What are Pets?
Pets are essentially animals that humans adopt or buy for companionship and other purposes. There are various types and species of animals that humankind has gradually domesticated and made pets of them over decades, maybe even centuries.
Despite that, the first animal likely to come to your mind when asked, ‘What is a pet?’ is probably a dog. You wouldn’t be wrong. However, dogs are only one of the different animals that are kept as pets.
Moreover, dogs may serve different purposes too! Hold your horses. We’ll cover the different types of pets in this article too!
In this article, we will cover questions about pets as we know them today and their history and pretty much everything you need to know before you get a pet for yourself.
Definition of ‘Pet’
Pet people will define a pet as an animal that belongs to their family and whom they love. However, on the more technical side, Britannica defines a pet as an animal that is kept by human beings as their source of companionship and pleasure.
Britannica also goes on to mention that even though human beings adopt or buy pets primarily for their enjoyment, studies have found the relationship between man and his pet to be a symbiotic one.
This is because even pet animals derive pleasure from being a companion to man! A prominent example of this symbiotic relationship can be seen in dogs.
Dogs are one of the most loyal pets a man can have, and at the same time, dogs thoroughly enjoy being man’s best friend.
Today, the ambit of having a pet goes above and beyond the traditional concept of pure companionship. While it is undoubtedly true that pets bring both physical and emotional advantages to their owners, pets can do so much more today.
For example, walking a dog can give exercise, fresh air, and social interaction for both humans and dogs. Pets can provide companionship to persons who live alone or older people who do not have enough social interaction.
There is an entire field of psychotherapy that makes use of pets as ‘therapy animals. Pet therapy refers to the use of trained animals and handlers to help patients attain specific physical, social, cognitive, or emotional goals.
Basically, therapy animals, typically dogs or cats, are medically approved and trained animals brought to visit confined humans, such as youngsters in hospitals or elders in nursing homes.
Pet therapy also refers to the use of trained animals and handlers to help patients attain specific physical, social, cognitive, or emotional goals.
History and Origin of Pets
The fact is that pets have been a part of man’s families for millennia. There is strong archaeological evidence to suggest that man began adopting dogs as far back as in the prehistoric period.
The concept of keeping a pet is not new. In fact, there is evidence to hint at the fact that humankind began keeping pets over thirty thousand years ago.
The concept of having pets is likely to have started with companion dogs that could also help with hunting and guarding the homes of men.
Scientists say it began in European hunting camps where an ancestral species of the modern-day dog, called the paleolithic dog, was used as a hunting companion. Since then, dogs have, of course, evolved.
But this research tells us that man used to enjoy having pets even thirty millennia ago!
The ancient Roman and Greek civilizations were known to be fans of keeping dogs as pets. In fact, even the ancient Egyptian civilization adored dogs and even worshipped them as gods.
Having said that, archaeological expeditions have found remains of commemorative tombstones that were dedicated to family dogs.
Even horses became popular pets because of how crucial they were for practical purposes such as traveling or going to war. Dogs and baboons were kept as pets in Ancient Egypt and buried with their owners as a tribute to lifelong loyalty.
Victorian era: the rise of modern pet-keeping
It was in the Victorian Era that people began keeping and adopting pets purely for their pleasure and enjoyment. It’s no secret that maintaining a pet requires money.
People abundantly understood this in the Victorian era when having pets was a typical sign of a bourgeoisie background.
Gradually, as people began earning more wealth, the so-called middle class began popularising the concept of pets as more and more people bought and adopted animals.
The Present Day
Today, countless people all over the globe look for pets that aren’t necessarily dogs. Animals like snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, bearded dragons, rodents, birds, horses, and of course, dogs and cats are popular pet options.
While some cost more to maintain than others, the predominant idea behind having pets is still for companionship and affection – two emotions that are crucial to the well-being of humanity.
The Effects of Keeping Pets
Apart from the effects of keeping a pet on your health and your pet animal’s health (which we will explore in detail further), pets have an immense impact on the larger picture of the world.
