People keep animals for a whole lot of reasons, as a friend, a family member or even as a protection. In this article, you will learn all about the animals we bond with and keep for pleasure and companionship, what makes them so likable and popular, how to care for them and why you should have pets.
What are pets?
Introduction and history
You know those animals that you adopt or bring home because of their fluffy hairs, fun and active personality and even their ability to cuddle and protect you, without causing harm to you, those are pets. Pets are usually animals that can be domesticated or tamed.
Animal domestication is said to be probably what led to the advent of pets. It has been suggested that wild animals that wandered and got captured were kept back then as pets. Take a wolf, for instance, some researchers believe that through domestication, they eventually evolved over time developing smaller noses and less sharp teeth. Then, they were eventually purposely bred as dogs to assist with herding, guarding, and hunting.
Though nobody can actually determine when humans began to keep animals as pets, dogs have been said to be one of the earliest if not the first domesticated animals. Cats are said to have been domesticated around 7500BC in the Near East, and once they were domesticated, they became popular and were universally worshipped. Eventually, as more uses for animals were discovered, such as horses and donkeys for transportation and carrying heavy loads, the importance and practical use of pets became widespread and some pets were then deliberately bred for a variety of reasons besides companionship.
Pet population growth
According to American Pet Products Association, more than 65% percent of households in the US (nearly 85 million households) is home to one or more pets. This population is still on the rise and will continue to increase in years to come because people are beginning to see the benefits to having pets, especially for the aging population. The growth in the pet population can also be attributed to people owning more than one pet per household.
Pets have evolved from being mere distractions or a source of entertainment. Millennials (18-34 years old age group) have taken a keener interest in pets with the advent of technology and social media. Besides thinking it’s good practice for having a family, they also want to take shots of their cute, furry pets and upload them on their social media pages.
As people get older, and as the human population increases, the pet population and the overall rate of pet ownership too also increases. In the US, at the end of 2019, pet population and ownership grew by almost 9 million over the past decade. And, in the midst of the lockdown and staying at home caused by the 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, there might be a surge in pet population and an increase in pet ownership of these companionable creatures.
Why should you own a pet? Top 5 reasons
There are a lot of benefits attached to having a pet. You’re not just providing a home for these animals where they get love and attention, you are also actually improving the quality of life for not just you but your household in countless ways.
In a way, you can say that the relationship between a pet and its owner is a symbiotic or mutualistic one. Both parties seem to reap the benefits of being together.
1. Improving your health physically and mentally:
There are so many health benefits of being a pet owner. They create opportunities to exercise, increase fitness, and bring happiness to their owners. Regular walking or playing with pets can improve overall physical status, decrease stress, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Also, walking your dog essentially means that you are walking too, and what better and simpler exercise is there than walking?
Pets help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship. Do you know that some animals have been medically approved as therapy animals? They are mostly cats or dogs, and they are introduced to elderly people in nursing homes, veterans dealing with PTSD, and children in hospitals. They have been trained to provide companionship and help patients cope with the emotional issues that could arise from their illness.
2. Better social life:
Besides the health benefits of having pets, they can also impact your social life and create room for socialization. If you are the type with few friends and fewer social activities, having pets not only gives you places to visit but also creates opportunities to meet people.
When you go to the park or the vet, or perhaps you go to a grooming salon, chances are that you will meet someone who will stop to admire your pet and talk with you. Also, you can easily be able to strike up a conversation with someone you meet walking their dog when you’ve got yours with you too. What do you talk about? Your pets can be a good icebreaker or a great conversation starter.
3. Pet helps you to enhance your mood when you are down:
Pets over time become attuned to the emotions, attitudes, and behaviors of their owners. Dogs, for instance, can understand their owners’ moods by understanding their body language, interpreting their tone of voice and gestures. The presence of a pet can bring some level of happiness despite the feeling of depression, sadness, or moodiness. Some pets would go as far as to play tricks and goof around to get you laughing or get you out of your funk.
Playing with a pet can elevate the level of the ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brain, dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin that are responsible for how happy we feel. Hugging and stroking your pet soothes you and provides a sense of calm when you’re anxious or stressed out. Even watching your fish swim has been said to provide sensory stress relief.
4. Pets are good friends for your kids:
It gives your kids a sense of responsibility and teaches them to work and plan if from an early age your child learns to help you in feeding, walking and bathing the family pet. They can even make it easier for your kids to fall asleep at night by aiding in burning off their extra energy. Just like pets would be a great companion for you, they would also make great friends for your kids. Kids naturally love animals, and since pets can’t criticize them or give orders, they offer a sense of security to kids.
