Science

Research shows that dogs tear up when they are reunited with their owners

A new study details the first time scientists have found a link between tears and emotions in dogs.
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Now, new research by Japanese scientists suggests that a dog’s eyes can water with happiness when it’s reunited with its owner after a period of absence. The tears can help strengthen the bond between human and dog – a relationship that goes back tens of thousands of years.

Like humans, dogs have tear ducts that fill with tears to keep their eyes clean and healthy. But tears in dogs, which don’t usually fall like tears in humans, had not previously been associated with emotions.

Takefumi Kikusui, a professor at the Laboratory of Human-Animal Interaction and Reciprocity at Azabu University in Japan, decided to study dog ​​tears after observing one of his two Standard Poodles when she had puppies six years ago. He noticed her eyes watered as she nursed her puppies.

“We found that dogs shed tears that are associated with positive emotions,” Kikusui, the co-author of the study, published Monday in the Current Biology journal, pHelp in a press release.

“We also discovered oxytocin as a possible underlying mechanism,” Kikusui said, referring to the hormone sometimes called the love or maternal hormone in humans.

Humans have bred dogs to have puppy eyes

To investigate the link, Kikusui and his team measured the amount of tears in 18 dogs using a standard test known as the Schirmer tear test. It involved a strip of paper placed in the dogs’ eyelids for a minute before and after they were reunited with their owners after five to seven hours of separation.

“Tear volume was evaluated by the length of the wet part on the STT. The baseline was about 22mm and owner reunion increased by 10%,” Kikusui explained via email.

Using 20 dogs, the researchers then compared the amount of tears before and after they were reunited with them Owners and people with whom the animals were familiar. Only the reunion with the owner made the tears flow.

To understand whether oxytocin played a role in tear production, a solution containing the hormone was applied to the ocular surface of 22 dogs. Tear volume increased significantly after using oxytocin compared to a control solution.

There’s still a lot researchers don’t know about dog tears. People often cry in response to negative emotions, but researchers haven’t tested whether dogs do the same. They also don’t know if a dog’s ability to tear has a social function in the dog World.

said Kikusui It was possible that humans would take better care of dogs that got teary-eyed. His team showed 74 persons pictures of dog faces with and without artificial tears in them and asked them to classify the animals. People reacted more positively when they saw dogs with watery eyes.

“Dogs have become partners with humans,” Kikusui said in a statement, “and we can form bonds.”

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