Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
Send Cancel

Dog-owner bond similar to mother-infant relationship
woman with dog
"The human-dog relationship is exceptional because it is an interspecies form of attachment."
Mutual gazing between dog and owner triggers oxytocin release

Dog owners often admit to loving their pet as much as (or even more than) members of their family. New research findings may explain this, suggesting eye contact between dogs and owners triggers the release of oxytocin, facilitating the same bonding process that occurs between a mother and her child.

A team of Japanese scientists believe dogs may have acquired human methods of communication during domestication.

According to their research, which has been published in the journal Science, mutual gazing between dogs and owners triggered a significant increase in urinary oxytocin, which is also known as the 'love hormone'.

Gaze is an important part of human communication, enabling us to interpret another's intention and also, crucially, to establish relationships, for example social attachment between mother and infant.

Eye contact between a mother and her child releases oxytocin, which drives bonding between the two and generates maternal behaviours.

Writing in Science, researchers said: "The human-dog relationship is exceptional because it is an interspecies form of attachment."

Dogs and owners involved with the Japanese study were urine tested before and after a 30 minute period of interaction with one another. Dogs were divided into two groups - 'long gaze' and 'short gaze'. Owners and dogs in the long gaze group showed a significantly greater increase in oxytocin levels.

The same experiment was also carried out on hand-reared wolves. This group rarely showed mutual gazing with their owners and oxytocin levels remained unchanged. This suggests mutual gazing as a form of communication between dogs and owners evolved during domestication.

Commenting on the findings in Science, the researchers wrote: "These results suggest that humans may feel affection for their companion dogs similar to that felt toward human family members and that dog-associated visual stimuli, such as eye-gaze contact from their dogs activate oxytocin systems."

For the full research report:

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Webinar to focus on equine worm control

News Story 1
 Vets, veterinary nurses and RAMAs are being invited to join a free CPD webinar on late winter and early spring equine worm control.

Hosted by Zoetis vet Dr Wendy Talbot, the webinar aims to help prescribers understand which parasites are of most concern at this time of year. It will also cover how to assess parasite risk, selecting a suitable wormer and spring wormer plans, concluding with a Q&A session.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, 18 March at 10 am and will be repeated at 7 pm for those unable to listen during the day. To book the 10 am webinar, click here, and to register for the 7 pm webinar, click here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
Avian influenza confirmed in Lancashire

A case of highly pathogenic (HPAI H5N8) avian influenza has been confirmed in two captive peregrine falcons on a non-commercial, non-poultry premises near Skelmersdale, West Lancashire.

Following a risk assessment, APHA has declared that no disease control zones have been put in place surrounding this non-commercial, non-poultry premises.

Eighteen cases of HPAI H5N8 have now been identified in poultry and other captive birds in England. A housing order for poultry and captive birds introduced by Defra to control the spread of the disease expired on 31 March, although bird keepers in England are still required by law to comply with biosecurity measures.

For more information, please click here.