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A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals and sport animals which are kept for economic reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their attractive appearances and their loyal or playful personalities. Their pedigree may also be a factor.
In some cases pets may also provide their owners with benefits, such as providing companionship to elderly adults who do not have adequate social interaction with other people. While some people believe in the physical and emotional benefits of owning a pet, scientists are currently working to verify these ideas with medical studies. There is now a medically-approved class of "therapy animals," mostly dogs, that are brought to visit confined humans. Pet therapy utilizes trained animals and handlers to achieve specific physical, social, cognitive, and emotional goals with patients. Walking a dog can provide both the owner and the dog with exercise, fresh air, and social interaction.
The most popular pets are dogs and cats, but there are also rodent pets, such as gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas, fancy rats, and guinea pigs, avian pets, such as canaries, parakeets, and parrots, reptile pets, such as turtles, lizards and snakes, and aquatic pets, such as tropical fish and frogs.
The keeping of animals as pets can raise concerns in regard to animal welfare. In particular, overpopulation is cited as a problem, as is the breeding and treatment of animals. In some cases, people can view the keeping of animals as akin to slavery.
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