There are more than 80 million pet-owning homes in Europe.
Keeping our pets healthy by offering the appropriate healthcare and nutrition can bring many benefits to any family.
Promoting the benefits of pets
There are many benefits that pets bring. Children that grow up with pets learn the importance of care and loyalty and to grow emotionally. Elderly people also benefit from the companionship a pet can offer later in life, offering a focus for their daily lives and preventing them feeling lonely. Indeed, having a pet has been shown to bring real health benefits, by encouraging activity, reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
There is more to companion animals than household pets. Dogs can assist us when we have difficulties with some aspects of life, such as guide dogs, who help people with impaired vision; rescue dogs can help locate survivors after disasters such as earthquakes or avalanches, aiding emergency workers and saving lives, while others help search for and find lost and vulnerable people. Horses provide access and transport where vehicles may be unsuitable.
Increasingly, the importance of animals in medical and health situations is being recognised. Already they help autistic children lead fuller lives, helping them remain calm. Dogs can also now be trained to help people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar; there is also increasing interest in their potential to predict seizures in people with epilepsy or detect certain cancers by smell.