Dogs v. Rats: The Fight For Our Affection

In science 200 today we heard about how one of the ways that we discovered the connection between lung cancer and smoking cigarettes. Myself as well as many of my classmates were horrified to hear that beagles were forced to inhale smoke in order for scientists to examine the effects of tire nicotine on the lungs. In many class discussions Andrew will refer to an experiment in which rats were used. In fact, prior to hearing about the Beagle study, Andrew discussed at the class the study in which tarr was applied to the back of rats. The study showed that when applied at often the tarr caused cancerous tests. So why is it that we get upset when dogs are used in experiments but not when rats are?


Depending on where you are from, you view animals differently. In North America we cherish dogs and cats as domesticated members of our family.  In places such as the Middle East and certain Asian countries dogs are viewed as unclean in the way that we’ve used rats and mice in the United States.  Most households in United States have at least one pet.  The most common pets in United States are as follows:  dog, cat, fish, birds, horses. Some people have pets to control test environment while others have pets as companions. It is proven that certain interactions between humans and dogs can release a hormone called oxytocin to the brain. This has been demonstrated with cats and dogs but not mice and rats. This release of hormones explains the inevitable connection that we feel with dogs, which also explains why we do not feel this Strong connection to rats and mice. This lack of endorphins accounts for our indifference towards the use of rats in scientific experiments and studies.




4 thoughts on “Dogs v. Rats: The Fight For Our Affection

  1. Meredith Herndon

    I’ve read before that the main reasoning behind why humans find certain things attractive or cute is based on how much like humans they are and how symmetrical they’re faces are. In the sense of animals, I don’t belief that the symmetry of a dogs face versus a rats face affect our perception of them. But, I do think that how human like something is can effect it. In the case of dogs and cats, their eyes are much larger than that of a rats. While there are probably other factors, I do think that how we relate to the animal does play a role in our perception of their cuteness.

  2. Cassandra N Kearns

    During class, I was incredibly disturbed when he showed the images of the Beagles being forced to inhale smoke. Though, you do make a good point of why we don’t feel as bad when he shows images of rats being used as test subjects. I also do not recall Andrew showing an image of rats being used in such a forceful manner. I know that images of animals being used for makeup and body product testing is incredibly disturbing as well. I am not sure I agree that only dogs and cats release this hormone within us. I believe that all animals are capable of having us release a ‘love’ hormone. I also think that seeing animals in pain and suffering creates a strong emotion within humans, but not with any animal in particular. Therefore, I am not sure I completely agree with your argument that the lack of endorphins creates an indifference between the animals.

  3. Jeffrey R Nelson

    I thought this was really interesting, because I never actually stopped to think why everyone is so accepting of experimentation on rats and mice and not other animals. Your assertion about the release of oxytocin is something that I had heard of before but never realized how much of an impact it has on our interactions with domesticated animals. I believe that everything in life is relative, and some people might experience oxytocin release when they interact with a mouse or rat while others might not. Something interesting to think about,

  4. Taylor M Lender

    The beagle experiment made me feel sad today too. After seeing your adorable rat and dog picture, I feel like jerk for not having the same sympathy for the lab rats. When researching for this paper, did you find any alternatives to animal testing?

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