Researchers have also found that having pets especially cats in the home improves the immune system of your kids and reduces the likelihood of the children developing allergies and asthma. Pets have also been used to help developmentally challenged children learn easier. Horses are used in sensory integration activities with children with autism.
If you have shy or scared children, you can check out this list of 5 best dogs for scare child
5. Providing protection:
Some animals have this innate or instinctual desire to defend and protect what they love and are loyal or faithful to. Some animals are purposely bred simply for their strong protective instincts and their tough physique. The loyalty of dogs makes them great for protection, but this still depends on the breed. Some breeds are good guard dogs, herd dogs in farming, police dogs in search and rescue, sniffing for drugs and explosions.
When dogs sense an imminent threat, you would find them growling, barking incessantly, baring their teeth, running back and forth, and the hairs along the nape of their neck would stand up. You should probably investigate your environment or call for help at this point.
Parrots are also good for protection as they are both territorial and verbal. They would be able to warn you of any danger. Cats would also hiss, alerting you when they sense danger or feel threatened.
Top 5 most popular kinds of pets
Popular pets are usually those that have relatable personalities, attractive appearance, and are active and fun. Dogs and cats are the two most popular pets. They are the animals that most people would consider first when choosing a pet, and they actually do end up making some of the best pets. Even though not every pet is suitable for every human because of certain allergies and other compatibility factors, there are still some pets that consistently rank high on the popularity list. Below is a list of the top 5 most popular pets and why:
Dogs are the most preferred kind of pets. They are even referred to as man’s best friends, and this is because of their fun, and active personality. They are loyal and faithful, easy to train, and inexpensive to keep. They are great around kids and would protect your home. It is also a plus that you can take them almost anywhere.
There are numerous breeds to choose from, each with its unique characteristics and temperament which suit different owners’ situation and personality.
The most common dog breeds are German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Beagle, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Poodles, Boxers, Great Danes, Shih Tzu, and many others.
Domestic cats are animals that are not just furry creatures that like to cuddle and curl up on humans, they are also the best at rodent and pest control in homes. Unlike dogs, they are quiet and they don’t need to be taken outside to be walked or to relieve themselves. They are well domesticated and are generally simple to care for as they self-groom and keep themselves clean.
There are also different breeds of cats to choose from, like the Maine Coon, Persian, Minskin, Siamese, Himalayan, etc.
If you are planning to own a cat, you can check out this list of 5 best cat breeds for first time owners.
This animal has successfully garnered its way to the top as the third most popular pet. Though you can’t walk a fish or cuddle with them, there’s a pleasure that comes with watching them swim around in their aquarium or fishbowl. Betta fish, Goldfish, Angelfish, Guppies, Mollies, Neon Tetras, etc., are among the most common fish species that are usually kept as pets.
The many types of birds with their own unique features make this an amazing candidate for a household pet. There are the canaries with their singing capability and the parrots and macaws that are talking birds. They are surely enough to keep anyone entertained, especially when you decide to teach them tricks. Most companion birds outlive their owners as they have very long lifespans. So, as a pet owner, you might never have to go through the pain of losing a beloved pet.
Although they might seem like an unlikely choice as pets when compared to dogs and cats, reptiles like turtles, snakes, and lizards appeal to people allergic to fur and hairs. While snakes might seem dangerous, they are quite fascinating as well, and they can be great companions. Some reptiles might even raise their necks to be petted. It’s also a plus that they are not as loud as dogs. Or as messy.
Reptiles can live as long as 20 years and more. They are among the longest-living animals in the world. Even though there are over 2000 species of snakes in the world, not all species can be kept as a pet. The most commonly kept ones are Red-tail Boa, Ball Python, King snake, Milk snake, etc.
Other kinds of a pet include monkeys, rabbits, horses, small animals like hamsters and guinea pigs, rats and mice, snails, salamanders, tarantulas, crab and lots more.
Note: Rabbits aren’t readily considered as a choice for pets because they require a lot of attention and care and because they are sensitive and fragile. They react easily to small changes and can get ill or worse, die. Their bones are so delicate.
What are the factors that you need to consider before becoming a pet owner?
Choosing the right kind of pet to bring into your home is not a decision to be taken lightly. It is as important a decision as choosing to becomea pet owner. It comes with responsibilities and will affect and impact the quality of your life.
Before you bring a pet home, there are some factors to consider to determine if the particular animal is compatible with you and your household. This way, you avoid some unpleasant circumstances in the future. You have to make sure the pet is the right fit for you and your family.
Kinds of pet that are suitable for you:
Now you know the various kinds of animals that are safe for you to keep as pets, you have to understand the pros and cons of having such animals in your house. Study the physical features of that animal. Learn its growth pattern. If it is going to eventually get very big as it grows, do you have enough space in your home to accommodate it? Do reptiles appeal more to you? Or is it birds? Then, go for it.
