The pandemic has changed life on earth for everyone, including our pets! Keep reading for a snapshot on how the shake-up of life as we know it has impacted the animals, we all adore.
Numerous studies have investigated the relationship between pets and their owners during this time. It’s well known and widely supported that our pets provide much needed comfort and emotional support during lockdowns. In fact, most pet owners agree that spending time with their pet reduces stress. Acquiring a new pet has been among the many new COVID-19 trends. This is due to mental health benefits they bring as well as new working from home arrangements that provide Australian families with the opportunity to welcome pets into their home.
Enough about us – how do our pets themselves feel about the pandemic? Research from Animal Behaviour Experts in National Geographic indicate that this depends on the individual animal. While some pets adore extra attention, others can be irritated by the constant company and lack of alone time. A study by Behaviour Consultant Jon Bowen, in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, found that dogs do have emotions. Our pets can absorb what their owners are feeling, particularly if the owner is emotionally dependent on them, in times of stress. To combat this, it’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy for pets while our worlds are turned upside down.
Like humans, comfort and normalcy can be achieved through creating a solid routine. Research from Professor Lee Niel shows that predictability and control are key strategies for reducing stress. In the eyes of your pet, this may mean feeding them at the same time each day and establishing a set bedtime and walk times to create a feeling of control. There are so many mutual benefits between people and pets and we are lucky to have each-other! Like we do with friends and family, it’s important to consider the emotional needs of our pets during the change and unpredictably brought about by the pandemic.