Lifestyle changes have squeezed pets out of British households, a new report by market analysts Mintel claims.
Dog ownership has fallen to just 19.8% of households
It suggests people increasingly favour "lower maintenance" animals which are less time consuming to look after.
Only 48% of British homes own a bird, fish or other animal compared with 55% in 1999. And dog ownership fell by 26% between 1985 and 2004, said the report.
Mintel's findings were based on the British Market Research Bureau's study of 25,000 people.
Dog ownership has fallen to just 19.8% of households.
However, it seems that cats have fared well in the popularity stakes, with ownership - at 22% - virtually the same now as it was in 1985.
And the research, contained in a new report called Pet Food and Pet Care Retailing, suggests that pet fish have bucked the trend.
The report suggests that the increased number of single-person and two-earner households has left people with less time to care for pets, as they demand exercise and company.
And, according to Mintel, the increasing popularity of computer games and television programmes amongst children as a major contributing factor in the decreasing demand for domestic animals.
"Children are now growing up in an age of electronic gadgetry with games consoles, computers, mobile phones and even virtual pets all demanding their attention," said Katy Child, senior retail analyst at Mintel.
Pet food growth
"Children's TV can also be viewed all day, every day, which could potentially leave little time for children to take care of a pet."
Fish enjoyed the biggest boost, with 16.5% of households owning them in 2004 compared to 13.5% in 1985.
Despite the decline in households which keep pets, the value of the pet food and pet care market is rising.
Pet food accounts for just over 50% of the total market.
Market analysts said the growth was due to owners' willingness to spend more on premium pet food.