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Dogs Sprayed With Oxytocin Will Sniff More Butts, Do Other Nice Doggie Things

Use that information wisely.


With a nickname like “The Love Hormone,” oxytocin certainly has sexy connotations. But what role does the chemical play outside of reproduction for non-monogamous mammals? Science made a bunch of dogs snort love potion to find out.

To conduct their adorable study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers from Japan gathered a sample group of 16 full-grown dogs of varying breeds, as well as their owners. The dogs had a mixture sprayed up their nose of either salt water or oxytocin, after which the researchers performed blood and urine tests every five minutesĀ  (I would need a lot of drugs to be okay with that much pricking).

The scientists realized that dogs who were administered the hormone had oxycotin levels higher than just their dosage, indicating that their body produced more of the chemical after being exposed to it. The subjects given the hormone spray also demonstrated more sociability than the pets given placebo. When the animals were allowed to interact with each other they demonstrated more pawing, sniffing and eye contact with their owners and other dogs (regardless of breed) than those who weren’t given the hormone. However, the endogenous levels of oxycotin did increase in all subjects during playtime with other dogs, which is a bad science pun but also a reminder that sex isn’t the only interaction that promotes intimacy.

The researchers say their study proves, “that in the domestic dog oxytocin enhances social motivation to approach and affiliate with conspecifics and human partners, which constitutes the basis for the formation of any stable social bond.” It’s highly likely that oxytocin plays a similar role outside of “immediate reproductive interests” with other mammals, too.

Probably not cats, though. I’m pretty sure you need a heart for this study to work.

(via, Aaron Jacobs)

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