Many of us see our pets as just as much a part of the family as any of the human members, which should come as no surprise. We’re continuing a bonding trend between humans and animals that has existed for thousands of years. Asking ourselves, “why do I love my dog/cat so much,” is usually such an easy thing to answer, but what about their love for us?
Do dogs and cats experience love? Is there more to our bond than the mutual benefit of safety and food? Read on to explore the answer. In brief, this article will explore how domestic animals feel about their humans as well as the behaviors your pets display to tell you they love you without words.
Do Dogs & Cats Feel Love?
According to scientific research, domestic pets like cats and dogs experience love for the people they’re closest to. This conclusion was discovered when researchers recorded scans of a dog’s brain activity while the animal was exposed to specific scents. When the animals caught the familiar scent of their owners, the reward center of their brains became active. This activation represents a sensation similar to the one humans experience in the company of someone they love.
Animal experts also claim that cats experience love, though the evidence collected was based on a cat’s body language and behavior instead of brain activity.
How Do Animals Express Love?
Plenty of people wonder, “how do I know if my dog loves me,” because unlike humans, dogs can’t express their feelings with words.
However, dogs and cats each have their own ways of expressing love and affection, so to determine whether dogs and cats love their owners, look for these cues.
Do dogs love their owners? These behaviors indicate that, YES, your dog loves you:
- Your dog tries to sleep near you
- He wags his tail when you talk
- He follows you around
- Your dog wants to play and roughhouse with you
- She will try to give you her toys
- She will “smile” at you
- Your dog will lean on you or cuddle with you
Cats express themselves a little differently than dogs do, but if you keep an eye out for these behaviors, you can take them as a hint that your cat loves you.
- Your cat puts their butt in your face (it’s odd, but cats greet their friends this way)
- Your cat gently bumps their head against you
- He sits on your lap
- He follows you from one room to another
- Your cat will purr near you
- She makes eye contact, then slowly blinks or rests her eyes
- She will bring you “gifts” that she hunted (cats seem to believe humans are incapable of caring for themselves)
Did You Know?
- 80% of dog owners report observing jealous behaviors from their dogs
- Do dogs experience love? Yes! Research shows part of a dog’s brain is associated with positive emotions, and therefore they do experience love for their owners.
- 50% of Americans report they would be more willing to date someone if they had a dog
- 2 in 3 dating app users are more likely to swipe right on someone with pet photos in their dating app profile
- Half of people said they wouldn’t date someone their dog doesn’t like
- 67% of pet owners report gazing lovingly into their pet’s eyes, and about 33% do this more with their dog than their romantic partner.
- 25% of people spend more money on their dog than on their partner
- Nearly half of people cuddle with their dog more than their partner
Most people feel a sense of joy knowing that when we express love for our pets, the feeling is mutual. Your dog or cat loves you, and they’re happier with you in their lives. Take comfort in that fact and go spend some quality time together.