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Maddie's Insights: Social Pain in Dogs

  • 1.  Maddie's Insights: Social Pain in Dogs

    Posted 08-16-2022 10:24 AM

    Maddie's Insights are monthly webcasts with practical tips based on current research to help pets and people. This month's webinar is presented by Dr. Franklin McMillan, DVM.

    Thursday, October 6, 2022 at 12n Pacific (60 minutes)


    The experience of unpleasant emotions is often referred to as "emotional pain", such as when someone loses a loved one. The emotions that arise when one's social bonds with another are impaired or lost – such as feelings of isolation, loneliness, and rejection – comprise one type of emotional pain, called "social pain". Recent research has found that the term "pain" is not just a metaphor, but is based on the finding that social pain is processed in the same brain regions where physical pain is processed. In addition, similar drugs can alleviate both physical and social pain. For social species, like elephants, horses, sheep, rats, guinea pigs, dogs, and humans, social pain plays a powerful role in one's well-being and quality of life. For today's domestic dog, the issue may be of greater importance than for any other species on Earth. Evidence indicates that through domestication the emotional bonding propensity of dogs toward humans has been greatly amplified, which appears to have resulted in both greater joy for dogs when in the company of humans, but also greater suffering when denied human companionship. Only by educating all those who care for dogs will "man's best friend" receive the care they so strongly deserve.

    After the webcast, join us right here on Maddie's Pet Forum to continue the discussion.

    This webinar will be recorded and has been pre-approved for 1.0 Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credits by The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and by the National Animal Care & Control Association.

    portrait of Dr. McMillan

    Franklin D. McMillan, DVM, served as the director of well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society from 2007 to 2020. In that role, his research involved the quality of life, mental health, and emotional well-being of animals who had endured hardship, adversity, and psychological trauma. He has published in scientific journals the first studies of dogs rescued from puppy mills, hoarding situations, and abusive environments. The work has included the psychological health of puppies born sold through pet stores or over the Internet. Before coming to Best Friends, he was in private practice for 23 years as well as clinical professor of medicine at the Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. McMillan is board- certified in the veterinary specialties of small animal internal medicine and animal welfare. He lectures worldwide and is the author of the textbook Mental Health and Well-Being in Animals (now in its 2nd edition) and a book for the general public titled Unlocking the Animal Mind.


    alison gibson
    Senior Media Specialist
    Maddie's Fund