Do animals experience love?

Like all cat owners, one questions whether their favourite feline just shows affection for food. 

18th September 2017
Do animals experience love? (Getty)

Asked by: Rebecca Pollard, Wakefield

Neuroscience tells us that many animals possess the physiological attributes needed to enable them to experience love, if defined as ‘feelings of strong affection for a particular individual’. Research shows that the ‘cuddle hormone’ oxytocin is heightened in dogs when they are interacting with their owners, which increases bonding. Paired prairie voles stay together thanks to the ‘desire’ hormone dopamine, which they are more receptive to after mating. Behaviourally we see animals displaying extraordinary evidence of grief, care and empathy towards each other and their human companions – this clearly isn’t just ‘cupboard love’! If they could talk, I believe they absolutely would say they can and do love. 

 

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