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Science Says, Yes, You Can Love Your Dog Like a Baby

posted: 12/02/15
by: TLCme
French bulldog puppy
iStock

The next time someone scoffs at you for treating your pomeranian like you would a child, tell them your love is real and right, and they just don't understand. But thankfully, science does. According to a 2014 study from PLOS ONE, the love humans feel for dogs is actually a lot more similar to the love we feel for children.

Well, duh.

The concept is called "alloparenting," and it refers to when we adopt or care for a species other than are own. Apparently humans have been doing this for thousands of years -- the first domesticated dog dates back to around 32,000 years ago. But the neuroscience behind it is pretty interesting. For the study, researchers had women look at photos of both their babies and their dogs, along with babies and dogs they didn't know.

It turned out that, "there was a common network of brain regions involved in emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social cognition when mothers viewed images of both their child and dog." But the women didn't have a response when it came to the dogs and babies they weren't previously familiar with.

Not that you needed a reminder, but Lori Palley, co-lead author of the report, believes that having a pet can be great for you as well. "Several previous studies have found that levels of neurohormones like oxytocin - which is involved in pair-bonding and maternal attachment - rise after interaction with pets, and new brain imaging technologies are helping us begin to understand the neurobiological basis of the relationship, which is exciting." she said. "There is compelling evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that interacting with pets can be beneficial to the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of humans,"

Plus, no diapers.

And even if you do have a family, there are some pretty compelling reasons to get a pet (of any kind!).

Walking The Dogs

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Bill needs to get out and exercise, and a dog walk with Will and Zoey is just what the doctor ordered.