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Five for Friday: National Pet Day

Five facts about pets and pet ownership
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Yesterday, April 11, was National Pet Day. This week we are focusing on our furry (or not so furry) friends. Here are five facts about pets and pet ownership.

A Long History

Humans started keeping pets as we began domesticating animals. Dogs, of course, have been used in hunting for many years; there is even evidence of dogs participating in lion hunts in ancient Mesopotamia. 

Indeed, our bond with animals goes back a long way — archaeologists have found a grave dug in 10,000 BC where the person was buried with a puppy.

Of course, Egyptians are well known for their worship of cats, but they also tamed other animals like lions, hippos, and monkeys. 

Some suggest that modern pet ownership really began in the Victorian era. Regardless, animals and humans have been living side-by-side for a very long time.

Canadians Love their Pets

The pet industry is huge. It is estimated that North Americans spend $90 billion US on their pets each year, with that number increasing each year. In Canada, the pet industry is valued around $7 billion.  

In addition to food, toys, and veterinary services, Canadians are splurging on other pet-related items and services. Some of these purchases include clothing, aromatherapy for pets, luxury pet resorts, audiobooks made for dogs, wine made for cats, nail polish, sunglasses, exercise equipment, and even plastic surgery. 

Most Popular Pets

Cats and dogs remain the most popular pets in North America. Here in Canada, cats are slightly more popular than dogs, with 8.3 million cats in Canada, compared to 8.2 million dogs. Dog populations are rising, however, up from 7.6 million in 2016. A total of 41 per cent of Canadian households have at least one dog, while 38 per cent of households have at least one cat. According to the Canadian Animal Health Institute, the number of cats and dogs has increased by about 10 per cent over the last 10 years.

The most popular dog breeds in Canada in 2018 were: 

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. German Shepherd
  3. Golden Retriever
  4. Poodle
  5. French Bulldog
  6. Havanese
  7. Shetland Sheepdog
  8. Australian Shepherd
  9. Bernese Mountain Dog 
  10. Portuguese Water Dog

In the U.S., dogs are more popular than cats, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Exotic pets like lizards, snakes, and spiders are becoming more common. In particular, poultry ownership has increased by 23 per cent in the last five years.

Record-Setting Pets

Some animals can live for a long, long time. For example, some parrots can live for up to 50 to 70 years. Typically, cats and dogs might live somewhere between roughly 10 and 15 years, depending on breed. Some pets, however, have shattered records.

The oldest dog on record was Bluey, an Australian cattle dog who lived to the ripe old age of 29. The oldest cat, Creme Puff, was 38 years old when she died. Creme Puff was owned by Jake Perry of Austin, Texas, who had another record-setting cat that lived to be 34. Both Bluey and Creme Puff are recognized by Guinness World Records.

The richest cat on record is said to be Blackie, who inherited $12.5 million in 1988. The richest dog is Gunther IV, who inherited $200 million from Countess Karlotta Liebenstein of Germany. Gunther owns villas in Italy and the Bahamas.

And then of course there is Laika, the first dog in space. Laika was a Soviet space dog who was launched aboard Sputnik II on November 3, 1957. Sadly, she died just hours later. Russia unveiled a monument to Laika in 2008.

Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Apparently, owning a pet has a lot of positive health benefits. This includes: 

  • reduced risk of heart disease
  • reduced stress levels
  • lower cholesterol levels
  • improved self esteem
  • lower blood pressure

And all this time Jon Arbuckle thought Garfield was a freeloader!

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