsson, E., & Fall, T. (2017). Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death – a nationwide cohort study. Scientific Reports, 7(1). doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-16118-6