09 June 2016

Dogs are the "Top Dog" in Pet Ownership Around the World

According to global market research platform, GfK, the canine variety takes first place as most common household pet worldwide – with Latin countries, Argentina (82%), Mexico (81%) and Brazil (76%), ringing in as the countries with the highest rates of overall pet ownership per household.

By contrast, Asian countries ranked the lowest in pet ownership with only 31% of South Korean households owning a pet, followed by Hong Kong at 35% and Japan at 37%; according to GfK, however, the rates of pet ownership in Asian countries is on the rise.

The survey, which includes 27,000 online customers from 33 counties, uncovered that 33% of all respondents were dog owners, with cats coming in second at 23%, followed by fish at 12%, birds at 6% and other pets at 6%.

According to the survey, the U.S. comes in fifth place for pet ownership with around 70% of all U.S. households owning a pet – 50% of these own a dog and 39% a cat.

With the old adage in mind that a dog is ‘man’s best friend’, statistics like these indeed bring the question to light: what causes people to love dogs so much?

An article by Jon Bastian, “The look of love: how humans and dogs bond” refers to an interesting study recently conducted by animal behaviourist, Takefumi Kikusui, at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan.

The study measures the oxytocin levels in dogs and humans before and after being brought into a room together for 30 minutes of interaction. The study found that levels went up in cases where the dogs and humans made significant eye contact during the interaction – 130% in dogs and an impressive 300% in humans.

By comparison, there was no change in oxytocin levels with wolves and their owners put together in a room, as eye contact is perceived as aggression by wild dogs.

While it would appear too early to draw anything conclusive, this study is another indication that there is something going on below the surface – on a hormonal level - that draws humans and dogs together.

The study has caught the attention of many in the animal sciences world. Reference to the study in a sciencemag.org article, “How dogs stole our hearts” cites Brian Hare, an expert on canine cognition at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, as referring to this study as ground-breaking in providing possible insights into why service dogs are so helpful for persons living with autism and PTSD.

When it comes to the love between man and his dog, science just might be on your side.

By Lindsay Seewalt
Lindsay is an experienced journalist and mother of three whose heart and home is always open to a four-legged friend. With her Corgi, Angie, as household editor-in-chief, Lindsay gives back to the animal planet through the written word on anything and all ado about pets. She is passionate about topics regarding animal welfare and responsible pet ownership, which she aims to instill in both her readers and children to be compassionate animal lovers who are conscious and considerate that furry friends around the globe deserve a voice.

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