Some of us might feel as if we are addicted to spending time with our dogs. This is a common impulse. When we are away from our pets, we tend to miss them in ways that we cannot quite articulate. Our pets make us happy and the positive effect that they can have on our brains is impossible to ignore. But did you know that there is scientific evidence to support these claims?
That’s right. Studies show that spending time petting dogs light up a certain part of our brains, the same part that responds to the usage of drugs. “Hugs, not drugs” may seem like a silly piece of advice to some but according to the results of this study, the results more than speak for themselves. The petting of a dog impacts us in numerous ways.
Our sense of touch might seem like a simple concept but it is actually more complex than most realize. When we touch various objects, our brains file the feelings into three separate categories. Unpleasant, neutral and pleasant are the three categories. Of course, you can imagine where the feelings that are associated with petting a dog are stored.
When the pleasant part of the brain is triggered, dopamine is released. This is where the similarities between dog petting and drug usage come into play. Serotonin is also released. Dopamine and serotonin are typically associated with the usage of certain drugs. Alcohol, MDMA and cocaine all fall under this category. Feel good chemicals are released each time a dog is petted.
Now, we can tell people that petting a dog is even better than doing drugs and we will not be lying in the slightest. Those who are experiencing low levels of dopamine and serotonin can shore up these deficiencies by taking the time to pet a dog. Even something as simple as looking into the eyes of a dog can have a positive effect on our mindsets.
This is why dogs are used as emotional support animals. Don’t make the mistake of making eye contact with animals that you do not know, though. If you do not have a rapport with the animal, they are more likely to view this sort of eye contact as a threat. If you would like to see video of people hugging various animals, be sure to check out the heartwarming clip below.