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Pets keep people sane by stressing themselves out



As we begin to fall into yet another year of lockdowns and online school, there has been a noticeable change in the public as more and more people have tested positive for… pet fever.


Ever since the world came into lockdown and the entire education system was seemingly shoved online (for better or worse), more and more people have been observed to get pets, even if they have never had one before! From your typical dogs to cats, and even some bunnies here and there, it seems as if these furry animals have taken over our households, occupying the corners of our video meetings as they become the spotlight of the class.


This begs the question though, why? Why only now, and are there any prolonged effects from the sudden increase that we should look out for?


One strong reason may be derived from the lockdown itself. With almost everywhere being shut off to the public for the last year and a half and with the landscape showing no signs of changing anytime soon, people worldwide got a bit lonely. A recent global survey showed that 87% of people find pets to be a viable way for them to cope during lockdowns. And who can blame them? If I was feeling anxious and depressed I'd love to just snuggle myself into a fluffy cloud!


However, while pets have been able to provide substantial support to people in lockdown, more and more pet owners are becoming concerned about their little furry friends, and that the pandemic has had a significant impact on their behavior. Not only that, but some pets are exhibiting signs of stress, such as increased barking, fear of loud or sudden noises, and anxiety when at home alone.


In April 2020, Jon Bowe, a behavior consultant at the Royal Veterinary College in London, asked 1,297 dog and cat owners in Spain questions about their feelings toward their pets and their animals’ recent behavior. Most owners said their pets had provided “substantial support” during the pandemic, yet 62 percent of respondents said they thought their pet's quality of life had decreased. About 41 percent also reported observing behavioral changes in their animals during the pandemic, particularly dogs that had experienced behavioral problems in the past.


There are vast amounts of research that show dogs have emotions, and will more often than not also absorb the emotions of their owner, even more so if their owner is emotionally dependent on them. This means that while you’re feeling anxious and emotionally drained, more often than not your dog may also be experiencing such emotions.


However, not everything is dark and gloomy. While behavioral changes have been observed, not all of them are negative. Many pet owners have reported feeling much closer and bonded with their pets, even more, helping them to cope with their emotional problems during the pandemic whilst also feeling much more motivated to continue their day-to-day tasks.


However before we all go off and get ourselves a fluffy little kitten, we should still remember that pets are not toys. They are living and breathing animals that need love, care, and attention to live alongside us. We should not get a pet purely because we need a friend. Taking care of a pet is not easy, and if you feel unable to handle it, please don’t go out and get one purely for fun! Also if your parents are gonna kill you for getting one, we would suggest that you listen, might be good to continue breathing.


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