Is It Correct to Say “Raise an Animal”?

We know that it’s possible (if rather difficult) to raise a child, but can you raise an animal? If you’ve cared for an animal since it was small with love and affection, surely, you’ve raised it?

Well, not quite. We’ll explain what the phrase “raise an animal” actually means below.

Is It Correct to Say “Raise an Animal”?

It’s grammatically correct to say “raise an animal” if you’re discussing breeding animals for a purpose other than your own companionship, e.g., raising puppies to sell as pets or raising pigs to slaughter for meat. It wouldn’t be appropriate to refer to keeping a pet as “raising an animal.”


  • “Raise an animal” is a grammatically correct phrase.
  • People use “raise an animal” when they’re discussing caring for an animal with the intent to profit off of it.
  • When referring to someone “raising” an animal not for profit but as a companion, you would call that “keeping as a pet.”

If someone gets a puppy and then nurtures and takes care of it for the rest of their life, this is just “having a dog,” not “raising a dog.”

In other words, when we use the term “raising” with regard to animals, it has a somewhat clinical and detached feel to it, which is why it’s not normally attached to a companion animal that we care about. 

We separate our terminology like this to create a distinction between the animals we view as companions and the ones we view as food sources. If we’re “raising” an animal, it means we intend to exploit them for profit in some way.

So, now we know the true meaning of this phrase. However, if you’re still not comfortable using it, let’s consider what to say instead of “raising an animal.”

Other Ways to Say “Raise an Animal”

Other ways to say “raise an animal” are “keeping as a pet,” “owning a pet,” and “having a pet.” These phrases refer not to raising an animal for consumption or profit but having an animal as a family companion.

1. Keeping as a Pet

If you’re looking for a phrase that means keeping an animal, not for profit but as a companion, the best phrase to use is “keeping as a pet.”

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a “pet” as:

  • An animal that is kept in the home as a companion and treated kindly:

This usually entails that the pet is kept by your side and lives in your home. Pets, unlike animals that people are raising for profit, are often considered part of the family.

The examples below should illustrate this:

  • I found Ozymandias in the garden, hopping away like anything, so now I’m keeping him as a pet.  
  • I found the spider scary at first, but it has been eating all the bugs in the house, so now I’m keeping it as a pet.

2. Own a Pet

You can say that you “own a pet” when you keep an animal as a companion in your home.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “own” as:

  • belonging to […] a particular person or thing

As such, when one owns a pet, this means that the pet belongs to them and that they intend to keep it.

Consider the following examples:

  • It’s a big responsibility to own a pet, so let’s start with a fish and move up to mammals.
  • I don’t own a single pet – I’m allergic to almost every animal.

3. Having a Pet

To “have” a pet implies that the animal belongs to you.

Therefore “having a pet” is another way to say that you are keeping an animal in your home for the pleasure of its company.

See the following example sentences:

  • Having a pet isn’t easy – my dachshund is as dramatic as can be.
  • I can give that child any toy they ask for, but having a pet is the only thing on their mind.

4. Rear an Animal

Another way to say “raise an animal” is “rear an animal.”

Merriam-Webster defines “rear” as:

  • To breed and raise (an animal) for use or market.

This is the most direct synonym for “raise an animal” and is, therefore, the strongest alternative. People use both terms to describe temporarily caring for just one animal with the intent to one day sell it, either living or dead.

Again, we wouldn’t use this phrase to discuss taking care of an animal that we have affection for and intend upon keeping. 

Here is an example of how this phrase looks in an email:

  • All of our kids were made to rear an animal for slaughter at an early age. It’s character-building.
  • If you’re going to rear an animal, it’s essential that you don’t get too attached.

5. Raising Livestock

If you’re searching for how to say “raise an animal” in a different way, you can try using “raising livestock.”

This isn’t a perfect synonym for “raise an animal,” as it can’t be used to refer to only one animal – “livestock” implies that you’re managing multiple animals.

It’s specifically a farming term as well and is only used to refer to animals being raised to provide either meat or dairy, so you wouldn’t hear a dog breeder use this term.

Here’s an example of how this phrase looks in an email:

  • If this client comes back with one more complaint, I swear I will quit this job, move to Texas, and start raising livestock.
  • The farmer has been raising livestock on this land for decades.

6. Animal Husbandry

Merriam-Webster defines “animal husbandry”:

  • A branch of agriculture concerned with the production and care of domestic animals.

As such, you can use this term when discussing the act of raising animals en masse. It’s not a perfect synonym, as you can’t use it to talk about specifically raising one animal, but, overall, it encompasses the same ideas as “raise an animal” does, which is keeping animals for profit and not for pleasure.

Here’s an example of this phrase in an email:

  • You’re not wrong, my family were farmers, but they were actually crop farmers. So, I don’t really know anything about animal husbandry.
  • He’s an expert in animal husbandry, but, ironically, he can’t keep a goldfish alive in his house.