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Hormone Oxytocin In Dogs, Is Responsible for Sensitivity which Makes them Man’s Best Friend

Dog-Human relation as we know is far different from other animals, A new study speaks what's the reason behind their friendly and loving nature toward humans.

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hormone oxytocin
Dog's hormone oxytocin sensitivity study. Pixabay

London, September 20, 2017: Ever wondered why some dogs are so friendly with their owners? It’s because of an association with genetic variations in sensitivity for the hormone Oxytocin, reveals a new study.

Since their domestication from their wild ancestor the wolf to the pets we have today, dogs have developed a unique ability to work together with humans.

One aspect of this is their willingness to “ask for help” when faced with a problem that seems to be too difficult.

However, there are large differences in the willingness to ask for help and to collaborate with humans, between breeds and between dogs of the same breed, according to the researchers.

This ability is associated with variations in sensitivity for the hormone oxytocin — known to play a role in social relationships between individuals.

The effect of oxytocin depends on the function of the structure that it binds to, the receptor, in the cell, the researchers said.

“Oxytocin is extremely important in the social interactions between people. And we also have similar variations in genes in this hormone system,” said Per Jensen, Professor at the Linkoping University, Sweden.

“Studying dog behaviour can help us understand ourselves, and may in the long term contribute to knowledge about various disturbances in social functioning,” Jensen added.

ALSO READ: Dogs can recognize human emotions: Research

For the study, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, the team examined 60 golden retrievers whose levels of oxytocin in the blood was increased by spraying the hormone into their nose.

The results showed that some dogs with a particular genetic variant are more sensitive to the hormone oxytocin, making them more likely to seek help from their owners.

These results help us understand how dogs have changed during the process of domestication.

Analysing DNA from 21 wolves, the researchers found the same genetic variation among them.

This suggests that the genetic variation was already present when domestication of the dogs started 15,000 years ago.

(IANS)

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Petting Dogs, Cats Can Improve Students’ Mood: Study

These results were found even while considering that some students may have had very high or low levels to begin with

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The results showed that the pups' attractiveness was lowest at birth and increased to a maximum before 10 weeks of age before declining and then levelling off.
Representational Image. pixabay

College is stressful. Students have classes, exams and so many other pressures common in modern life and now researchers have found that petting dogs and cats can improve students’ mood with stress-relieving physiological benefits, a study shows.

According to the study published in the journal AERA Open, many universities have instituted “Pet Your Stress Away” programmes, where students can come in and interact with cats and dogs.

“Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact,” students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone,” said Patricia Pendry, Associate Professor at Washington State University.

The study involved 249 college students randomly divided into four groups. The first group received hands-on interaction in small groups with cats and dogs for 10 minutes. They could pet, play with and generally hang out with the animals as they wanted.

To compare effects of different exposures to animals, the second group observed other people petting animals while they waited in line for their turn. The third group watched a slideshow of the same animals available during the intervention, while the fourth group was “waitlisted”.

“Relations with pets tend to be less complicated than those with humans, and pets are often a source of great enjoyment. They also provide older people with a sense of being needed and loved,” said Mary Janevic, researcher at the University of Michigan in the US.  Pixabay

According to the researchers, those students waited for their turn quietly for 10 minutes without their phones, reading materials or other stimuli, but were told they would experience animal interaction soon.

For the findings, several salivary cortisol samples were collected from each participant, starting in the morning when they woke up.

Once all the data was crunched from the various samples, the students who interacted directly with the pets showed significantly less cortisol in their saliva after the interaction.

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These results were found even while considering that some students may have had very high or low levels to begin with.

“What we wanted to learn was whether this exposure would help students reduce their stress in a less subjective way. And it did, which is exciting because the reduction of stress hormones may, over time, have significant benefits for physical and mental health,” Pendry said. (IANS)