If you have ever gazed into your beloved dog’s eyes and felt that you found love there, you were right.

Now a hormone has been found that indicates that we love our pets in the same way as we love our children – and the feeling is mutual: our pets love us back in the same way.

Researchers have found that the levels of the hormone oxytocin increase in both human and canine brains when a dog is gazing at its owner.

Oxytocin is already known to play a strong part in triggering that feeling of unconditional love and protection that a parent and child enjoy.

Scientists believe that oxytocin may create a ‘neural feedback loop’ that has strengthened the bond between humans and dog for centuries.

“They became attuned to our social cues in the way that young children are.

When dogs are presented with an impossible task they quickly turn to humans to see what to do, just like children do. Wolves don’t do that, even when raised in captivity.”

The study was published in the journal Science.