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Shiny Happy Pets Issue

barks feature | weathering the storm Dr. Dodman: Until recently, many scientists believed that animals didn’t have thoughts or emotions — though most pet owners probably knew they were wrong! A dog may not be able to verbalize when he feels threatened or when he is grieving, but the centers that control emotion in the canine brain are identical to those in people. In brain scans, you can actually see the same areas lighting up. If an animal sees something that scares him, a zone called the amygdala lights up, and that animal’s behavioral and physiological response is the same as ours would be when frightened. Today, there’s no doubt that animals think and have the primary emotions of fear and anger. I’ve also suggested for years that dogs can feel jealousy and guilt, which is now being shown to be true. Pets don’t have as big a cerebral cortex as we do, but they have all the working parts. They’re the equivalent of an early computer, and we’re closer to the latest model. Dr. Ward: I remember reading in your book, The Dog Who Loved Too Much, what many vets and pet parents have always believed: that dogs and cats have the capacity for love, not just fear or anger. Dr. Dodman: Biologically, love is fueled by oxytocin, the hormone of bonding. It’s also the hormone of attachment between mothers and offspring, and that translates into feelings and behaviors. So, can animals love? Absolutely. In fact, some dogs can become so bonded to a person or pet that they can’t stand to be left alone. Dr. Ward: That leads me to another point — grief is not unique to humans. I had a case where a pet owner passed away, and the dog refused to eat or leave the den where they used to sit together. If we hadn’t intervened medically, I think he would have grieved himself to death. Dr. Dodman: Dogs who are powerfully bonded to their owner can go into a behavioral funk if they are separated — they will eat less, and lose weight and body condition. They’re less likely to play or interact with people in a positive way. They can even have sleep disturbances. There is a healthy level of temporary grief in pets and in people, but sometimes there can be long-lasting effects. There was a famous dog in Tokyo named Hatchiko, who used to accompany his owner to the train station every day. When his owner passed away, the dog continued to come exactly when the train was due to arrive — for nine years. I would imagine that dog had suffered some sort of trauma; it was lifelong grieving. So, can animals love? Absolutely. 32 the shiny happy pets issue


Shiny Happy Pets Issue
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