Pets in Love: Real Life or Just in the Movies?

Two fluffy white dogs get married in full wedding regalia.

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, our thoughts tend to turn to love during this time of year. As that theme runs throughout our days, it is only natural for us animal lovers at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates to wonder if pets in love are the real deal or just for cutesy television. 

Pets in Love: Fact or Fiction

Despite what most of us would like to think, it is unlikely that animals experience most emotions in the same way that people do. 

The jury is still out whether pets feel romantic love in the same way we might, but we do know that they have a range of emotions similar to us. 

We know scientifically that people release oxytocin in their brain when they feel close to someone. Whether it’s in relation to a romantic interest or just companionship, the same hormone is involved for our animal friends.

We know that animals do have increases in oxytocin when they are with another person or pet that they care about, although we cannot know the difference between actual romance and friendship. 

Dogs interestingly have much higher levels of oxytocin in general than cats. 

By measuring oxytocin levels, it does appear that pets in love are, at least on some level, a real thing. Love is pretty complex, and the love that pets experience may not be a full-out Lady and the Tramp type romance. We think it’s nice, though, to know that our pets get to experience such a wonderful emotion. 

Sharing the Love

We know that, at least on a brain hormone level, that pets can be in love. Don’t waste the chance, then, to shower your pet in affection this Valentine’s Day. 

Be sure to bond with your four-legged friend this holiday by:

  • Curling up and enjoying a movie together
  • Taking a nice walk
  • Playing a game
  • Having a home grooming session
  • Making them a special treat
  • Calling us to make an appointment to catch up on pet wellness care
  • Going for a ride to visit friends or family
  • Having a puppy play date
  • Be sure to offer extra petting and physical attention

You can also be on the lookout for signs that your pet is reciprocating your affection as well. Things like seeking out contact via touch, a loving gaze, a wagging tail, or waiting for you can all be subtle signs that your pet loves you back. Cats may purr or knead on you, bring you gifts (although they may not be wanted!), groom you, or give you head butts. 

Regardless of how your pet might experience love, the human-animal bond is a powerful thing. We hope that you get to know that first-hand this season.