Woman wearing a mask cuddling with a dog

More than 7 out of 10 pet parents surveyed in a recent Kinship survey said they wouldn’t have survived 2020 without their pets. Kinship’s first Modern Pet Parent Report found that the COVID-19 pandemic has enhanced the connections between pet owners and their pets. A whopping 93 percent of pet parents surveyed said that their pets brought them comfort during a difficult year, and nine out of ten pet owners report that they have a stronger bond with their pets after going through 2020.

Pets Improve Their Owners' Lives
Image Courtesy: Kinship

Kinship, which is a group of brands, teams, and partners dedicated to collaborating and using data and technology to help people parent their pets better, interviewed over 1,000 pet owners for the report. They found that 94 percent of pet owners agree that their pets are there for them after a bad day, and 81 percent said that if they didn’t have their pets, the pandemic and other events of 2020 would have been harder on them.

Dogs, in particular, are tuned in to their owners’ feelings and emotions. They can understand an average of 165 words and signals and, as any dog-owner knows, find ways to communicate their wants and needs to their humans. During a time when many Americans were working from home, schooling from home, and otherwise not interacting much with others, finding a social outlet in their dogs was comforting and good for their mental health. Cats, too, can relieve their owners’ stress with their playfulness and affection.

Pet owners have several health advantages over those who do not own pets. People who have pets are less likely to develop depression and tend to have lower blood pressure than those who don’t have pets. There are many reasons for this: Caring for pets often boosts a person’s activity levels, for example, which can improve mental and physical health. Another important reason is that the simple act of touching and stroking a pet can boost serotonin levels and soothe anxiety. A pet’s companionship can also ease loneliness, and medical professionals know that loneliness is a risk factor for various health issues, both physical and mental.

Pet owners experience stress
Image Courtesy: Kinship

While owning a pet can reduce stress in pandemic times and in normal times, in some ways, they can raise their owners’ worry levels. The Modern Pet Parent Report found that over half of pet owners worry about whether they are good pet parents. Approximately three-quarters worry about whether their pets are healthy, and most will spend money on products and health care for their pets even if they have financial concerns.

Having concerns about being a good pet owner can lead to taking better care of a pet, which is a benefit. However, it might also lead to surrendering pets to shelters. For example, in one shelter in Manatee County, Florida, there has been a large increase of pets being dropped off. Many owners cite finances as the reason for giving up their beloved four-legged family members. Other reasons for surrendering a pet include an eviction, behavioral issues on the part of the pet, and health issues. Of course, surrendering a pet in the midst of a stressful time can lead to further anxiety, so many owners make this decision only after a lot of soul-searching and looking for other solutions.

One of those solutions is to take advantage of community organizations that raise funds to supply low-income and struggling families with pet care essentials, including dog and cat food. Many pet stores hold low-cost vaccination clinics to help people get their pets a checkup and immunizations at a low price. There are also organizations that arrange for free or low-cost spay and neuter surgery.

Petting a cat raises serotonin levels
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Many dogs and cats have enjoyed having their humans home with them during the pandemic. Approximately seven out of ten people who could do their jobs from home are currently doing so, and their pets have taken notice! Having a human at home to play, snuggle, or go for a walk at any time of day has surely increased the happiness of many pets. In addition, 65 percent of children have used remote learning due to closed schools and virus concerns, so pets have enjoyed that, too. Unfortunately, however, when everyone is home, it’s easy for owners to detect bad habits in their pets, such as barking every time someone walks past the house. This can lead to increased stress, particularly when the owner or children are trying to get their work done.

The answer can be as simple as stepping up the pet’s training. Many trainers are doing private house calls, and some even have online services available. Owners who are enjoying having their pets during these trying times might consider one of these classes to keep their pet engaged and on their best behavior. A well-behaved pet provides many benefits to its owner in terms of stress-relief and coping skills, and this has been shown time and time again over the last year.

Featured Image Courtesy: Pixabay.