pets have been important during the pandemic

How pets have been important during the pandemic


Many animal shelters were concerned that with the COVID epidemic, fewer people would be adopting pets, but actually, the opposite happened. While most shelters stopped personal visits and switched to online “meet and greets”, many experienced a huge increase in pet adoptions. 

Why people adopting now

People who formerly did not think of adopting a pet—either from a shelter or a breeder—decided they needed the company of another being in the household. Some, who had worked in traditional office situations but had moved to a home office, now found the time to care for a pet.

We will review why owning a pet is something that improves mental and physical health, but first let’s look at some recent research done at the University of York (England).

These British researchers analyzed the results of surveys sent to over 5300 pet owners. Here are some of their findings:

87% agreed that “My pet helps me cope emotionally with the pandemic”

73% agreed “My pet keeps me fit and active in the pandemic”

94% said “My animal has positive effects on my family at this time”

95% said “I can’t imagine being without my pet at this time”

Some concerns

These results showed the resoundingly positive feelings about having a pet during the COVID crisis, but 68% said they were sometimes worried about their pets during the pandemic. They were concerned they might not be able to get adequate veterinary care, or find the right food or medication. Others were worried their pet might not get enough exercise, and some thought who would care for their pet if everyone in the household became ill. 

Health benefits of pets

Despite these reservations, multiple research studies have shown that people who own pets, especially dogs, have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is not clear if this is a direct effect of having a pet, or because those with dogs, almost by necessity, tend to walk more. 

Just staring into the eyes of a dog has show to cause an increase in the blood level of oxytocin, “the love hormone”. Another benefit of pet ownership is that children raised with pets have a lower risk of asthma and eczema, and, perhaps surprisingly, a lower risk developing an allergy to animals.

Pet behavior problems

Another pandemic study, from the Royal Veterinary College of London, asked nearly 1300 dog and cat owners in Spain about their pets. They found that 41% of the owners said their pets experienced some behavioral issues during the pandemic, such as excess barking and an increased fear of being left alone. Most of these pets had these issues prior to the COVID crisis, and their problems just got somewhat worse. It may be that the pets were “absorbing” some of the negative emotions many of us are experiencing. This emphasizes that you make sure your pet gets adequate play time and exercise to diminish these potential problems.

Bonding with your pet

One final interesting finding from the University of York study was that it didn’t seem to matter what type of pet someone had—the psychological bond was as strong with a guinea pig as with a dog. Each person has their own needs and desires, and some people do not have the time, ability, or desire to have a cat or dog. It is good to know that most any pet can help us cope, and we, the pet owners and lovers, need to take good care of each other! 

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See also in ProcuraMed:

How contact with dogs may increase our love hormone levels

Owning a dog associated with a longer life

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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