Dogs, cats and birds have lived alongside humans for thousands of years. Our interconnected lives offer physical and psychological benefits, as well as some risks.
A world of companion animals
Pet preference varies from country to country. In one poll* of 22 nations1, more than half of those surveyed reported owning at least one pet.
Threats to pet health
Different ailments strike early and late in a pet’s life. Older dogs often have tumours, whereas older cats are treated for chronic kidney disease, according to US data from 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats8.
A shifting landscape
Diabetes is nearly three times more common in cats than it is in dogs. Over the past 10 years, the prevalence of diabetes in dogs has increased by 79.7% and in cats by 18%8.
Incidence of the potentially fatal parasitic infection heartworm in dogs has fallen since 2011, owing to the use of preventative drugs8.
Numerous studies have documented the many benefi¬ts of owning a pet, but allergies, bites and disease can mean that animals are not always good for our health.
1. Pet Ownership Global GfK Survey
2. Euromonitor International
3. Bradley, T. & King, R. The Atlantic go.nature.com/2lmdoyu (2012).
6. American Pet Products Association
7. World Health Organization
8. Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2016 Report
9. Nagasawa, M. et al. Science 348, 333–336 (2015).
10. Reeves, M. J. et al. J. Phys. Act. Health 8, 436–444 (2011).
11. Allen, K., Blascovich, J. & Mendes, W. B. Psychosom. Med. 64, 727–739 (2002).
12. Stanley, I. H., Conwell, Y., Bowen, C. & Van Orden, K. A. Aging Ment. Health 18, 394–399 (2014).
13. Wegienka, G. et al. Clin. Exp. Allergy 41, 979–986 (2011).
14. Hampson, K. et al. PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 9, e0003709 (2015).
15. Salo, P. M. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 134, 350–359 (2014).
16. Bosch, S., Tauxe, R. V. & Behravesh, C. Emer. Infect. Dis. 22, 1149–1155 (2016).