Could it be true? Are dogs replacing our children? Rather than taking this as a super-cute twist on that Halloween classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, consider a few facts reported by The Huffington Post recently. According to the source, the government says that births in the United States have fallen for the fourth year in a row. Possibly evidence of a weakened economy, the reduced birth rate is most evident in Hispanic demographics. The government also noted a new low in teen births, although these numbers have been steadily dropping for about 20 years or so. But considering that birth rates had been increasing since the late ’90s and – according to the study – reached an apex of 4.3 million in 2007 alone, the fact that 2012′s is the lowest the count has been since 1998 is still surprising!

But are dogs actually taking the place of babies, asks The Huffington Post? While both are undeniably adorable, is it possible that people are regularly making the decision to get a dog instead of having a child? As we know, many dog owners treat their pets as they would children, and a whole lot more refer to themselves as their dogs’ parents. As the source notes, adopting a small puppy can have a lot in common with raising an infant – there’s bottle feeding, special puppy food (sometimes homemade, sometimes even vegan), potty training and schooling! Just how many dogs are there in U.S. homes, anyway?

According to PetFoodInstitute.org, a survey on pet population reported that as of 2011, just over half of American households were home to at least a single cat or dog. The dog population has bloomed to almost 66 million, eked out by cats, which there are about 13 million more of. Though, as many pet parents know, there’s no reason for mutual exclusion. Dogs and children often get along, especially when kids are familiar with dog behavior and know how to treat animals respectfully. For many youngsters, there’s nothing as satisfying and wonderful as growing up alongside a dog! Perhaps the best course of action then is for more families to adopt dogs when they’re expecting.

There are plenty of pets out there – from giant Bernese Mountain dogs to the tiniest Pomeranians and all the mixed breeds in between – just waiting to hang out with a human brother or sister. This content post is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.

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