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Changing Conceptions of Care: Humanization of the companion animal - human relationship

By R. Fox, N. R. Gee

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This paper explores the changing nature of companion animal-human relationships in Britain over the past 30 years. This period has seen rapid change in attitudes and practices towards companion animals, with notable advances in medical treatment, nutrition, and understanding of non-human animal behavior, as well as re-evaluations of the position of animals within the home. Based upon in-depth interviews with companion animal caretakers and professionals involved in the companion animal industry, we examined these changes in the United Kingdom. Major themes were identified: Humanization, Commercialization, Medicalization, Responsible Companionship, and Alternative Companionship. These changes have had largely positive effects on companion animal health and welfare, but also bring new expectations of the companion relationship, which humans and nonhuman animals may be unable or unwilling to fulfill. While dominant discourses of responsible companionship prevail, the process of change is ongoing and reflects emerging trends in human society towards diversification and alternative lifestyles.

Publication Title Society & Animals
Volume 24
Issue 2
Pages 107-128
ISBN/ISSN 1063-1119
DOI 10.1163/15685306-12341397
Author Address Uppsala University, Uppsala,
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Attitudes
  7. Behavioral research
  8. Canidae
  9. Canine
  10. Carnivores
  11. Cats
  12. Commonwealth of Nations
  13. Countries
  14. Developed countries
  15. Dogs
  16. Europe
  17. Humans
  18. Lifestyle
  19. Mammals
  20. Men
  21. Nutrition
  22. OECD countries
  23. pet care
  24. Pets and companion animals
  25. Primates
  26. Psychiatry and psychology
  27. Relationships
  28. Science
  29. Social psychology and social anthropology
  30. United Kingdom
  31. vertebrates
  32. Veterinarians
  33. Zoology