Why People Love Their Dogs So Much, According to Science

05/12/2015 08:22 am ET | Updated May 14, 2015

By MaryAnn Barone

Whether it’s during a run through the park or after offering a treat, there’s no feeling like looking at your pet adoringly and getting a loving stare right back.

You don’t have to tell dog lovers the feeling is both mutual (and very real), but a new study published in the journal Science reveals the fascinating reason why we feel so close to our furry companions: When humans and dogs look into each other’s eyes, both get a boost of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which is the same hormone behind the special bond between new parents and their babies.

To reach their results, researchers had 30 dog-and-human pairs come into a lab to look in each other’s eyes and give urine samples. Oxytocin concentrations were then measured in the human and animal samples. In the end, the dogs had a 130 percent rise in oxytocin levels, and owners showed a 300 percent increase, regardless of gender.

Your pets do a lot more than just make you feel happiness and love: They can also help lower your cholesterol, relieve stress, and boost your self-esteem.

If this has finally convinced you it’s time to get a dog, do your research. Learn about active or hypoallergenic breeds, and don’t forget about the many shelter pets in need of homes!

Already have a dog? Now that it’s spring, get ready to hit the trails, beach, or sidewalk with your four-legged friend. Staying in shape is good for the both of you.

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