Hemming and hawing about getting a dog? If you care about your health, it shouldn't even be a question. New science suggests that having a dog around has some pretty unique health benefits, from helping you sleep to protecting you from asthma, allergies, and possibly even eczema.
Around 3.3 million dogs enter shelters in the U.S. to await new loving forever homes every year, according to the ASPCA, and they're one of the most popular pets in America: it's estimated that there are currently 89.7 million pet dogs across the country, from tiny Pomeranians to massive Great Danes. Clearly, humans are getting a lot out of their time with their furry friends — and science is adding to our understanding of why.
The history of human-canine interactions is one of the most fascinating in interspecies history, because the evolution of dogs from wolves into animals who expressly interact and are codependent with humans is a hugely successful domestication story. (Cats, by contrast, followed an entirely different domestication pattern and are identified by scientists as only "semi-domesticated," confirming what every cat owner has always known.) The closeness of the human-dog relationship means that they get a lot of attention, and we're increasingly discovering that keeping a pooch around has benefits beyond the simplicity of companionship and an animal to bring you your slippers (or chew on them adorably).