A pet is a domesticated animal that lives with an individual or family. There are popular, well-known pets like dogs and cats. Alternatively, there are less common pets sometimes called exotics such as snakes, turtles, and iguanas. Whether a pet is common or exotic, it can offer pleasure and joy to a household.
10 Characteristics of Pets
What makes an animal a pet? For example, we know there are snakes that live in the wild and there are snakes kept as pets. There are certain characteristics that differentiate a pet from an animal living in the wild.
- Dependent on Humans to Live – A pet needs to be given food, water, and shelter by its owner. Being domesticated means the animal depends on its owner for all of its care.
- Lives in a Home – A pet lives in a home. Some pets such as parakeets and hamsters live in cages. Alternatively, dogs and cats wander freely around a home and may have their own bed to sleep in.
- Needs a Veterinarian’s Care – Pets need care from a veterinarian. The type of healthcare a pet needs depends on what type of pet it is. An iguana and a beagle need completely different types of vet care!
- Some Pets Can Be Trained – A dog can learn how to sit, stay, and heel in a course of obedience training. Parrots can be taught to talk, and some cats can be taught by humans to do tricks.
- Devoted to Its Owner – Pets are often devoted to their owners. They can establish a trust with their owner over time. In fact, some pets want to be with their owners 24/7!
- Provides Companionship – A pet is meant to be a companion to its owner.
- Pets are Different from a Therapy Animal – A therapy animal receives specific training in order to provide support and care to its owner. As an example, some therapy dogs are trained to recognize the signs of a seizure in their owner. The dog responds by trying to get the person to a safe place. Alternatively, a pet is there strictly as a companion.
- Different from a Farm Animal – A cow or a chicken living on a farm serves a specific purpose. A cow provides milk while a chicken lays eggs to be eaten or sold. This makes farm animals a little different than traditional pets.
- Can Be Common or Uncommon – When you think of a pet you probably picture a dog, a cat, a bird, a fish, or a gerbil. Those are common choices for pets. Some people prefer less common or exotic pets such as snakes, iguanas, spiders, and ferrets. As long as an owner can offer appropriate care, many animals can live happily as pets.
- Cannot Survive in the Wild – One of the main characteristics separating pets from other animals is a pet can’t survive in the wild. It has been domesticated or raised under a person’s care. So, releasing a pet snake into the wild doesn’t mean it will know how to find food or shelter. In fact, it will likely die.
Popular Pets: The Pros and Cons
Some pets are particularly popular in the United States. Look at some of the pros and cons of each one.
When it comes to the most popular pet in the United States, dogs are the clear winner!
Pros of Having a Dog As A Pet
- One of the pros of choosing this pet is there are hundreds of breeds of dogs to choose from so it’s easy to find the right fit your household.
- Another pro is a dog can be a loyal companion that can guard your property as well.
- Many people appreciate the unconditional love offered by many pet dogs.
Cons of Having a Dog As A Pet
- The high costs of vet care and food for a dog can put a strain on the household budget. This depends a lot on what breed of dog you choose.
- Another con is some dogs shed more than others and can leave a lot of hair behind on the furniture. Be sure to check the shedding level of the dog breed you’re interested in if this is a concern.
A cat is another popular pet in the United States. These domesticated creatures are sleek, fast and always seem to have the wheels turning in their head!
Pros Of Having A Cat As A Pet
- Cats are low-maintenance pets in that they don’t need to be walked or taken to the park
- Cats are quiet animals, so you don’t have to worry about excessive noise in your home
- The monthly food bill for a cat is usually low because they aren’t known to need a large amount of food
Cons of Having A Cat As A Pet
- A cat has sharp claws that can damage upholstery, rugs and other furniture
- Male cats can spray urine in an effort to mark their territory. This can happen inside a home creating a big stink. Cats that are neutered are less likely to spray the environment.
- A cat that’s kept outside should be monitored because these animals can easily be hit by a car if they wander out into the road
Pros of Having Rodents As Pets
- Hamsters, gerbils and other rodent pets are low-maintenance requiring less care than a larger pet.
- Rodents are playful creatures that can be fun to interact with or simply observe. For instance, guinea pigs have been known to let out a squeal when they hear their owner’s voice!
- Rodents and their cages are easy to move to other places in a home if you need to relocate it to another room
Cons of Having Rodents As Pets
- Rodents can sometimes escape their cage or habitat making it necessary to find creative ways to catch them
- A rodent’s cage can take on an odor if you don’t establish a regular cleaning schedule
- If you get a male and female gerbil, hamster, etc. without realizing it, you can end up with a cage full of babies!
- Some rodents like hamsters are nocturnal so they can make a lot of noise at night spinning on their wheel or digging in their bedding
Fish are popular pets in the United States because they are interesting and beautiful creatures.
Pros of Having Fish As Pets
- There are plenty of fish that are easy to care for and make a great first pet for a family
- Setting up and decorating a fish tank can be a fun, creative project for the whole family
- Whether it’s freshwater fish or a tropical fish, the options are endless!
- Setting up the right lighting for your aquarium can show off the colorful fins of your fish
Cons Of Having Fish As Pets
- Some fish get sick very easily and can quickly pass germs to other fish in the tank causing them to die
- Emptying a large fish tank to clean it can be a hassle but is necessary to keep the fish healthy
Pros Of Having Birds as Pets
- Some birds can be taught to talk, sit on your finger and otherwise interact with family members
- Birds are colorful and fun to watch as they chatter with one another
- The food costs for a bird are very low
Cons of Having Birds as Pets
- Birds can throw around a lot of seed requiring regular vacuuming and clean-up of the area
- Some birds squawk very loudly which can create a noisy household. Parrots can get especially loud if they feel they’re being ignored!
