Hounds are top dog on the web as social 'petworking' surges in 2012

Tired of second quarter results and, more specifically, the seemingly endless stream of analyst reports that follow? You're probably not alone. Fortunately, pet insurance specialist Petplan has today released its annual social 'petworking' research, offering some welcome relief from the slightly dreary world of gross earnings and unit shipments.

Apparently, the UK's obsession with their furry friends means that people are increasingly arming pets with a dedicated social media platform - Andy Murray's pooch Maggie May recently posed with her owner's Olympic gold medal on Twitter - or at the very least sharing the cutest snaps of their furry friends via their own accounts.

Overall, the last year has seen a 36 per cent increase in the number of pets with their own social media account. Owner-posted photos are also only the rise, increasing by 25 per cent and meaning that nearly half of all pet owners (42 per cent) now share photos of their animal amigos online.

The 'market trend' here, according to Petplan, is a rise in canine popularity - at present, seven per cent of pooches have their own Facebook page, compared to four per cent of felines. Certainly, the evidence thus far points to 2012 being the year of the social savvy dog.

The world's most popular online animal is currently Boo (top video), a Pomeranian whose Facebook page has over 5 million likes. He currently enjoys the title of "world's cutest dog" thanks to his fans and, to put that Facebook prowess into context, the Dalai Lama has just over 4 million likes.

Indeed, four out of Facebook's top five pets are dogs, with the list also including Mark Zuckerberg's pooch Beast. YouTube's most popular pet video is also hound-related, with 'Ultimate Dog Tease' gaining more than 100 million views. Over on Twitter, dogs are now 12 times more talked about than cats, a surge attributed partly to Britain's Got Talent winner Pudsey.

"We've long known that animals are the stars of the Internet, but in the last year since we started tracking pets' presence online there has been an explosion in 'pet pride.' Increasingly pet owners are giving their pets a more active role in their life and spreading the joy that having a pet can bring," said Francesca Keefe, Petplan social media executive.

But it's not all just cute antics and adorable posing.

"As well as the fun side of social media, we're also seeing more and more pet owners take to Twitter as an effective way to look for lost pets," she added.

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For more neat facts, check out Petplan's accompanying infographic (below).