In recent years, many studies on the role of oxytocin (OXT) in the onset of parental care, regulation of social bonding, and modulation of the emotional state have been published. However, its possible regulation of maternal behavior in lactating dogs has not been investigated yet. For this reason, the present study aimed at assessing potential correlations between salivary oxytocin and maternal behavior in 25 lactating Labrador Retriever dogs. Salivary concentrations of OXT (sOXT) were unrelated to the amount of maternal care except for a weak negative correlation with sniffing/poking behavior. Moreover, sOXT was positively correlated with the percentage of male puppies. Sniffing/poking behavior, in turn, was positively correlated with the duration of time the mothers spent out of the whelping box, while the number of male puppies showed a positive correlation with lateral nursing, a position known to provide puppies the easiest access to the milk. Taken together, these results suggest that sOXT may not be strongly associated with maternal care dynamics but could be correlated with sex-biased parental investment in dogs.

The Influence of Oxytocin on Maternal Care in Lactating Dogs

Ogi, Asahi
Primo
;
Mariti, Chiara
Secondo
;
Baragli, Paolo;Gazzano, Angelo
Ultimo
2021-01-01

Abstract

In recent years, many studies on the role of oxytocin (OXT) in the onset of parental care, regulation of social bonding, and modulation of the emotional state have been published. However, its possible regulation of maternal behavior in lactating dogs has not been investigated yet. For this reason, the present study aimed at assessing potential correlations between salivary oxytocin and maternal behavior in 25 lactating Labrador Retriever dogs. Salivary concentrations of OXT (sOXT) were unrelated to the amount of maternal care except for a weak negative correlation with sniffing/poking behavior. Moreover, sOXT was positively correlated with the percentage of male puppies. Sniffing/poking behavior, in turn, was positively correlated with the duration of time the mothers spent out of the whelping box, while the number of male puppies showed a positive correlation with lateral nursing, a position known to provide puppies the easiest access to the milk. Taken together, these results suggest that sOXT may not be strongly associated with maternal care dynamics but could be correlated with sex-biased parental investment in dogs.
Ogi, Asahi; Mariti, Chiara; Pirrone, Federica; Baragli, Paolo; Gazzano, Angelo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1100642
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