- Birds need to exercise outside of the cage and it may difficult to get them back into their habitat. It’s a good idea to train them to return to the cage with a special signal like shaking their box of food
- Birds can become sick if they are kept in a place that is exposed to cold drafts. They need special consideration during the cold weather months
Some pets are considered exotic pets because they need special care to stay healthy. Some examples include:
The eastern box turtle, western painted turtle and the Red-Eared Slider are all turtles that are kept as pets in households. A turtle is considered an exotic pet because it needs moisture, light and the right kind of food. In short, you can’t just put it into a cage with bedding like it’s a hamster! Plus, turtles have a long lifespan if you take care of them correctly. Keep that in mind if you plan to get a turtle for a pet. Turtles can live for 30, 40 or more years!
An iguana is a popular exotic pet that requires a specific type of care to keep it healthy. For one, it needs warmth and light to thrive. They can live for 20 years if they receive the proper care.
Though snakes aren’t high on the list of common pets, they are kept in many households. Corn snakes, milk snakes and ball pythons are some typical choices. The temperature in a snake’s cage needs to be monitored and it must receive the right type and amount of food to stay healthy.
Ferrets are growing in popularity as exotic pets because they are playful and intelligent. They can be mischievous but are known to be loyal to their owners. Ferrets do have a strong bite so it’s best to find a young one to socialize it properly.
A tarantula is another exotic pet that needs a particular kind of care to survive in a home. Some species of tarantula need moisture so misting the habitat is necessary. They like to hide and are really quiet, gentle animals. With the right care they can live up to 20 years.
Big List of Pets
- Afghan Hound
- Airedale Terrier
- Alaskan Malamute
- Alpine Dachsbracke
- American Alsatian
- American Bulldog
- American Cocker Spaniel
- American Coonhound
- American Eskimo Dog
- American Foxhound
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- American Water Spaniel
- Anatolian Shepherd Dog
- Appenzeller Dog
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Kelpie Dog
- Australian Mist
- Australian Shepherd
- Australian Terrier
- Basenji Dog
- Basset Fauve de Bretagne
- Basset Hound
- Bavarian Mountain Hound
- Bearded Collie
- Bearded Dragon
- Bedlington Terrier
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Bichon Frise
- Biewer Terrier
- Black Russian Terrier
- Blue Lacy Dog
- Bluetick Coonhound
- Bolognese Dog
- Border Collie
- Border Terrier
- Boston Terrier
- Boxer Dog
- Boykin Spaniel
- Brazilian Terrier
- British Timber
- Bull Terrier
- Cairn Terrier
- Canaan Dog
- Canadian Eskimo Dog
- Carolina Dog
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Cesky Fousek
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Chinese Crested Dog
- Chow Chow
- Clumber Spaniel
- Curly Coated Retriever
- Deutsche Bracke
- Doberman Pinscher
- Dogo Argentino
- Dogue De Bordeaux
- Egyptian Mau
- English Cocker Spaniel
- English Shepherd
- English Springer Spaniel
- Entlebucher Mountain Dog
- Epagneul Pont Audemer
- Eskimo Dog
- Estrela Mountain Dog
- Fennec Fox
- Field Spaniel
- Finnish Spitz
- Flat-Coated Retriever
- Fox Terrier
- French Bulldog
- German Pinscher
- German Shepherd Guide
- Giant Schnauzer
- Golden Retriever
- Gouldian Finch
- Great Dane
- Great Pyrenees
- Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
- Greenland Dog
- Guinea Pig
- House Finch
- Ibizan Hound
- Irish Doodle
- Irish Setter
- Irish WolfHound
- Italian Greyhound
- Jack Russell
- Japanese Chin
- Keel-Billed Toucan
- Labrador Retriever
- Maine Coon
- Monitor Lizard
- Mourning Dove
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Norfolk Terrier
- Northern Inuit Dog
- Norwegian Forest
- Old English Sheepdog
- Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
- Purple Finch
- Red Finch
- Red Knee Tarantula
- Russian Blue
- Saarloos Wolfdog
- Saint Berdoodle
- Saint Bernard
- Shiba Inu
- Shih Tzu
- Siamese Fighting Fish
- Siberian Husky
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Swedish Vallhund
- Teddy Roosevelt Terrier
- Tibetan Mastiff
- Turkish Angora
- Welsh Corgi
- West Highland Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
Pets FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What animals can be kept as pets?
Many animals can be kept as pets! The most common pet choices are dogs, cats, birds, rodents, and fish. There are less common pet types as well that include amphibians, snakes, and other exotic creatures.
What are the most popular types of pets?
Dogs, cats, rodents, birds, and fish are the five most popular pets to own.
What is a good first pet?
A good first pet is one that is easy to care for. Some examples include dogs, cats, goldfish, hamsters, gerbils, and parakeets.
Starting out with a low-maintenance pet gives an owner the opportunity to learn more about the requirements of their care. Once an owner gains more confidence, he or she can try to keep a pet that needs a more advanced level of care.
What are the easiest pets to own?
Fish, birds, and rodents are the easiest pets to own.
How long do different types of pets live?
Some pets live a very long time. For instance, some dogs live from 10 to 15 years depending on the breed. Cats can also live to be 15 years old or more.
Alternatively, some pets are known to live a relatively short time. For instance, betta fish may only live for three years. Hamsters live for just one to two years while guinea pigs can live from four to six years.
It’s best to research how long a particular type of pet is predicted to live before committing to its care. For instance, some parrots can live to be 50 years old! People who own animals that live a long time such as parrots and turtles must make arrangements for someone to care for the pet if necessary.