How lockdown has improved our relationship with pets
For any pet owner, working from home with our pets during lockdown has taken a bit of getting used to. But animals are being credited for helping many of us get through this challenging time.
The benefits of pets to human health, both mentally and physically have long been acknowledged. But isolation, loneliness and the restrictions imposed by lockdown have worked to remind us of the power of the pet-owner bond.
We’ve become better friends
For many owners, it has enhanced their appreciation of their pets and improved their pet relationships. A survey of 4,000 dog owners and 900 cat owners by Washington State University’s College of Education on the impact of lockdown on pet-owner relationships found people looked forward to seeing their animals every day, rather than it being a burden. In fact, owners were just as concernedabout their pet’s needs as their own.
Some parts of the world have even experienced a boom in pet purchasing, as people reach out to animals to replace those close interactions from family and friends they’re missing. A New York-based animal charity, Foster Dogs Inc, recorded a 1,000 percent increase in foster applications at the start of lockdown against the same time in 2019. Meanwhile, breeders are reporting unprecedented demand for puppies.
Enhancing health and easing loneliness
We know pets can help reduce stress, they increase opportunities to exercise and they’re linked to improved cardiovascular health.
During lockdown as we try to keep ourselves motivated while working, the emotional support provided by the boundless energy and unquestioning love from pets has come to the fore.
A survey by leading UK animal charity, Battersea, revealed 75 percent of pet owners believe their pet has helped to ‘rescue them’ during lockdown. Owners say their pets have helped them get out of bed in the morning, they look forward to daily ‘walkies’ and one in ten have even moaned about a work colleague to their pet!
It’s a similar story across the pond. A survey by Banfield Pet Hospitals found 39 percent of owners said their furry friend helped to ease anxiety and uncertainty during the pandemic.
Even faux pets can improve our lockdown moods. Residents at one care home in the UK who had to replace regular therapy pet sessions with robot dogs and cats have displayed improved moods and less agitation.
Reminded us of the importance of veterinary care
As frontline workers, veterinarians have battled to work throughout lockdown to keep our pets healthy.
A survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association discovered veterinarians have had to completely transform the way they work so they can safely treat animals at a distance. It includes asking owners to wait in their vehicle during treatment, using a drive-thru pick up and drop off service and embracing telemedicine to take care of animals. And owners have relied on veterinarians for advice on Covid-19 not just for their pets but for themselves too.
Remain connected as restrictions lift
As lockdown rules ease, we begin socializing more and eventually returning to the office, so it’s important to prepare our pets.
Gradually change your routine with your pet so meals and exercise happen at times that fit around your work and social schedule. You may also need to help your pet get used to being away from you for long periods of time by leaving cats alone in the house more frequently and dropping your dog at the dog sitter once again.
We must remember that our pets have helped to keep us healthy during this tough time, so it’s our turn to show them our appreciation and take care of their health in return as we get back to our new normal.