You read that correctly. As vital as they are to the human race on an emotional level, Pets actually have a significant hand in keeping the world running!
Animals became a part of the human communities within urban sects of society after the Victorian Era. People wanted pets, not only as companions but also as social statements.
As the demand for pets rose, entrepreneurs created specific pet stores dedicated to selling items that pet owners would want.
These entrepreneurs saw pet ownership as a lucrative business opportunity. High demand for animal goods such as accessories and pet-keeping instructions arose due to the appeal of pet animals.
By the end of the nineteenth century, pet care had grown into a large industry, which continues to expand at astonishing rates today. In 2020, the pet care market in the United States of America alone was worth over two hundred and thirty-two billion US Dollars!
One industry that has continued to grow even during the coronavirus pandemic is the pet care industry.
The concept of having pets as companions is so highly desired today that the world has numerous petting zoos too. These zoos are specially set for people to enjoy a few hours of animal companionship.
Apart from the conventional types of pet animals such as dogs and domestic cats, people can even enjoy the company of ordinarily vicious wild animals such as lions and tigers.
Unfortunately, not all petting zoos follow ethical practices with respect to how they treat their animals. Still, their existence shows us exactly how essential pet animals are crucial to people and national economies.
Having pets can help you make more friends. It’s not just us saying that to make this article more lovable!
Harvard University published a research program that examined the effect pets had on the socialization of people and found that people that owned a pet were sixty percent more likely to meet new people and make friends than people who didn’t own a pet in the same neighborhood!
Delving into the historical significance of the importance of pets in society with respect to socialization, throughout the nineteenth century, pets and animals had social and cultural consequences.
The Victorian era’s hierarchical order was represented in the segmentation of dogs by breeds. The pedigree of a dog emphasized the owner’s high position and heritage, reinforcing social stratification.
On the other hand, middle-class pet owners prized the potential to associate with the upper-class by owning a pet. Respectability and self-sufficiency were associated with the ability to care for a pet.
Types of Pets
Today, you can adopt or even buy a pet from a pet shop for a specific need that you might have. In contrast, some people get pets for amusement and pleasure while others prefer an animal in their homes as a companion or friend.
Some people also bring home dogs, cats, hamsters, pet rats, birds, and fish for therapeutic purposes. You will find that people who buy or adopt pets for their therapy tend to choose cats and dogs since these are animals that you can have constant interaction with.
You will find plenty of research that discusses the mitigating effects of loneliness in adults due to the companionship of a pet. On the other hand, you can also find people who buy pets purely for their social value because of it.
Having said that, we have created a list of a few types of pets that you can consider bringing into your home!
Traditional pets are those that have been domesticated for the purpose of living as pets. They are mainly bred in captivity and haven’t spent much time in the wild. Typically, you think of commonly found animals like dogs, cats, fish, and hamsters when you hear the word “pet.”
However, most of the traditional pet animals that we know today result from generational domestication. Our ancestors were able to tame these creatures because of their natural shorter lifespan, efficient fertility cycles that made it easier to breed them.
Moreover, it was easy to look after them due to their adaptability to varying environments and to feed them the food these pet animals wanted.
You can think of exotic pets as those pet animals that don’t belong in their owners’ environment.
Additionally, exotic pets could also be defined as animals that have not been sufficiently domesticated to be traditional pets. These include animals that belong to the families of amphibians, birds, rodents, reptiles, rodents, and insects.
Most Common Pet Animals
The most common pet animal is easily a pet dog. The number of households that have a dog outnumbers the following two most popular pet animals – cats and fish.
This is no surprise since it was dogs that were first domesticated by humankind. With 343 breeds to choose from, there are over 471 million pet dogs across the globe today.
Following pet dogs, the next most popular pet is a cat. The concept of keeping cats as pets stemmed in the United Kingdom, and since then, the idea of keeping cats as house pets has become glaringly popular.
Fish are another extremely common type of pet. In fact, the number of fish that are marked as pets in home aquariums outnumbers the number of pet dogs.
