Vol. 7 No. 3 (2021)
Review Articles

Pet ownership: A brief Review

Dr Nafis I Assad Nafis

Published 2022-02-28


Dog has been recognised as a companion and friend by mankind through the major part of evolutionary history. Some of what has been considered a mere work animal or a vermin and even a pest in the past is today pampered and highly valued in households globally for enriching lives as pets. Pet is a term of endearment reflecting the bond people share with their companion animals [1].

Among various pets kept by people, dogs and cats are most popular. People also keep other domestic species as companion animals such as birds, rabbits, hamsters, horses, guinea pigs, ferrets, and gerbils. The trend of non-conventional pets such as snakes, wild game, fishes, lizards, and turtles is also picking up. According to Global Animal Medicines Association, there are 223 million dogs and 220 million cats worldwide, excluding strays. 68 % of North Americans live with at least one pet with 66 % of them considering pets as family members [2]. Over three quarter of children in the United States live with pets. In Canada, 15% of families acquire pets every coming year [3]. The 2017-18 US Pet ownership and Demographics Sourcebook reveals that US alone has over 140 Million pets with each household spending around 165 dollars on their pets each year.   People usually keep pets for companionship, recreation and protection. However, the role of a pet keeps evolving during the evolution a family cycle. Pets can complement the family structure: sometimes having the role of a child; sometimes a working partner or companion. Pets can also act as replacement for family members by either augmenting or interfering with human dynamics [4]. In the present internet based computer driven life, where technology and social media has caught the imagination of one and all, pets are increasingly providing real life experiences to more and more people. It won’t be an over statement to mention that during the present times of physical and social distancing due to COVID-19, many people get their only real life experiences from their pets            .

People intuitively believe that they derive health benefits from relationships with their animal companions. Many scientific studies performed over past 25 years support this belief. Numerous studies have highlighted physiological, psycho-social and employment benefits of rearing and engaging pets.  In times of family transition, such as illness or death, pets support coping, resilience, and recovery. Pets also provide significant support and stability during the disruptions caused by the relocation of a family member [5]. Pets provide companionship and support, reduce stress and provide a sense of purpose to physically challenged human companions. Pets are actively integrated with everyday living. They participate in family rituals and ceremonies. Many families buy holiday gifts for their pets and often celebrate their birthdays.

In many instances, human health professionals contribute to the welfare of their patients by encouraging them to maintain bonds with their pets, even in the face of serious illnesses and other challenges. The significance of pets to human health has long been acknowledged by US National Institutes of Health. The consensus statement of NIH on the health benefits of pets concludes with a call for all future studies in human health to consider the presence or absence of a pet in the home and the nature of the relationship with the pet [5]

Of late the impact of pets on the employee-employer relationship and office performance has received much attention. Many companies including Google and Amazon are now allowing pet in their offices [7]. Today’s younger workers are particularly receptive to pet-friendly workplaces.

An overwhelming majority believe pets at work positively affect employees and company culture. In the Banfield Pet Hospital`s Pet-friendly workplace Pawrometer Survey in 2017, more than half of millennials surveyed said they would be far more likely to stay at a company that allows pets in the office. Friday following Father’s Day each year has been designated “Take Your Dog to Work Day” since 1999 [8].