Puppy Love: Does Your Pet Really Love You?

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They're so cute and cuddly, and you know you love your pets. But why? And do they feel the same way about you? Researchers have looked into the effects having and caring for a pet have on people, and the results boil down to a chemical reaction. Specifically, loving and cuddling with Fifi or Fido produces a release of oxytocin in humans. Some scientists call this hormone the "moral molecule" or "love hormone" because it's involved in making us feel good when we're doing things for others or showing compassion for others. It's released during uterine contractions, and its synthetic form, Pitocin, is administered to expectant mothers to help them go into labor. The effects of oxytocin among humans has been widely studied, but only recently have researchers expanded their efforts to other species, namely pets. In a Japanese study, after taking a baseline measurement of pets' and their owners' oxytocin level, owners assessed their bond with their pets in a questionnaire.