VANCOUVER, Wash. — If you have a beloved cat, dog, or other pet, chances are you’ve been seeing a whole lot more of them over the past few months. We’ve all been spending more time at home because of COVID-19, and a new survey of 1,000 dog and cat owners finds that quarantining together has brought many owners much closer to their pets.
All in all, 84% of respondents feel they are more attuned to their pet’s health and needs.
“The human-animal bond now, more than ever, plays an integral role in people’s lives,” says Molly McAllister, chief medical officer at Banfield Pet Hospital, the organization that put together the survey. “This survey shows that pets are always here for us – even, and especially, during the most difficult of times – and we’re encouraged that as a result of spending more time together, people are committed to finding new ways to better be there for their pets.”
Millions of Americans find themselves working from home right now, and 20% of respondents admit they prefer working alongside their pets than any human co-worker. In fact, 73% worry about eventually heading back to the office and being forced to leave their pet for eight hours each day. Another 59% are already fear the separation anxiety their pup or cat may feel when they have to return to work.
Most survey participants (67%) plan on changing how they care for their pet once lockdown ends, and 47% are committed to spending more time with their pets when they are home. Furthermore, 21% even want to adjust their schedules as much as possible to spend more time at home with their pets.
Some (10%) even want to adopt another pet to keep their current furry friend company.
This year has been tumultuous, to say the least, and the survey also found that many pet owners have turned to their dogs and cats for some much needed comfort and support. Close to half (45%) say their entire house has been happier during lockdown because of their pets. Moreover, 39% think their pet has helped them manage coronavirus-related anxiety and stress. As far as different age groups, 47% of surveyed millennials have found emotional support from their pets, compared to 43% of Generation Zers and another 43% of Generation Xers.
It isn’t just the owners who are benefitting either. Nearly four in ten (38%) respondents believe their pet has been happier during lockdown and 35% think their pet has been more playful. Most owners (65%) also report giving their pets extra love and affection over the past few months. For many, that extra affection apparently includes more food; 33% agree their pet has gained weight lately.
Just about everyone’s social life has taken a significant hit lately, so perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising that 47% of pet owners are apparently talking to their pets more often. Cat owners (51%) tend to chat up their pets more often than dog owners (47%). Women (50%) are also more likely to talk to their pets than men (44%)
Lots of respondents seem to think that lockdown has made them a better owner in general. Nearly half (44%) feel they are more responsible and attentive towards their pet, 37% are paying more attention to their pet’s medical needs, and 42% are making sure their pets exercise more regularly.
Additionally, 20% plan to take their pets to the vet more often, and 41% contacted their local vet during lockdown.