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Anthropomorphism and Its Adverse Effects on the Distress and Welfare of Companion Animals

By D. Mota-Rojas, C. Mariti, A. Zdeinert, G. Riggio, P. Mora-Medina, A. Del Mar Reyes, A. Gazzano, A. Domínguez-Oliva, K. Lezama-García, N. José-Pérez, I. Hernández-Ávalos

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Anthropomorphic practices are increasing worldwide. Anthropomorphism is defined as the tendency to attribute human forms, behaviors, and emotions to non-human animals or objects. Anthropomorphism is particularly relevant for companion animals. Some anthropomorphic practices can be beneficial to them, whilst others can be very detrimental. Some anthropomorphic behaviors compromise the welfare and physiology of animals by interfering with thermoregulation, while others can produce dehydration due to the loss of body water, a condition that brings undesirable consequences such as high compensatory blood pressure and heat shock, even death, depending on the intensity and frequency of an animal's exposure to these stressors. Malnutrition is a factor observed due to consumption of junk food or an imbalance in caloric proportions. This can cause obesity in pets that may have repercussions on their locomotor apparatus. Intense human-animal interaction can also lead to the establishment of attachment that impacts the mental state and behavior of animals, making them prone to develop aggression, fear, or anxiety separation syndrome. Another aspect is applying cosmetics to pets, though scientific studies have not yet determined whether cosmetic products such as coat dyes, nail polish, and lotions are beneficial or harmful for the animals, or to what extent. The cohabitation of animals in people's homes can also constitute a public health risk due to infectious and zoonotic diseases. In this context, this paper aims to analyze the adverse effects of anthropomorphism on the welfare of companion animals from several angles-physiological, sanitary, and behavioral-based on a discussion of current scientific findings.

Publication Title Animals (Basel)
Volume 11
Issue 11
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615 (Print)2076-2615
DOI 10.3390/ani11113263
Author Address Neurophysiology, Behavior and Animal Welfare Assessment, DPAA, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), Unidad Xochimilco, Mexico City 04960, Mexico.Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy.Facultad de Estudios Superiores Cuautitlán, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Cuautitlán Izcalli 54714, Mexico.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Attachment
  2. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  3. Emotions
  4. Health
  5. Human-animal interactions
  6. Malnutrition
  7. open access
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. Zoonoses
  1. open access