Pets In A Pandemic Report Highlights The Role Of Pets In Our Lives

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The second annual Better Cities For Pets Program Report, Pets In A Pandemic, was just released and showed how pets have been a top source of companionship this year during the COVID-19 crisis.

Sponsored by Mars Petcare, the report looked at how pet ownership has changed during this pandemic. It found that for the majority of the respondents (86%), pets were a top source of companionship. Almost 60% of new pet owners said that companionship during lockdown was one of the main reasons for getting a new pet.

Related: Researchers Investigate Pets and People Coronavirus Connection

That said, the report also cited financial concerns about pet parenting, with nearly two-thirds of the respondents saying they were concerned about basic pet costs and 13% having to surrender their pets because they couldn’t afford to keep them.

“BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program Report: Pets in a Pandemic” infographic illustrates evolving pet ownership during COVID-19.

Jam Stewart is the Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Mars Petcare. Stewart said that the pandemic’s affected all parts of our lives, with millions shifting to working from home and having new household routines. This shift of course includes our four-legged family members, and Pets In A Pandemic looked specifically at the impact. While the report happily showed a strong positive association with pet ownership, it also uncovered many of the challenges that pet owners have dealt with in 2020.

The data used for Pets In A Pandemic came from first-party surveys as well as the WISDOM PANEL™ 2020 Pet Census. It outlined the benefits and challenges pet owners in 2020 faced as well as what support pet owners have received from state and local governments. It also featured insight on the attitudes pet parents have had affects them and has changed for the foreseeable future.

The bottom line with the report was clearly focused on the benefits of pets in this unprecedented year, and how thankful pet parents were to have increased time with their pets.

Additional insight on the benefits of pets was as follows:

  • Among all pet owners, three quarters or more said that their pets provide important benefits in the form of companionship (86%), reduced stress or anxiety (78%), reduced boredom and monotony (75%) and reduced depression (74%) during COVID-19.
  • Thirty percent of pet owners welcomed a new pet this year, with more than half doing so for companionship (58%).
  • Half of the survey respondents reported spending more time with pets as the primary benefit of working from home – even ahead of increased flexibility (46%), cost savings from lack of commute (47%) and more time with family (36%).

Related: Research Shows Pet Ownership Saves 11.7 Billion In HealthCare Costs

When it came to financial challenges, there were plenty highlighted. Many included difficult decisions in which some pets had to be surrendered.

  • Sixty-one percent of pet owners felt concern about their financial ability to pay for their pets’ expenses.
  • Twenty percent of pet owners have considered giving up their pets in 2020, and 13% actually did.
  • Of pet parents who considered giving up a pet during the pandemic, 31% said access to pet-friendly housing resources would have been helpful, while 32% said short-term financial help and 30% said more access to pet services or support would have been helpful.
  • City officials acknowledged their communities’ difficulties in recent months. One in three city officials have heard concerns from residents about the financial challenges of pet care and the potential need to re-home a pet.
  • Sixty-four percent of city officials favor providing assistance to pet owners due to the pandemic.

In a year where ‘Work-from-home’ became the norm, many worry about what will happen to their pets when we ‘get back to normal.’ Respondents also expressed other concerns:

  • Seventy-eight percent of working pet owners expressed concern over their pets’ anxiety and/or confusion when they return to a normal work schedule.
  • Similarly, 75% of working pet owners have expressed concern about their personal anxiety if they have to return to work without their pet. 
  • Two-thirds of working pet owners who are spending more time at home today would like the ability to take their pets to work, and another two thirds would be likely to do so if allowed. 

All the data highlighted the need for pet parents to have more assistance and pet-friendly opportunities since pets are even more a part of people’s lives than they’ve ever been. Pet parents have come to enjoy and look forward to more time with their pets nearby, and according to the survey, hope more daily routines in the future continue to support this.