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Want More Affection From Fido? There’s a Drug for That

Want More Affection From Fido? There’s a Drug for That

Often referred to as the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical,” oxytocin plays a strong role in bonding us with our loved ones. Our pituitary gland naturally releases the hormone during special loving moments like snuggling, orgasms, childbirth, cuddling and breastfeeding. The chemical is also produced synthetically and often administered to pregnant women to induce labor.

How might this chemical affect our four-legged loved ones? Livescience shed some light on this question while reporting on a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

When scientists in Japan gave dogs a quick whiff of an oxytocin nasal spray, the pooches became more affectionate toward their owners. The dogs that received oxytocin sniffed, licked and pawed at their owners more affectionately than before, while the dogs given the simple saline behaved normally. The dogs that got a hit of oxytocin also spent more time sitting close by and staring into their owners’ eyes, a friendly behavior that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recognizes as a sign that the dog hopes to be noticed.

While I can think of a man or two who I’d like to take a quick sniff of oxytocin in my company, I’d prefer not to give it to my own dogs, Sanchez and Gina. I like to think that I’ve created enough positive reinforcement from our play and training sessions together that a drug isn’t needed for their affection.

However, I imagine oxytocin could be very helpful when first bringing a newly adopted, fearful dog home. It can take some dogs a long time to build trust with a new human, and the drug could be tapered off as the dog starts to feel more comfortable. I also wonder if it would improve adoptions rates in shelters if dogs were administered a sniff of oxytocin when potential adopters were in their presence.

The new study was just published June 9, so it remains to be seen how oxytocin will be used with dogs. I can hardly wait to hear about some of the benefits.

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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Dogs, Love, Pets, Relationships, , , ,

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.

119 comments

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9:21AM PDT on Jul 15, 2014

My 12 year old Doberman Ilara much can relax outside in the garden, I also always look that she has plenty of sun and shade, fresh water, and last but not least she gets from even more peace and love from my side.

3:20AM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

thanks

4:29PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

The more I read the more convinced I become that there are a whole lot of people floating around in the ether!!
Maybe THEY should consider psychotropic medication!!

8:10PM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

oxytocin is a natural hormone. Oxycontin is a chemical drug.
If you are a loving person, you ooz oxytocin and animals respond to it, as do other people, tho it often confuses them,
If your animal is displaying distress signals, spray your self with this stuff and get back to your core energy and probably sooner rather than later, the animal will respond to you.Plants also respond to this pheromone, as do weather patterns.. Natural healers also emit this vibe. Unfortunately some people go balistic when they encounter this unconditional love pharomone because it triggers all their self worth issues and they blame you for all of the discomfort they initially feel. Eventually they get over it but it may destroy their relationship with you for awhile. And if sure makes you want to go 'hide your light' under a basket for a good long time.

7:59PM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

Holy cow. I can't believe they are promoting this drug as a love tonic. Oxytocin is used in dogs already but as the article said for women it has the same use in dogs. It induces or helps with the pupping process to help push the pups out. It can only be used in the presence of a vet. And to tout this as a flippant tool to get your dogs to like you is irresponsible. The dogs are who they are and if they don't show affection in the way you want, that is your problem; not something to solve by drugging your dog. Just disgusting.

1:22PM PDT on Jul 4, 2014

This sounds like an absolutely terrible idea! And it's being promoted as a GOOD thing?! As far as I know side effects haven't been studied at all and even if they have it's NOT right to force ''medication'' on your pets just because it makes you feel a bit better.

5:23AM PDT on Jul 3, 2014

My dog is very affectionate. I think it's a very bad idea to give a dog a drug for that.

7:50PM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

This is just :P sorry and too many people focus on nut case ideas instead of just living. We are so modernized we have forgotten all that;s just natural and just is....

10:27PM PDT on Jul 1, 2014

thanks

8:15AM PDT on Jul 1, 2014

On June 23, we're *anticipating the benefits* of oxytocin to make your pet more lovey-dovey.
On June 29, we're told *how sad it that?* that Prozac, a very valuable medication, is used to help animals with severe anxiety and behavioural issues.

Which is it??

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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