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||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with USA and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (February 2010)|
A pet (or companion animal) is an animal kept for a person's company, as opposed to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals and sport animals which are kept for economic reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their attractive appearances and their loyal or playful personalities. Their pedigree may also be a factor.
In some cases pets may also provide their owners with benefits, such as providing companionship to elderly adults who do not have adequate social interaction with other people. While some people believe in the physical and emotional benefits of owning a pet, scientists are currently working to verify these ideas with medical studies. There is now a medically approved class of "therapy animals", mostly dogs, that are brought to visit confined humans. Pet therapy utilizes trained animals and handlers to achieve specific physical, social, cognitive, and emotional goals with patients. Walking a dog can provide both the owner and the dog with exercise, fresh air, and social interaction.
The most popular pets are dogs and cats, but there are also rodent pets, such as gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas, fancy rats, and guinea pigs; avian pets, such as canaries, parakeets, and parrots; reptile pets, such as turtles, lizards and snakes; aquatic pets, such as tropical fish and frogs; and arthropod pets, such as tarantulas and hermit crabs.
Local restrictions 
Many cities and towns have local ordinances limiting the number of pets a person may have, although a certain number of animals may be kept for business purposes. They may also restrict or forbid certain pets, such as exotics. Certain breeds of dog, such as the pit bull and the Rottweiler, are banned in some places. Canid hybrids, created by breeding dogs with other members of the canine family, may be banned in some places. Semi-exotic cats, such as the Savannah, are also banned in some locations.
In many locations, animals that are considered pets by their owners but are legally classified as livestock, including horses, pigs, camelids, and fowl may be banned from being kept within the city limits or restricted to property of a certain larger size.
Condominium associations and rental properties often limit or forbid pets ownership by their tenants.
Pet popularity 
There are approximately 78.2 million pet dogs in the USA, and approximately 86.4 million pet cats in the USA. 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. In 2013, pets outnumber children four to one in the United States.
Most Popular Pets in the U.S (millions) Pet Global population U.S. population U.S. inhabited households U.S. average per inhabited household Cat 202 93.6 38.2 2.45 Dog 171 77.5 45.6 1.70 Fish N/A 171.7 13.3 12.86 Small mammals N/A 15.9 5.3 3.00 Birds N/A 15.0 6.0 2.50 Reptiles & Amphibians N/A 13.6 4.7 2.89 Equine N/A 13.3 3.9 3.41
Choice of a pet 
For a small to medium-size dog, the total cost over a dog's lifetime is about $7,240 to $12,700. For an indoor cat, the total cost over a cat's lifetime is about $8,620 to $11,275. People most commonly get pets for companionship, to protect a home or property, or because of the beauty or attractiveness of the animals. The most common reasons for not owning a pet are lack of time, lack of suitable housing, and lack of ability to care for the pet when traveling.
United States 
According to the 2007-2008 Pet Owners survey:
|Animal||Number of U.S. households
that own this kind of pet (millions)
|Total number of this kind of pet owned
in the U.S. (millions)
The latest survey done by Sunmin kim from estimates that there are 79 million cats and 59 million dogs in Canada. The survey also shows that 35% of Canadian households have a dog, while 38% have a cat, which is consistent with other surveys conducted around the world.
United Kingdom 
A 2007 survey by the University of Bristol found that 26% of UK households owned cats and 31% owned dogs, estimating total domestic populations of approximately 10.3 million cats and 10.5 million dogs in 2006. 47.2% of households with a cat had at least one person educated to degree level, compared with 38.4% of homes with dogs.
||The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (February 2010)|
Animal protection advocates call attention to pet overpopulation. According to the Humane Society of the United States, animal shelters care for about 6 to 8 million dogs and cats each year, but sadly approximately 3 to 4 million are euthanized. This situation is created by irresponsible pet owners that choose not to spay or neuter their pet(s). In addition, many strays are unaltered, which contributes to the problem. A fertile cat can produce up to two litters per year containing four to six kittens per litter, while a fertile dog can produce up to one litter per year containing four to six puppies per litter. ASPCA>. "ASPCA". Not every pet entering a shelter is a stray. Many pets are surrendered everyday because of reasons such as moving, cost, allergies, too many pets, no time for pet, illness, and personal problems. "National Council on Pet Population". "National Council on Pet Population". There are also major overpopulation problems with other pet species, such as birds and rabbits. Local humane societies, Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCAs), and other animal protection organizations urge people to spay or neuter their pets, as well as to adopt animals from animal shelters instead of purchasing them from breeders or pet stores.
Effects on pets' health 
Keeping animals as pets may become detrimental to their health if certain requirements are not kept. An important issue is inappropriate feeding, which may produce clinical effects (like the consumption of chocolate  by dogs). Among the foods that can be toxic to pets, are: avocados, alcohol, candy, caffeine, grapes and raisins, nuts, and onions. Passive smoking is dangerous for pets. Researchers have found that exposure to tobacco smoke has been associated with certain cancers in dogs and cats and allergies in dogs.
Effects of pets on their caregiver's health 
Health benefits 
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 patients without pets had died, compared to only 3 of the 52 patients who had pets. Pet ownership was shown to significantly reduce triglycerides, and thus heart disease risk, in the elderly. A study by the National Institute of Health found that people who owned dogs were less likely to die as a result of a heart attack than those who didn’t own one. Other studies have shown that for the elderly, good health may be a requirement of pet ownership, and not a result of pet ownership. Dogs which are trained to be guide dogs can help people with disabilities. Dogs that are trained in the field of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) can also benefit people with disabilities.
Pets in long-term care institutions 
Even pet owners residing in a long-term care facility, such as a hospice or nursing home, experience health benefits from pets. Pets help people cope with the emotional issues related to their illness. They also offer physical contact with another living creature, something that is often missing in an elder's life. 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. There are three types of Therapy Dogs: "Facility Therapy Dogs", "Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs" and "Therapeutic Visitation Dogs". The most common Therapy Dogs are "Therapeutic Visitation Dogs". These dogs are household pets whose owners take time to visit hospitals, nursing homes, detention facilities, and rehabilitation facilities. Different pets require varying amounts of attention and care; for example, cats have lower maintenance requirements than dogs.
Health risks 
Health risks that are associated with pets include:
- Aggravation of allergies and asthma caused by dander and fur or feathers
- Falling injuries. Tripping over pets, especially dogs, causes more than 86,000 falls serious enough to prompt a trip to the emergency room each year in the United States. Among elderly and disabled people, these falls have resulted in life-threatening injuries and broken bones.
- Injuries, maulings and sometimes deaths caused by pet bites and attacks
- Disease and/or parasites due to animal hygiene problems or lack of appropriate treatment (faeces and urine)
- Stress caused by behaviour of animals
- Fear or distress from animal presence or behaviour
- Spread of diseases like the fatal rabies when not properly taken care of.
Common types 
While many people have kept many different species of animals in captivity over the course of human history, only a relative few have been kept long enough to be considered domesticated. Other types of animals, notably monkeys, have never been domesticated but are still commonly sold and kept as pets. There are also inanimate objects that have been kept as "pets", either as a form of game, or humorously (e.g. the pet rock or Chia pet).
Domesticated pets are the most common types of pet. A domesticated animal is any animal that has been tamed and made fit for a human environment. They have consistently been kept in captivity over a long enough period of time that they exhibit marked differences in behavior and appearance from their wild relatives.
- Asses including miniature donkeys
- Pygmy Goats
- Pot-Bellied Pigs
- Rodents, including hamsters, guinea pigs, fancy mice, gerbils, chinchillas, plains viscachas, and fancy rats
- Sugar gliders
- Companion parrots, including the budgerigar, lovebird, monk parakeet cockatoo, african grey parrot, macaw and Rose-ringed parakeets
- Domestic Canary and other finch species
- Domestic turkeys
- Domestic ducks and geese
- Ravens and American Crows
Wild animals are often kept as pets. The term wild in this context specifically applies to any species of animal which has not undergone a fundamental change in behavior to facilitate a close co-existence with humans. Some species listed here may have been bred in captivity for a considerable length of time, but are still not recognized as domesticated. Many of these pets, like insects and fish, are kept as a hobby, rather than for companionship.
Exotic mammals 
- Anteaters like southern tamanduas
- Canidae like arctic foxes, coydogs, dingos, fennec foxes, gray foxes, and wolfdogs
- Civets like binturongs and genets
- Deer like leaf muntjacs
- Felidae like bobcats, cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, cougars, lions, ocelots, margays, servals, and tigers
- Marsupials like opossums, gliding possums, koalas, short-tailed opossums, wallabys and wombats
- Mustelids like badgers, minks, skunks, and otters
- Primates like capuchin monkeys, chimpanzees, guenons, lemurs, macaques, marmosets, slow lorises, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sykes' monkeys, tamarins and vervet monkeys
- Procyonidae like cacomistles, coatimundi, kinkajous, raccoons, and ringtail cats
- Rodents like chipmunks, degus, dormouse, flying squirrels, groundhogs, patagonian cavys, pouched rats, and prairie dogs.
- Spotted Hyena
- Sloths such as two-toed sloths and pale-throated three-toed sloths
- Crocodilians, including alligators, caimans and crocodiles
- Lizards (many of the commonly kept ones like bearded dragons, leopard geckos, green anoles, blue tongue skinks, monitor lizards, green iguanas, and other lizards)
- Snakes (many of the commonly kept ones like corn, king, milk, ball python and other snakes have morphs, which are color or pattern mutations)
- Crabs and Hermit Crabs
- Praying Mantises
- Stick Insects
- Tarantulas and other spiders
- Digital pets such as Gigapets, Neopets, Tamagotchi, or Nintendogs
- Pet rocks - a type of toy; a rock treated as a pet. Cottonball pets are also treated as pets.
- Stuffed toys are sometimes treated as pets
- Humanoid robots - robots designed to resemble and interact with humans such as QRIO, ASIMO and SPYKEE VOX
- Robotic pets - artificially intelligent robots treated as pets such as AIBO, Genibo, Robopet and iDog
- Robotic stuffed animals - robots covered in fur such as Furby and Zhu Zhu Pets
- Robotic dinosaurs - robots designed to resemble dinosaurs such as Pleo and D-Rex
- Domestic robots - some people treat domestic robots such as Roomba as pets
See also 
- American Animal Hospital Association
- Animal Chaplains
- Animal hoarder
- Animal keeping
- Brood parasite
- Dog attack
- Dog grooming
- Human-animal bonding
- Pet adoption
- Pet cloning
- Pet First Aid
- Pet food
- Pet insurance
- Pet passport
- Pet Photography
- Pet sitting
- Pet shop
- Pet store
- Pets for vets
- Popular cat names
- The Pet Network
- United States presidential pets
- Category:Veterinary medicine
- Pet loss:
- Alternative pets:
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- Jodee. "Want to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease? Get a Pet". Retrieved 27 April 2012.
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- "In the Home, a Four-Legged Tripwire". The New York Times. 27 March 2009.
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- Companion Animal Demographics in the United States: A Historical Perspective from The State of the Animals II: 2003
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