What Is a Pet?


A pet is any animal that has been chosen by one or more people, who take responsibility (however imperfectly) for its well-being and routinely intervene in its life course. The animal is typically kept in close proximity to its owners, including residing in and around a dwelling, and it may be subjected to various emotional and intellectual influences. A number of animals, such as dogs, are traditionally considered pets because they provide practical benefits such as herding and guarding livestock. Pets may also be a source of pleasure for their owners, for instance by providing a focus for leisure activities such as training or competing in dog sports.

A human’s relationship with a pet may also be a form of emotional support, especially during difficult times. Pets can provide companionship, affection and love, and they often inspire us to improve our own lives through their example of unconditional love. Some pets are considered therapy animals, helping to alleviate depression, anxiety, loneliness and other conditions. They may also encourage exercise and social interaction, which can be important for people with mental health conditions.

Children often learn empathy and compassion through the way they interact with their pets. They can feel a sense of responsibility for the care and safety of the pet, and they will likely want to please it by playing with it and obeying its commands. They can also develop their own unique personalities through the ways they play with, talk to and train their pets. For example, a child who trains a rabbit to perform tricks may end up with a very playful pet who loves to entertain and be a companion for its owner.

While many people think of dogs first when they consider pets, the fact is that any animal that has been adopted into a home and bonded with by humans is a pet. Even a stray cat in the street can become a pet when someone decides to take it into their home and name it. Pets are a great way to make new friends, and some people start meet up groups for their pets so they can get together with other pet owners in their area.

When choosing a pet, it is important to consider the age and energy level of any small children or elderly family members who live in the household. Young children might not be able to handle a large, active dog or puppy, and older adults who trip over pets, particularly dogs, are at high risk for serious injury. In the United States alone, falls caused by pets have resulted in more than 86,000 visits to emergency rooms each year.

It is also worth considering the time and effort that will be required to care for the particular species of pet you are interested in. For example, a fish aquarium requires regular cleaning and food preparation, but it does not require the same kind of physical interactions that dogs or cats do.