However, you should remember that one household usually has more than five different fish in their aquarium. Recently, the pet industry has also seen a sharp increase in keeping exotic animals such as iguanas and snakes as pet animals.
What Do You Need to Consider Before Getting a Pet?
Getting home a pet is not as black and white as you’d think it to be. Rather, it would be best if you put in some serious thought because your pet is a sentient being that will be living its days out with you.
We have compiled a checklist that you can use while still planning to get home a pet for your ready reference.
The Size of Your Home
One factor that you will need to consider before heading to the pet store to bring home your new pet animal is the amount of room it will demand and whether or not your home is large enough to meet its needs.
For example, cats and dogs are free to wander and need a decent amount of space to be comfortable, but fish and exotic pets require housing that mimics their natural environment. Therefore, you will need only enough room to fit an aquarium or a glass enclosure.
You can’t simply let them loose in your house because these animals can carry diseases that are harmful to humans.
If you need to buy a cage or tank, consider how big your pet will grow and whether your home has enough space to comfortably accommodate housing that will fulfill your animal’s physical space demands in the long run.
Depending on the species, adopting multiples of the same animal may necessitate a larger home to share or separate homes.
If your house is small, you can consider pets like toy dogs and hamsters that don’t require much space, even as adults. Moreover, you can get the companionship that you want! You can consider larger animals such as big pet dogs or giant reptiles if your house is large.
Necessary medical Costs
Vaccinations are required for cats and dogs, as well as many exotic pets. Don’t think that little pets like fish are easy to care for because they have lesser demands daily.
The fact is that small animals often require a specific kind of medical approach that not every veterinarian will be able to provide. Therefore, you need to find a veterinarian who specializes in treating your particular pet by doing some research.
Further, you must be able to answer questions like ‘what food can my dog eat, what food should I feed my hamsters or guinea pigs, whether certain foods are forbidden for my pet animal, will I require professional training for my pet.’
We have a comprehensive list of blogs that thoroughly cover such topics to make this aspect more effortless for you.
If you have long hours at work, have an active social life, and travel frequently, you should probably reconsider having a dog or cat. Dogs and cats are animals that require and love attention.
They expect you to play with them and interact with them on a regular basis. Leaving your pet dog or cat alone for long hours can lead to a variety of behavioral issues.
Before you pick a pet you want to bring home, you need to find one that can find itself to be comfortable in your schedule without turning your life upside down.
It would be best if you also remembered that buying or adopting a pet from a pet store is a long-term commitment. Once you bring home your pet animal, you are responsible for giving them the best life that you can!
Your commitment to managing a schedule for years altogether will be a deciding factor for what kind of a pet animal you can bring home.
Caring for animal babies
Caring for animal babies is a meticulous and delicate process. At times you might have to bottle feed them milk every few hours. At other times you will have to ensure they get medical attention as soon as they need it.
The process of caring for animal babies becomes more efficient if you know what you are expected to do for your pet animal and when you have a good veterinary practitioner.
Caring for adult pets
Caring for adult pets is much easier since they usually know what they are expected to do. As they get older, you will have to put more effort and attention toward their health care. Most importantly, it would be ideal if you were empathetic and patient with your aging pet.
Low Maintenance Pets
Low maintenance pets are the ideal pets for you if you can’t spend too much time or energy at home and yet want the companionship of an animal!
We have compiled a list of some animals that you can consider if you want a low-maintenance pet!
- Sea monkeys
- Guinea Pigs
- Leopard Geckos
- Bearded Dragons
- Some types of toads and frogs
You must do your research regarding what kind of care these animals need and whether you can afford the time and money to give them a healthy life.
Effects of Pets on Caregiver’s Health
Research has shown that keeping pets can be highly beneficial for you. Having a pet portends not only physical benefits but also benefits for your mental health. Having said that, some pets may not be healthy for your body.
Health Benefits of Keeping a Pet
The health benefits of keeping a pet have been researched extensively for the past three decades or so. Time and again, scientists have said that having a pet offers us a vast number of health benefits.
