There has been a 70% increase in pets being fostered when compared to this same time period in 2019. Application numbers from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Societies across the US have increased 200% according to them and according to me, I have seen an increase in people wanting pets from breeders. I could not find statistics to back it up but my own friends, family, and pet sitting networks have been posting regularly about trying to find a furry friend.
Having a pet in our home brings joy, warmth, companionship and as proven by scientific studies, these six health benefits according to the CDC:
- Decreased blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol levels
- Decreased levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in your body
- Reduced feelings of loneliness
- Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
- Improved opportunities for social connection
The pandemic or COVID-19 disease has brought about stress, anxiety, loneliness and for many, little reason to get up off the couch. The loss of our daily routines and potential more uncertain change has added a serious emotional strain. Cue the adorable cat and dog videos flooding the internet and we see these animals stepping forward and bringing warmth to our hearts and homes.
A cat or dog also needs our care, through exercise, food and the need for attention. They bring a sense of responsibility that gives us a reason to get up in the morning. I think while many of us know this, it became a subconscious thought during the pandemic-fog; want a sense of purpose, get a puppy.
Cats and dogs are acting as coping mechanisms for us and while that may have a cold connotation to it, it really shouldn’t. Science backs this up according to Megan Mueller, the Elizabeth Arnold Stevens Junior Professor at Cummings School and a researcher studying how pets help people. Pets provide nonjudgmental emotional support, she said, and studies show that “contact with pets helps reduces stress and anxiety, particularly when you are experiencing a stressful situation.”
Even celebrities are helping us relieve stress by sharing their stress-relieving pets with us. Anthony Hopkins serenades his cat and Jennifer Garner reads a book to her Golden Retriever.
Cats and dogs have always been a staple in our households and now pets, in general, have a spot in 68% of our homes. There’s a good chance that you know several people with a cat or dog. In fact, while I couldn’t find statistics for the pandemic months’ pet ownership, I’m almost certain that number has increased despite the supply not being able to keep up with the demand.
The Supply Cannot Meet the Demand
Responsible breeders plan their litters based on planned matings to produce cats or dogs to their respective standards. They do not produce to meet demand so many already had extensive waiting lists for their health-tested happy puppies or kitties. Shelters have also had trouble keeping up with demand as well. Normally 45,000 dogs are transported from the Southern US to Northern states, according to a May 6th NPR interview regarding the supply chain of adoptable pets during the pandemic. But thanks to transport options being halted during the pandemic, these animals were not able to travel north to the more emptied shelters. This isn’t bad news though, while the demand for adoptable pets in the South is typically less than the in the North, many shelters remain empty thanks to the increase in foster homes opening up during the pandemic.
How Can You Improve Your Life With a Pet in the Pandemic?
When we are faced with such uncertainties, such as job loss, health concerns, and social distancing, turning to our furry friends for companionship can be very rewarding.
Here are five ways you can turn to your pets to help you during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Talk to your four-legged friend. Cats and dogs are FANTASTIC listeners, and in general they do not talk back. They can sense emotions and seem to know exactly when you need a snuggle or some comic relief.
- Look to them for comedy relief. Pets are funny, if they weren’t then the Internet would be a very boring place for us to spend so much time. Whether it’s the gusto Fido puts into chasing the ball but he tumbles anyway or the large eyes of your cat ready to swat at the feather toy you’re flaunting in front of them – pets are fun!
- Take Fido or Fluffy for a walk. They have strollers and even cool backpacks for cats to be able to cat around town in and dogs tend to do well on leashes. Taking a walk is a huge stress reliever.
- Settle in for a snuggle. Since staying 6 feet from your fellow human is the new normal, you can still enjoy snuggling with your cat or dog. Hunker down on the couch with a good movie and make sure to make room for your furry friend.
- Share their likeness. Just as those cute cat videos or darling dog pictures have brought a smile to your face, consider sharing your pet’s photos with your friends online as well. Nothing feels better than getting a heart reaction to a picture of Max that melted your heart too.
First Time Pet Owner
If the pandemic brought a new pal into our home and this is your first pet on your own, or ever, consider learning some best practices for care. The New York Times put together a great article for the first time pet owner in the pandemic. It’s worth checking out if that is you.
Be prepared for your pets
Just as we need to take care of ourselves, the same holds true for our canine or feline companions. Make certain they get veterinary care and that you make yourself aware of the veterinarian’s office protocols. In many states, pets are retrieved from your car for the appointment so it’s important to help your pet become comfortable with that option or communicate concerns with your veterinarian’s office. Don’t delay care for health concerns just because of COVID-19, pets need medical care too. Not certain what constitutes needing medical care? Consider taking a COVID-19-safe pet first aid and CPR online to learn how to help Fiffy or Fido if something goes wrong.
It is also a great idea to have a pet first aid kit with essential supplies to have on hand, including a 30-day supply of your pet’s medications and at least two weeks’ worth of food. Choose a friend, neighbor or loved one who could help in the event you are unable to care for your pet. Let them know where their supplies are and who to contact in case veterinary care is needed. Make certain your veterinarian also has that person’s information on file as someone that can make executive decisions in your absence.
Did this convince you to go contact your local shelter or get on that breeder’s waiting list? Pets bring such joy and comfort, if you are able and willing to welcome one into your home, you would not be alone in that decision.