This has been an incredibly challenging time for our communities and all the people and pets we care so deeply about. To help us understand the impact that social distancing will have on us and our pets, we turned to our resident pet expert, Erin Askeland, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, to ask our most burning questions.
- As people socially isolate to try stop the coronavirus from spreading, are they connecting more with their pets?
When people are home more, the isolation can make them crave social interaction and turn to their pets for comfort. It’s difficult for humans to be completely isolated, and connecting with a living, breathing being that can show affection back can help. Plus, pets are known to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, provide comfort, and encourage physical activity. Pets are great listeners too, and by providing care for another, you can ease some of your stress by focusing on another’s needs. Pets can also bring out your playful side as you entertain them with exercise, games, and activities, which also strengthens the bond between human and animal.
- Is avoiding people affecting their relationship with their dogs and cats? Dogs especially may be thrilled that their owners are suddenly working from home.
It’s less about avoiding people than the constant contact that is affecting people’s relationships with their pets. Even though many pets may be thrilled to have their owners home all the time, it’s also a disruption to their normal routine. Some may become more clingy with their owners constantly available, which could create some friction between them. They may also seek attention while their owner is trying to work, which can be distracting or feel stressful. It’s important to continue providing exercise for your pets and establish working and play times for them to keep up a schedule. As more pet owners get to be home with their pets, it allows them to spend their breaks and more of their daily routine with them, which can benefit the relationship.
- Will people feeling isolated be more likely to adopt a pet?
Those feeling isolated may want to adopt a pet to help stave off that loneliness, but that may be challenging to do right now, depending on the area’s closures. However, it may be a great time to foster a pet to help support animal shelters and rescue groups! Fostering a pet can benefit both you and the pet by giving the pet a break from the shelter environment, which can be stressful, or create a place of consistency and routine while awaiting a home. Fostering also provides you a buddy to have at home with you and help stave off loneliness and isolated feelings, provide comfort, and another to care for during this time of social distancing. Considering reaching out to a local shelter or rescue group to see if they need fostering support.