Pet Ownership Around the World
From the time our ancestors kept wolves for protection to the $50 billion dollar pet industry of today, it’s understood that pet ownership is something that’s integrated into our culture.
From food and shelter to grooming and supplies, pets require so much from us. The price tag of responsibly caring for a pet can add up fast. On the other hand, humans thrive from having pets and enjoy many physical and mental health benefits. We also don’t seem to mind providing our pets with the same luxuries afforded to human family members.
However, the concept of pet ownership differs from country to country, including which animals are most popular and general practices around veterinary care.
The Cultural Differences in Pet Ownership
According to researcher Harold Herzog of Western Carolina University, the premise of pets is largely a cultural one, influenced by what’s acceptable in terms of how animals are used and how we relate to them. For example, among 52 countries that keep dogs, only 22 view dogs as pets or companion animals, as opposed to working animals.
Among countries that adore dogs, such as the United States and Brazil (70 million and 36 million respectively), cultural trends play a heavy hand in ownership. For example, in Brazil, small or toy breeds are all the rage. In Saudi Arabia, large dog breeds comprise the majority of pet dogs. In the U.S., “designer” dogs, such as the Labradoodle, along with celebrity owned or popular pets, inform and influence our choices.
Think Americans are fond of animal companions? We are, but in 2016, Australia tipped the scale when it came to their love for pets. More than 62% of households down under owned one or more fur friends, with an estimated 9.2 million pets in total.
And let’s not overlook our feline friends, who seem to have a very welcome presence in Japan (there’s over 7 million cat companions there!). Not only are kitties incredibly adaptable to smaller spaces (which is ideal for cities such as Tokyo), they’re also seen as good luck, gracing art and literature for centuries.
Cats are also celebrated in Italy, which is home to the famous Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary. In fact, it’s common to find many parks throughout the country dedicated to the care of homeless felines.
In some cultures, pets are not considered “clean” and therefore are not kept inside. For others, certain animals are viewed as sacred, such as cows in certain parts of India. Among the Aborigines of Arnhem Land in Australia, dogs are looked upon as the mortal representation of the Creator.
From food to protectors, best friends to small deities, the roles of certain animals are dictated not only by sentiment, but also by trends, religion, culture, and pragmatism.
Top 5 Most Popular Pets in the United States
To the surprise of most pet owners, the most popular choice in pets isn’t Fluffy or Fido, but rather Dory. Yes, fish remain in the #1 spot:
- Freshwater fish (Cichlids, Tetras)—142 million
- Cats—88 million
- Dogs—75 million
- Birds—16 million
- Small mammals (Guinea Pigs, Hamsters)—24 million
The bottom line is that no matter where you go, humans are fascinated by other animals, large and small. Do you have any experience with pet ownership in another culture or country? We’d love to hear about it on our Facebook page or by contacting the team at Schertz Animal Hospital.
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Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!