17% of British pets have dedicated presence on social media

Marnie the Shih Tzu has 2.1 million followers on the @marniethedog Instagram accountMarnie the Shih Tzu has 2.1 million followers on the @marniethedog Instagram account
Marnie the Shih Tzu has 2.1 million followers on the @marniethedog Instagram account
They may not be able to speak for themselves or use a computer, but that has not stopped thousands of Britain's pets from having a social media profile, a survey has found.

Just under a fifth (17%) of dogs and cats in the UK now have a dedicated presence on social media, with 12% of pets on Facebook, 5% on Instagram, 5% on Twitter and 3% on Snapchat.

Additionally, just over a third (35%) of pets feature heavily on the owner's own social media channels.

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Sainsbury's Bank Pet Insurance, which conducted the research, said this is evidence of owners seeing themselves in their furry companions, with more than half of cat and dog owners (52%) describing their pet as their "best friend".

The phenomenon, dubbed "social petworking", has created famous furry faces such as Marnie the Shih Tzu, who has 2.1 million followers on the @marniethedog Instagram account, while other profiles have made social media stars of pets including David Beckham's pooch Olive, and Lady Gaga's French bulldog Asia Kinney.

A quarter (26%) of the 4,008 adults quizzed said they take more photos of their pets than their own children and 42% take more pictures of their pets than their partners.

The study found that almost half (49%) of those surveyed say they prefer animals to people.

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When asked why, the top three reasons were because their pets are like a faithful friend, are more reliable than people and they make their owners feel more cheerful.

Psychologist Gladeana McMahon said: "As the problem of loneliness increases in society through a variety of factors such as smaller families, single-person households, living away from family and ageing populations, some people are turning to their pets to provide social comfort and become their 'best friends'."