A pet is a trustworthy companion of a human being forever. It is an animal kept for a person’s company or entertainment and not as a working, livestock or a laboratory animal. Two of the most popular pets around the world are dogs and cats. The term for cat and dog lovers are Ailurophile and a Cynophile respectively. Some other animals commonly kept are rabbits, pigs, ferrets, rodents like hamsters chinchillas, rats, guinea pigs, parrots, reptile pets like turtles, aquatic pets like fish, freshwater and saltwater snails, amphibians like frogs and salamanders etc. A pet is kept by a person because he/she may have a special liking for that particular creature and for providing pleasure. A pet needs a lot of care and love to feel safe and healthy which if not provided can lead to it’s death. Pets provide their owners with both physical and emotional benefits. To take the dog for a walk can give dual benefits to both the man and the dog in the form of exercise, fresh air and social interaction. Pets provide companionship to people living alone or elderly adults who don’t take part in adequate social interactions with other people. There are medically approved therapy animals mostly cats and dogs that are brought to visit certain groups of confined humans like children in hospitals or elderly people in nursing homes. There is a therapy done with trained animals and their handlers to achieve specific physical, social, cognitive and emotional goals with patients. People mostly get pets for companionship, to protect a home or property or just because of the beauty and attractiveness of the animals. A study showed that the reason for not owning a pet were lack of ability to care when travelling(34.6%),lack of time(28.6%)and lack of suitable housing(28.3%) the least common being disliking pets(19.6%).
In China the spending on domestic animals has grown from $ 3.12 billion in 2010 to $25 billion in 2018.The Chinese people own 51 million dogs and 41 million cats.According to a study there are approximately 45 million pets which includes 7 million dogs,7.5 million cats,16 million fish fish and 12 million birds in Italy.
THE EFFECT OF DOMESTICATION OF PETS ON THEM
The keeping of pets may be detrimental to their health if certain rules are not followed.One important issue is inappropriate feeding which produces clinical effects. The consumption of chocolates or grapes by dogs may prove fatal. There are certain species of houseplants which too can prove to be toxic if consumed by pets.Examples include Philodendrons and Easter Lilies which cause severe kidney damage to cats and Poinsettias, Begonia and Aloe vera which are mildly toxic to dogs.The housepets specially dogs and cats in industrialized societies are also prone to obesity.The overweight pets are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, liver problems, joint pain, kidney failure and cancer. The primary contributors to pet obesity are lack of exercise and high-calorie diets.
THE EFFECT OF PETS ON THEIR MASTERS
Health benefits—It is believed that pets bring mental and physical health benefits to masters. Pets may have the ability to stimulate their caregivers especially the elderly, giving the people this chance to take care of someone,to exercise with and someone to help them heal from a physical or psychological trauma.Animal company can also help people to preserve some acceptable levels of happiness in spite of having mood symptoms like depression or anxiety. Keeping a pet can also help people achieve health goals such as lower blood pressure or mental goals like decreased stress. According to evidence having a pet can help a person lead a longer, healthier life. Keeping a pet showed to significantly reduce triglycerides and thus heart diseases mostly in the elderly.Keeping pets also showed to have a therapeutic effect in many dementia cases.The dogs trained to be guide dogs can help people with vision impairment.
PETS IN LONG-TERM CARE INSTITUTIONS
People residing in a long-term care facility like a nursing home can experience health benefits from pets.Pets help them to cope with the emotional issues relating to their respective illnesses.They also offer physical contact with another living creature that is very often missing in elderly people’s lives.The pets for nursing homes are chosen based on the size of the pet,the amount of care that the breed needs,the population and size of the care institution. The appropriate pets go through a screening process and if it is a dog additional training programs to become a therapy dog. There are 3 types of therapy dogs:-Facility therapy dogs,Animal assisted therapy dogs,Therapeutic visitation dogs.The most common therapy dogs are therapeutic visitation dogs. These dogs are household pets whose handlers take time to visit hospitals,nursing homes,detention and rehabilitation facilities.Different pets need different amounts of attention and care for eg,cats may have lower maintenance requirements than dogs.
Pets in addition to giving various health benefits to their owners also influence the social lives of their owners and their connection to their community.According to established evidence pets can facilitate social interaction.The pet ownership among the homeless showed that many homeless people modified their life activities for the fear of losing their pets.Pet ownership prompted them to act responsibly,with many of them choosing not to drink or use drugs or stop substance abuse and criminal activities.
HEALTH RISKS WITH KEEPING PETS
Health risks associated with pets include:-
1.Aggravation of allergies and asthma caused by dander and fur or feathers.
2.Falling injuries by tripping over pets.
3.Injury, mauling and sometimes death caused by pet bites and attacks.
4.Diseases or parasites because of animal hygiene problems,lack of appropriate treatment and undisciplined behavior.
5.Stress caused by the behavior of animals.
IMPACT OF ENVIRONMENT ON PETS
Pets have a good amount of environmental impact especially in countries where they are more common. For example, the 163 million dogs and cats kept in the US consume about 20% of the amount of dietary energy that humans do and an estimated 33% of the animal-derived energy.
TYPES OF PETS
Domesticated—The domesticated pets are most common. A domesticated animal is a species that has been made fit for a human environment by being kept in captivity and bred selectively for a long period of time so that it shows marked differences in behaviour and appearance from it’s wild counterparts.
Domestication is different from taming which is a process when an undomesticated wild animal is able to tolerate human presence and enjoy it simultaneously. Some of the domesticated mammals are—
Birds-Companion parrots like cockatiel,fowl like chickens,turkeys, ducks,geese,quails.
Fishes-Goldfish,Koi,Siamese fighting fish,barb
Arthropods-Bees like honey bees,stingless bees
There are some interesting facts about pets that make you love them and make you fall for the idea of keeping them as pets––
Pets have been an integral and very important part of our lives for a long time now.Cats have been domesticated since 3,600 B.C.E and dogs started becoming pets as far back as 30,000 years ago.Some surprising and ever interesting facts about them are–
1.Dogs pretend to be sick to get more attention from their owner.
2.Cats sleep for around 70% of their lives which measures upto 16 hours a day.
3.Dogs can smell when their owners are afraid by the help of their perspiration.
4.A cat’s brain is 90% to the human brain.
5.According to a study dogs can get jealous when their owners show fondness toward other creatures.
6.Happy rabbits like to hop and do a twist in the air.This act is also known as a ‘Binky’.
7.Cats can rotate their ears up to 180 degrees.
8.Dogs in Russia have taught themselves to ride the subway and can know which of the stops lead to food points.
9.Rats laugh when they are tickled.
10. Dogs have a sense of time and can get to know their schedules in terms of meal times and when they will be taken for a walk.
11.Female cats tend to be right-pawed and male cats tend to be left-pawed.
12.Dogs have a powerful sense of smell. They can be trained to detect certain diseases like cancer in humans by smelling metabolic waste products released by the cells.
13.Rabbit teeth never stop growing.
14.Dogs curl up when they sleep because of instinct…it helps to keep them warm and protect themselves.
15.Keeping a cat can lower the risk of stroke and heart attack three folds.
16. A man’s chance of getting a girl’s phone number triples when they’re with a dog.
17.After reaching maturity cats only meow to communicate with humans,normally only kittens meow to other cats.
18.Petting a puppy can help lower the blood pressure.
19.Rabbits clean themselves by licking their paws just like cats do.
20.Some dogs have been known to stop and smell certain plants.