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Dogs Experience a Runner’s High (But Ferrets Do Not)

Though the researchers didn't include cats in the study, they suspect that felines, too, would experience a runner's high

Photo: surfneng

Many runners pursue the sport for the reward that comes at the end of a race or long jog: the runner’s high. Researchers suspect that other animals adapted to run, like dogs, may experience this neurobiological response after a round of exercise, too. A group of University of Arizona researchers decided to test this hypothesis, publishing their results in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

The researchers decided to test how dogs, humans and ferrets experience the runner’s high, Discovery News writes. While dogs’ long, muscular legs are adapted for running, ferrets’ legs are not. Instead, those small carnivores tend to scamper around in short bursts.

The researchers made their human and animal subjects work out on a treadmill, then gaged the results by measuring levels of endocannabinoids, a type of neurotransmitter involved in a number of physiological processes and associated with sending reward signals to the brain.

Both the humans and the dogs’ levels of endocannabinoids spiked after their workout, but the ferrets lacked any measurable buzz. Though the researchers didn’t include cats in the study, Discovery writes, they suspect that felines, too, would experience a runner’s high.

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