How Pets Heal Us During COVID – and Beyond

Self-isolation. Lockdown. Social distancing. All things we weren’t aware of at the start of 2020 yet are now real parts of our daily lives.

Most of us understand why lockdowns are necessary during the COVID-19 crisis, whether they’re local, regional, or national. For those living alone, loneliness is hard to cope with over several weeks or even months.

Small wonder, then, that many of us are realizing how beneficial it is to have a pet around to share our time with.

Assured Companionship

Companionship is the reason why many people adopt pets. Cats and dogs give their owners love without attaching conditions (well… cats are maybe still on the fence about that, but you get the idea).

It’s been shown that our health improves when we have a pet cat or dog, too. One study found that nearly three-quarters of respondents had enjoyed better mental health since welcoming a pet into their home.

That same survey found that 54% of participants enjoyed better physical health too. This is more common among dog owners, of course. The daily walk routine is just as good for the owner as for the pooch.

Reduced Isolation During Lockdown

If there is one thing that many of us have experienced during the past few months, it’s a rise in stress and anxiety.

And pets are the perfect antidote to that. It’s been proven many times that both cats and dogs can help reduce these feelings.

One study conducted at Washington State University confirmed that cortisol levels (a hormone associated with high levels of stress) dropped considerably after just 10 minutes with a cat or a dog.

For those living alone, having a dog or a cat around the home has made a major difference to their experience of lockdown. It’s still far from easy going for a long time with no hugs or visits with family members and friends. Yet those with pets seemed to fare better.

Pet Adoptions Have Increased

As it became clear that national lockdowns were about to begin, many households across many countries started turning up at their local shelters. Cats and dogs were duly adopted and given homes.

The famous Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, UK, saw around double the usual number of adoptions in the week beginning March 16 alone. (No surprise: there are tons of great reasons to own a dog).

Of course, the ongoing cost of taking good care of a pet should be considered. Yet there are many stories of people finding a new companion who has changed the way they experienced lockdown.

Taking Good Care of Your Pet as Freedoms Return

While plenty of people are still working from home, thought should be given to how to help cats or dogs adjust when things (hopefully) return to normal. Cat owners probably won’t experience too many problems… although they may get the cold shoulder until dinner time arrives.

There are lots of online guides providing advice for dog owners who are about to return to working outside the home. Making the adjustment as gradual as possible and walking the dog before going to work all help to ease them into the changes.

We’ve all had to cope with multiple changes in 2020. However, there is no denying the bond between us and our pets is stronger than ever. They’ve helped us through many a tough time this year, and for that, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

-Allison Whitehead

Photo: “Freya” courtesy of the author

Other Posts You Might Like

0 comments on “How Pets Heal Us During COVID – and Beyond

Leave a Reply (and please be kind!)

%d bloggers like this: