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A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, 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, and/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. The most popular pets are dogs and cats, but there are also rodent pets, such as gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas, fancy rats, and guinea pigs, and avian pets, such as canaries, parakeets, or parrots.
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.
Benefits of Having a Pet
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. Pet ownership was shown to significantly reduce triglycerides, and thus heart disease risk, in the elderly. 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. While 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.
Domesticated pets are the most common types of pet. 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.
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.
Some of the common freshwater aquarium fishes. For more species of freshwater fishes, please see the list of freshwater aquarium fish species.
Some of the common marine aquarium fishes.
Aurelia aurita (moon jellyfish) are becoming popular pets.
As you can see you have a lot of choices.