Care . . . You gotta give it to 'em!
A pet is an animal kept for companionship and enjoyment or a household animal, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful characteristics, for their attractive appearance, or for their song. Pets also generally seem to provide their owners with non-trivial health benefits; keeping pets has been shown to help relieve stress to those who like having animals around. There is now a medically-approved class of "therapy animals," mostly dogs, that are brought to visit confined humans. Walking a dog can provide both the owner and the dog with exercise, fresh air, and social interaction.
Around 63 percent of all U.S. households (71.1 million) have pets, and more than half of these households have more than one animal. The two most popular pets in most Western countries have been cats and dogs. In the United States, a 2007-2008 survey showed that dog-owning households outnumbered those owning cats, but that the total number of pet cats was higher than that of dogs. The same was true for 2009-2010. Globally, cats are the most popular pets per household followed by dogs. Although the dog has always been considered "man's best friend", it seems that since cats were first domesticated, cats have usually outnumbered dogs in human civilizations worldwide.
Animal protection advocates call attention to pet overpopulation in the United States. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the country and many more are confined to cages in shelters. This situation is created by nonneutered animals (spayed/castrated) reproducing and people intentionally breeding animals. A particularly problematic combination of economic hardship combined with a love of animals contributes to this problem in parts of the rural United States.
Keeping animals as pets may become detrimental to their health if certain requirements are not kept. An important issue is the inappropriate feeding, which may produce clinical effects (like the consumption of chocolate by dogs). Passive smoking is another recurring problem, aggravated by the fact that fur animals groom themselves, which means taking in extra harmful substances that have landed on their fur, not just those inhaled.
Pets have the ability to stimulate their caregivers, in particular the elderly, giving people someone to take care of, someone to exercise with, and someone to help them heal from a physically or psychologically troubled past. Having a pet may help people achieve health goals, such as lowered blood pressure, or mental goals, such as decreased stress.There is evidence that having a pet can help a person lead a longer, healthier life. In a study of 92 people hospitalized for coronary ailments, within a year 11 of the 29 without pets had died, compared to only 3 of the 52 who had pets. A recent study concluded that owning a pet can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 2% and that pets are better than medication in reducing blood pressure. Owning a pet can also prolong survival of a heart attack. Dogs which are trained to be guide dogs can help people with disabilities.
Even pet owners residing in a long-term care facility, such as a hospice or nursing home, experience health benefits from pets. Pets for nursing homes are chosen based on the size of the pet, the amount of care that the breed needs, and the population and size of the care institution. Appropriate pets go through a screening process and, if it is a dog, additional training programs to become a therapy dog.
Different pets require varying amounts of attention and care; for example, cats have lower maintenance requirements than dogs.
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Pet Care Websites
For a lot of information about pet care,
you may care to refer to these websites:
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