Touchy-Feely: Can Pets Sense Emotions in Humans?
As a pet owner, you’ve likely noticed how your pets seem to respond to your moods. Perhaps your dog shares in your excitement of a hike on a warm spring day, or your cat always seems to curl up in your lap for a snuggle when you’re feeling down.
It probably comes as no surprise that the relationship between humans and pets has been studied extensively by scientists and animal behaviorists, including the question of whether or not pets sense emotions.
Pets Sense Emotions and Expressions
Sadness, anger, and joy are some of the most powerful human emotions, and studies show that our pets respond to them in a variety of ways:
- Scientists have known for years that dogs respond to various human facial expressions, but a 2011 study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior discovered that dogs will actively avoid someone who appears angry.
- A study out of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan looked at the behaviors of 12 cats and their owners. They found that, when their owners were smiling, the cats would actively perform positive behaviors, such as purring or sitting in their owners’ laps. Conversely, the cats chose to spend less time around their owners when they were frowning.
- A team of scientists from the universities of Lincoln and Sao Paulo found evidence that dogs can integrate multiple sources of sensory information, in this case, human facial expressions and tone of voice, in order to decipher and respond to the human emotion.
- Researchers from Claremont Graduate University found that cats’ brains release oxytocin, also called the “love hormone”, when they interact with favored humans and other cats. This hormone is responsible for the close bonds that human loved ones have with one another.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the human-animal bond is defined as, “…a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals.” The bond we share with our dogs, cats, birds, llamas, and other pets goes deeper than words. Indeed, most animal lovers would agree that pets sense emotions in humans.
At Schertz Animal Hospital, we deeply appreciate the special relationships our clients share with their pets. Does your pet respond to your emotional state? We’d love to hear about it! Post it to our Facebook page, or share it with us the next time you and your pet are in to see us.
Share This Article
Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!