Scientific signs that dogs really do love their human companion

Cats really love people

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

If dogs can been shown to have an emotional reaction signified by a chemical change in their brain that we would call “love” then we should be able to confidently state that cats will have the same reaction which would serve to confirm what cat lovers the world over already know, namely that cats don’t just stay with us because we provide food and security; it goes well beyond that to genuine affection of a type similar to that experienced by people.

Ongoing research at an American University (Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia) showed, through brain scans on dogs, using an MRI scanner, that a part of the brain that deals with positive emotions called the caudate neuleus is similar in dogs and humans.

The tests were carried out on dogs who were trained to accept being in an MRI scanner. They are quite noisy, apparently. In using a scanner it is possible to obtain a much cleaner assessment of a dog’s brain activity and therefore what a dog is thinking. Usually a certain amount of guesswork is employed in observing a dog’s behaviour. A rescue dog named Callie and a 3 year old collie were studied.

OK, there is a downside to this. A dog is placed in a scanner but this is no more that what happens to people routinely. The upside is potentially very big in this instance.

If dogs and cats can be positively shown, through hard science, to have the ability to truly feel the sensation that we call “love” then it should be a step forward in more people respecting the cat, which in turn should result in improved cat caretaking.

It might also, ultimately, lead to legislation that protects an animal’s rights. At the moment an animal’s rights are protected vicariously (through us). We are beginning to understand that animals have the right to be treated as equals.

Associated: Cat emotions and brain function

7 thoughts on “Scientific signs that dogs really do love their human companion”

  1. Such a lot of money is wasted by scientists on trying to prove things we don’t really need to know or that we already do know, such as dogs loving their humans.
    Would that they would put that money to better use by putting it towards the care of needy animals instead of always thinking up new ways to experiment on them.

  2. This is amazing..

    It’s obvious to me- and the majority of pet guardians I know – while not “scientific”, know that their cats and dogs love them. It is a no brainer. On the opposite end of the spectrum however, it’s always obvious to me when an animal doesn’t “love” or even “like” someone.

    I truly believe that our pets are totally upfront about their feelings toward us. But I guess it doesn’t hurt to have “scientific ” proof about the capacity that animals have when it comes to love- or- actually any emotion at all.

    Feel better Marc!

  3. Great. I’ve had an MRI – it is cramped and noisy. Hard to picture a dog in one laying still and not moving around so they can scan. If it can be proven scientifically then there’s a legal potential I guess – a good thing for sure/

    • I believe that the motivation for training the dogs to accept an MRI scan was to gain knowledge about the dog and in doing so we gain knowledge about the dog, cat and many other animals. I want animals to have greater rights. If people can see that they are much more than they think they are, it helps in that objective.

      May I ask why you had an MRI scan, Marc?


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