Pets’ Valentine: 5 Ways to Tell if Your Dog/Cat Loves You


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Can our dogs and cats love us? “Absolutely,” answers Dr. Patrick Flynn, without hesitation. He’s the President of the Human Animal Bond Association.

If I had written this post 20 years ago, many (including veterinary professionals and other scientists) would argue our pets aren’t capable of love. Today, we know they are very much capable of love based on scientific evidence to neurotransmitter responses in their brains.

Or check this out this non-scientific response: One definition of true love is the willingness to sacrifice your own life for the one you love, it’s not news that countless dogs and cats too have done this.

So, how can you tell if you pets love you? Dogs and cats are always communicating with us. Still, how do you know when they’re saying “I love you.?” Here are five ways to tell:

1. Do your pets want to be with you, and lie against you or in your lap, whether you’re reading a book, watching TV or sleeping in bed? Some individuals don’t want that close contact but still desire to be in your presence.

2. Is your pet happy to see you after an absence? Dogs are famous for greeting their favorite people with pure joy, even when that absence is a one-minute walk to the mailbox. Cats may communicate excitement differently than dogs, excited greeting might be to nonchalantly get up from a cozy catnap to wander over to rub against your leg or even to run in the opposite direction and scratch, which demonstrates excitement. Dogs and cats may respond to seeing you with the Zoomies or an invitation to play.

3. When you talk to your pets do they respond? That response might be vocal, but dogs and cats have a wide range of non-verbal responses. Of course, cats may purr or meow and dogs may a long repertoire of vocalizations. A cat may also walk circles around you, depositing happy facial pheromones with a tail standing straight up in the air or looking like a question mark. A pup may offer a play bow, a happy wagging tail and/or a butt wiggle.

4. Ever see a couple on TV, or in real life – and they look at one another with absolute adoration – you can tell they love one another. Dogs often look at their very favorite people the same way, sometimes referred to as soft eye contact (as a opposed to a threatening stare). Cats might do this too. Cats typically will stare for shorter periods of time, and then slowly blink.

5. Dogs and cats actually lick our faces (“giving kisses”) for many reasons. Lip licking – in general – in dogs may be a sign of anxiety. In cats and dogs might even mean the animal is nauseous.  However, licking our faces (unless you just ate a tuna sandwich) is typically a sign of affection.

You don’t need to have all five of the above. Frankly, if you think your dog or cat loves you – you’re probably right.

While it’s not always the case – in general if you love your dog or cat – they will love you back tenfold, and may do so unconditionally. I suggest they may have a more dependable love to give than your average human.