Having an animal like a dog can help strengthen not only your immune system but also your baby’s. Moreover, keeping pet animals is an effective way to tackle issues such as high blood pressure, cardiac stress issues, and mental stress.
Having a pet also gives you the opportunity to become more active in life, thereby keeping your body healthy.
As far as the mental health benefits are concerned, studies have shown that dogs and fish can be used as tools in treating depression for human beings.
Issues such as anxiety and panic disorders can be controlled with the calming presence of a pet animal that loves you with all its heart!
Health Risks for Pets
In today’s urban lifestyle, neglecting your pet’s health and requirements is unfortunately pretty commonly observed.
If you don’t care properly for your pets or over-commit to keeping a pet animal that simply doesn’t belong in a particular environment can prove to be disastrous for your pet.
Not only this, but keeping pets also means that you will have to address your pet’s health issues as they age or as they are required.
Some animals have tendencies for specific health risks. Purebred dogs are prone to hip dysplasia. Hamsters are prone to suffering from ringworm. Horses are prone to developing back issues in some cases, and so on.
Your veterinary practitioner is the best professional that will teach and train you regarding the health risks associated with your pet animal.
Health Risks of Keeping Pets
Some of the most common risks that are associated with having pets at your home –
- Allergies and asthma are worsened due to the presence of your pet’s fur or excreta.
- Chances of being injured due to tripping or falling over your pet increase if you aren’t careful.
- Pet bites and attacks can result in severe injury, and at times, even death.
- Animal hygiene issues, a lack of suitable treatment, and undisciplined behavior all contribute to disease or parasites that are introduced to your environment because of their excreta.
How Can You Train Your Pets?
The way you can train your pets will depend on what animal you have. For example, training a dog is considerably easier than training a cat.
When you bring home a pet, you should consider speaking with a professional animal behaviorist and trainer. They can help you choose a training plan and process that is ideal for your pet animal in the long run!
A Legal Perspective
The laws of ownership of certain animals as pets vary in different parts of the world. While in some countries, it is permissible to have exotic animals as pets and sell them at pet shops, other countries consider it to be a punishable offense.
Therefore, you must be aware of what animals you can keep as your pet. Be sure to check the certification and permission of pet shops to sell animals. Never engage in undocumented deals or under-the-table deals while buying a pet animal.
As a pet owner in all countries, you are also legally required to ensure that your pet is well-cared for. Many countries severely punish the ill-treatment and neglect of pet animals with hefty fines and imprisonment.
Further, some regions have an upper limit on how many pets or animals you can have. As long as you follow the law and rules of your country and treat your pet animal well, you can enjoy a life with your pet animal to love.
Pet Adoption FAQs
Where can I adopt a pet animal?
Depending on the country or state you plan to bring home a pet, you can find various not-for-profit organizations that give shelter and medical attention to abandoned animals and look for families willing to adopt a new pet. As a rule, you should try to adopt rather than buy pets. The animals at the shelter understand the privilege of living comfortably and will be forever grateful to you for making them a part of your family.
What pet supplies will you need?
For most animals, including dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and so on, you can buy commercially available food at your regular pet shop or pet store. Along with that, you should also try to include wholesome and nutritious natural foods into your pet’s diet after your veterinary practitioner declares it as healthy for your pet.
Should you keep a bird as a pet?
Birds are creatures with some needs that are difficult to meet if you keep them as pets. For example, it’s unethical to clip the wings of a parrot but keeping a bird with the ability to fly in a cage is just as unethical. Therefore, you can keep birds as pets only if you can commit to giving them a life as close to their natural way of life as possible.
What are different pet foods you can feed your pets?
Depending on what animal your pet is, you can find commercially available food at your local pet store, or you can feed it natural and nutritious foods as long as your vet approves of it.
What activities will your pet need?
In general, your pets will need activity. However, depending on which animal it is, your effort in ensuring that your pet gets that amount of activity will vary. For example, if you own a dog, you will have to walk it once or twice a day. But if you own a hamster, you can put a self-spinning wheel in its enclosure, which will take care of the activity it needs.