In the month of February, love is in the air. This includes our precious pets that love us too! Did you know? February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day!

When your dog greets you at the door, your cat meows for you attention, or our favorite cuddling buddy settles in on the couch to rest with us for hours. But can our pets really show us their love?

Research shows that signs point to yes! Love may be complex, and difficult to measure in both humans and pets alike, but studies have shown that – when it comes to expressing their love, dogs and cats alike can form deep bonds with their owners. Our pets show behaviors that indicate their attachment, affection, and love towards their companion pet owners.

Using a special type of MRI machine, studies of brain function have shown that dogs have a strongly positive emotional response when they see or smell their owners. Both humans and animals produce the “bonding” hormone oxytocin. The hormone is then released in the brain when there are strong feelings of dog or cat love. And our pets show this overwhelming amount of feel-good hormone in their brain by engaging with us in tail wagging or purring. Here are just a few things that our dogs and cats do to show their love, and some tips for how you can show love back!

Can My Dog Show Love? Here’s How!

Dogs show love in extremely varied ways! Some may be over the top, and others, much more subtle. Like humans, it all depends on their attitude, temperament, and preferences. Below are some of the more common ways that dogs show their love and affection for their owners.

Your Dog Seeks Out Your Attention Through Touch

One of the most obvious ways that dogs show their affection is through physical contact! Licking your face, pawing at your hands, asking for some play time, and even squeezing into your lap (despite their size) are great examples of ways that dogs show affection through physical contact. When begging for some love from their owner, they know just how to beg for some time to cuddle and connect!

Your Dog Gazes at You Lovingly

When a dog shows relaxed eye contact with its’ owner, that’s another great example of dogs showing their love for you! Studies have shown that humans have transferred the mutual bonding moments of gazing into each other’s eyes to our pet dogs. And as we gaze lovingly into our dog’s eyes, our brains release oxytocin. Dogs smell this hormone and begin to release oxytocin of their own!

Your Dog Wags Their Tail When Near You

We all know a happy tail wag when we see it! Tail wagging in dogs can mean a wide variety of things – joy, excitement, hesitation, and even more. But a loose, relaxed wagging tail means delight for your dog, and presumably yourself! Some dogs will even wag their entire body, bringing every muscle into a shake.

Your Dog Turns to Look Back at You on Walks

It’s hard for dogs to contain all that joy and energy when on a walk with you. But chances are they turn around every once in a while, and look back to check on you. Your dog wants to make sure you’re safe and keeping up, so you can enjoy the journey together! As a part of your dog’s family, they want to make sure all their loved ones stay together.

Does My Cat Love Me? A Guide To Feline Affection

Cats are known for being much more distant than their overjoyed canine companions, but anyone lucky enough to own a cat knows they have their own ways of showing affection and love. Here are just a few ways that you can see that your cat loves you.

Your Cat Purrs and “Talks” To You

Some cats can end up quite talkative, meowing and chatting with you as they go. But it’s not always a demand for more food – sometimes, it’s just a sign of their love and affection. Cats don’t usually meow at people they don’t have a connection with, so take it as a sign that your cat loves you. And be sure to let your cat express its’ contentment by purring away as it sleeps on your lap!

Your Cat Head Bunts or Rubs Their Cheeks on You

Is your cat bumping into you? This unique, gentle bump (referred to as “bunting”) is another great way your feline friend shows their love. They may also rub their cheek against you. This is their way to mark you as a familiar, loved figure using feline facial pheromones.

Your Cat Brings You Gifts

We’ve all gotten a strange gift from our cat. Dead mice, suspicious treats, toys, and birds, when left on a pillow or doorstep, can certainly alarm us. But this is a great gesture of affection from your cat! Your cat is bringing its’ prey and catch to take care of you – just hope its of the stuffed variety!

Your Cat Grooms or Kneads You

Some cats will show their grooming routine as a sign of affection. Your cat may also knead on you with their front paws! Kneading behavior in cats likely comes from days as a nursing kitten when similar paw movements would help stimulate milk production from their mother. Affection comes easy when your cat is comfortable with you.

Time To Show You Love Your Dog Or Cat In Return!

Now that you’re spotting signs that your dog or cat love you, you can think of how best to return that love! Attention and touch are easy ways to build you bond and give them a big boost of oxytocin. Make sure you give them the praise, playtime, toys, and treats that they crave to experience with you. Share your physical touch by petting, scratching, and stroking them lovingly. Most importantly, check in and pay attention to your pet’s needs to keep their brains and bodies happy and healthy!

Dogs and Cats can be incredible gifts to experience love and companionship in our lives. That’s why it’s important to share you love and protection with them, and take a moment out of your day to show your dog or cat just how grateful you are that they’re in your life.




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