Our puppy’s eyes are pumped up, an effect that is caused by oxytocin. This causes us to desire to look after them more.
Karen Hopkin: This is Scientific American’s 60-Second Science. I’m Karen Hopkin.
After a long day at work It’s hard to not smile when confronted with a dizzy show of pure canine delight.
It’s more than just the happy yapping or the wriggling tail that pull at our hearts.
A new study has revealed how dogs’ eyes are filled with tears after being reunited with their people…an effect that triggers our instincts to care for others. The findings appear in the journal Current Biology.
Takefumi Kikusui began to notice dogs with their sweet and loving gazes as he watched his dog play with her pups.
The Takefumi Kikusui If she’s feeding her pups her face gets so adorable. Of course, she’s adorable like always. However, there’s more.
Hopkin The story goes like this: At some moment Kikusui who is an veterinary medicine professor in Azabu University in Japan, noticed that his beautiful dog’s mama was crying within her eyes. This potential connection between uncontrollable adorableness and unshed tears sent Kikusui running away from his dog and back to his lab.
Kikusui The test: The test will begin to test the tear volumes at baseline when the dogs were in the same room with their owners in their home.
Hopkin It is then the owner would take it high-tail off for about five or six hours.
Kikusui The moment the owner returned and we measured the volume of tears again. The results showed it was the fact that the reunions with owners stimulates tear production.
Hopkin However, it only was used in conjunction with the dog’s owner.
Kikusui The reason for this was that there was not a rise in tears after pets were taken away from their owner, and then reunited with the dog’s caretaker at the dog care facility.
Hopkin Researchers suspected that the reaction to tears was triggered by oxytocin…a hormone that is associated in social bonds. They have previously demonstrated that oxytocin increases when dogs are in contact and interact with their owner. In addition, oxytocin receptors have been discovered to be plentiful in glands that produce tears in mice.
Kikusui“So we applied oxytocin to dogs’ eyes.
Hopkin and voila…the dogs weepy. What was the goal? Or, in other words do you see any advantage to this lachrymose behaviour? To determine this, Kikusui and his colleagues presented volunteers with a couple of headshots of hounds.
Kikusui The first was a normal dog’s expression. The other was a tearsy dog face, in which we added fake tears.
Hopkin Hopkin participants were more likely be enticed to snuggle and provide look after the pups with large eyes, wet puppy-dog eyes…
Kikusui: …suggesting that the teary eyes of dogs could aid in human behavior of caring for others.
Hopkin So dogs switch on the waterworks and owners walk over. That’s an ingenious trick!
Hopkin for the Scientific American’s 60-Second Science Hi, I’m Karen Hopkin.