4 Pet Positives in Lockdown.
According to the PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing Survey more than 50% of households in the UK are home to at least one pet. Patterns show a large increase in animal adoptions and purchases since March 2020. No coincidence that March was the start of the first national lockdown.
So why has the demand for pets rise so dramatically since the start of the pandemic?
A study carried out at the University of York, investigated human-animal relationships during the UK’s first lockdown. Of the nearly 6000 surveyed, the study found that nearly 90% of pet owners reported their pet had helped them to cope better emotionally during lockdown.
Pet owners who were surveyed revealed that during the lockdown they had reduced feelings of loneliness and less deterioration in their mental health. This suggests that owning a pet could have a protective effect on the mental health and wellbeing of the owner.
Let’s take a closer look at the perceived benefits to mental health of pet ownership and how they became so important during lockdown.
Owning a pet will often require you to do some physical exercise. Physical exercise is recognised as a useful tool in the fight against depression. In the first national lockdown, exercising pets was permitted as frequently as required within the guidelines. Therefore, as a pet owner exercising a pet, you were advantaged with more opportunities to be outside.
Exercising your pet during lockdown allows you the opportunity to chat with other people who are exercising outdoors. People who have more friendships and social contact experience improved mental health. Pets are also great companions and when so many people are shielding alone or unable to see family due to regulations a pet can really help to combat loneliness.
Playing with or stroking a pet can be relaxing and calming to the owner. At a time when so many of us are feeling isolated a chance to hug and be hugged is a definite bonus to pet ownership.
Taking responsibility for a pet can give your day purpose and leave the owner feeling rewarded. During lockdown when you are not permitted to contribute to the lives of others in the way you would usually, being responsible for a pet helps you to feel valued and needed.
There are some words of caution when considering owning a pet to help you or a family member out at this difficult time though.
Is pet ownership right for you?
A worrying 1356 respondents of another survey admitted that they may be reluctant to access health care for themselves or would delay doing so if they did not have alternative care for their pet. (Animal Aunts offer emergency animal sitting services so if you did require assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.)
It is important to note therefore, that whilst pet ownership can be beneficial to a person’s mental health and wellbeing, it is not necessarily the right decision for everyone. Maybe time to rehash an old saying “A pet is for life, not just a pandemic”.