Adopting or buying:
The decision of whether to buy or adopt a pet is very important. Buying from a breeder would guarantee that you have exactly the breed you want. However, it has been reported that many animals are being euthanized every year because of the low rate of adoption. It is advisable not to get your pets from pet stores and breeders because you will be supporting the problem of overpopulation, and an amateur breeder can unwittingly breed dogs with genetic health issues that can be passed down litter after litter.
It is good to adopt a pet because it is not only less expensive but by adopting from rescue groups or animal shelters, you are creating more room for other rescued homeless animals and saving the life of the one you adopt.
How much time you can spend on your pet?
Owning a pet can sometimes seem like a full-time job, especially if you have more than one pet or a high-maintenance pet. You have to consider if you will be willing to put in the hours required to properly care for your preferred pet. Will your social life or work affect your ability to care for it? Do you have enough time to properly care for and clean up after the pet? Also, is there another person besides you who can be responsible for the dog’s care, should in case you have to travel?
Cost of owning a pet:
Owning a pet is more than just getting one and naming it. To really reap the benefits of a pet, you have to ensure it is well taken care of. This entails regular grooming and visit to the Vet. How much will it cost you to have to take your pet to the vet or grooming salon? So, you have to get as much information as possible about the medical predisposition of the breed or species of your pet. If it should encounter any medical issues, will it be expensive to treat?
You have to consider how long the animal will live. What would it eat? What is the cost of its food? The answers to all these are essential towards making your final decision on which pet to go for.
Allergies and children:
Getting a large pet might be dangerous in a home with children and elderly ones. They could get knocked over. Tripping over pets can result in injuries and broken bones. Do you have allergies? What about those living with you? This is an important factor when you have people with weak immune systems in your home. You might want to stay away from animals that shed a lot or get dirty easily or go after smaller animals or pests. They can easily carry zoonotic diseases that can be passed and spread to humans.
You have to also consider what you expect from your pet. Why do you want a pet? Do you want a running and hiking buddy, or do you want a cuddle buddy? Do you need a pet that you can trust withyour children? Or do you want a pet that follows you all around the house?
Knowing and understanding all of these factors will assist you in selecting the kind of pet that’ll be the right fit for you and members of your home.
What types of care does your pet need?
Pets require attention and care to remain happy and healthy just like human being. The type of care given might vary depending on the type of pet. But generally, all pets regardless of the kind of animal require a comfortable place to sleep, a regular visit to the vet, clean water and healthy food, and regular exercise.
1. Clean water and healthy food:
Pets have nutritional needs that and there are high-quality foods designed to meet their needs. Providing the necessary good and high-quality foods and clean water in the right proportion is vital for the good health and longevity of your pet.
2. Safe and comfortable home:
Keep a clean and hygienic environment for your pets. Provide them with the right shelter. Reptiles should be kept in a terrarium (a glass tank). Birds and rodents require cages. Dogs and cats should have beds, and fishes should have a fishbowl or an aquarium. These would be where they’re most comfortable. Also, ensure that any enclosure is secure.
3. Bathroom and grooming:
Hygiene requirements vary for pets and even among breeds of pets. Some pets require being walked and taken outside to relieve themselves. Some require regular bath time. Some shed a lot and require regular brushing with good quality pet shampoo. Some pets would self-groom, like cats, and are low maintenance pets.
However, if you do not have the time to properly groom and bathe your pet at home, you can always send them to the grooming salon for professional grooming.
4. Regular exercise:
Exercise keeps your pets healthy and also tackles some behavioral issues that might arise as a result of excess energy. Exercise tires them and leaves them better behaved. If you have pets that can be taken outside on a stroll, then do so. Take them for a walk every day for at least half an hour, but ensure their collars are always on at all times and that they are also kept on a leash.
Even training and playing with your pet can be a form of exercise. Get toys for them that would make them move their bodies.
5. Health checkup
Pets can sometimes carry harmful germs that can be passed to humans and make them sick even when the pet appears healthy. Provide them with the much needed and necessary vaccination on time. It is important you pay close attention to your pets. It usually shows in their energy level and behavior if something is wrong.
Regular health checkup is also vital in detecting any other abnormalities or medical conditions that can be managed stopped from escalating or treated with early detection like Cataracts, Diabetes, Uveitis, Glaucoma, and eye ulcer.
It’s a tough decision when it comes to choosing and owning a pet. However, now that you know the nitty-gritty through this crash course into the world of pets, the decision should be easier and would guide you in being a responsible pet owner.
You won’t go wrong with your choice if you keep in mind the factors stated in this article and you consider your strengths and capabilities. Whichever animal you decide to go for, they are all amazing and unique and would make a great addition to your home.