It has been scientifically proven that having a pet such as a dog or cat in your daily environment, improves your mental health. This is because when you spend time playing with your pet the stress hormone, cortisol, is reduced within your body. During lockdown, this hormone may have been increased as a result of the rule of social distancing, so having companion animals may have helped in this case. Pets undoubtedly bring joy to all families and with this they bring health benefits to us; for example, during lockdown one of the many reasons people bought dogs and puppies is to get out of the house when there was nothing else to do, so taking them on walks was the way forward and potentially lead to contact with other dog walkers.
Beneficial to many people during the lockdown period as well was cats. These pets were more advantageous to certain people who perhaps were not able to leave the house for exemption purposes. Research has suggested through previous years that just having a cat in the same environment as you can make you extensively less stressed and reduce your risk by 30% of experiencing heart disease.
Since the announcement to the nation in 2020 regarding the strict guidelines for individuals and companies, vet practices have been altered to only providing essential care for animals or carrying out work to sustain the food supply chain. Because this led to the reduction in human contact amongst workers, this has had a huge effect on all practices because they have had to either switch teams or put staff on furlough. The majority of vet practices have been operating by phone and video consults whereby staff are making sure animals are being handled appropriately and safely with zero contact whilst managing a closed-door policy.
In terms of owners looking after pets during lockdown, there has been lessened opportunities for pets to socialize and to be freely exercised. The first couple of months of a pet’s life sets the standards of their emotional, behavioral, and physical growth and development. This actively demonstrates that owners of pets need to contemplate how they will meet the needs of young and energetic pets whilst being limited to their houses and gardens. In respect to long term issues owners might have with their dogs, inadequate exercise, and a decreased ability to interact with other dogs can have an impact on their longer-term behavioral issues. One major issue is also what would happen to the pets if the owner was to fall ill and in fatal cases be subject to hospitalization during the pandemic.
In conclusion, individuals and families should be doing research into the breed of animals they are looking to buy, and investigate their welfare needs, socialization, health and suitability for your home and the people who will be in this environment. Buying any pet should never be a spontaneous decision, being in a pandemic or not. Vet practices are seeking many unknowns for their future, so owners of pets should be wary of social distancing measures and other restrictions before thinking of buying.