How Pets Have Helped During COVID-19 And How We Can Help Them Too
The COVID-19 global health crisis has dominated 2020, claiming over 1.5 million lives according to the latest official figures and infecting tens of millions of people across the globe. It's brought industries to their knees, forced economies to close, fractured families, and delivered a lot of darkness to the year, but finally, with vaccines finally being developed and approved for use, hope is beginning to be restored.
In the months to come, it is expected that vaccines will be rolled out on a grand scale, all over the world, immunizing countless people against the virus and saving innumerable lives in the process. This will finally allow the public to feel safer about going outside once more, granting us the freedom to start getting back to normal and offering hope to so many people in need.
In the meantime, people need to continue to show caution, following the official guidelines, washing hands regularly, sticking to social distancing limits, and trying to cope with the challenges of this unprecedented situation as well as they can. One source of inspiration and positivity in your home could come in the form of a furry friend, as pets have proven to be very beneficial to their owners in terms of surviving the pandemic.
The Power of Pets
There are tens of millions of dog and cat owners across America, and countless more worldwide, with others opting for other kinds of pets like guinea pigs, fish, birds, and more. But whatever the furry, feathered, or scaly friend you happen to have chosen, recent times have revealed that having a pet can actually offer immense mental and physical health benefits during a time of crisis.
While so much of the focus during the pandemic has been on the virus itself and the physical symptoms it causes, such as high temperatures and dry coughs, less attention seems to have been made to the mental health challenges that have come along for many people as they try to adapt to living in lockdown and coping with the pressures of a pandemic.
The rise in depression, stress, and anxiety across the general population has been enormous, affecting people from all walks of life, from youngsters struggling with the loss of education to elderly people feeling lonely from not being able to see their families and friends, but pets have been a big boost to so many of these individuals during these trying times.
Pets can bring a great deal of joy and comfort into our lives, and studies have repeatedly shown that pet owners tend to have lower stress levels, happier lives in general, and more positivity overall. Having a pet while being forced to isolate or quarantine has proven to be a massive help, allowing people to feel less alone and giving them a constant companion by their side.
Paying Them Back
As well as mental benefits, many pets have also provided some physical exercise opportunities to their owners as well. Even during lockdowns around the world, it's been important for people to take walks and stay active, and having a dog around the house has provided people with the perfect reason and motivation to get outside and take in some fresh air.
Again, this has proven to be highly beneficial, and it's far healthier for people to take regular walks and exercise their muscles, rather than remaining cooped up. Even those with other pets, like cats or rabbits, have been able to play games and interact with their friends during the COVID-19 crisis, keeping their minds and bodies active during a difficult period.
Pets, too, have benefited from increased walks, more physical activity, extra playtime and interaction with their owners, and so on, and it's important for owners to acknowledge the part their pets have played during this difficult time and do what they can to 'repay the debt', so to speak. There's no need to overdo it with treats and goodies, but it's important to remember what your pets have given you during these harsh months and remember to look after them well in the future.
The Next Step
Now, as vaccine rollouts begin and the possibility of a return to pre-COVID life seems to appear, many pet owners will need to start thinking about how to prepare their furry friends for the big changes ahead. In many cases, cats, dogs, and other animals will have grown used to having their owners around much more than usual and may find it difficult to adjust as people head back to work.
Leading animal experts are suggesting that animal owners start the preparations now if they want to do what's best for their four-legged friends. They advise making gradual changes now and slowly shifting towards a routine that resembles the one you hope to have when life returns to normality.
So, for example, think about the times you go to bed and wake up, the times you feed your animals, when you take them for walks, how long those walks last, when you play and interact with them, and so on, and try to make those times start to fit in with the work-life schedule you plan on having in the months ahead.
You may even need to start taking small walks on your own or leaving the house for brief periods, just so that your pet can get used to not always having you around again, but there's no need to worry too much. Most animals need to sleep for over 12 hours a day anyway and are quite adaptable, so should be able to make the adjustment and deal with not having you around as much.
As we can see, pets have clearly played a massive part during the pandemic, and we can be thankful that, for the most part, they haven't been seen to succumb to the virus in the same way as humans. Our cats, dogs, and other animal companions have been there for us, and as we move forward, it's important to continue being there for them in return.