The pandemic has brought challenging feelings of isolation. However, some people may be more vulnerable to this heavy emotional toll, especially those who have been personally affected by COVID-19 or are worried about their loved ones contracting the virus. With all of the changes happening personally, professionally and socially, stress levels seem to be increasing during these unprecedented times.
Some people are working longer hours in essential jobs; some are adapting to a work-from-home or virtual education situation; others are facing unemployment. It’s becoming more important that individuals and families find creative ways to cope with the stress of uncertainty. While people are trying new hobbies and engaging in virtual social activities, they may not realize that pets are another benefit of the “new normal.” In fact, pets are creating positive mental health changes in the lives of their owners.
Adopting pets during quarantine
Seeking companionship during quarantine has caused pet adoption rates to skyrocket as people realize they have more time to train and care for an animal while on lockdown. Petfinder adoption inquiries saw a 122% increase between March and April. Bringing home a furry friend could significantly boost your mood while the pandemic persists.
However, some behavior specialists worry that adopting a new animal only serves as a fast distraction and could place another hardship on an already financially affected household. It’s important to consider how a pet might affect your lifestyle during the pandemic, aside from some furry, funny company during Zoom calls. If cared for responsibly, pets create more positive change than anticipated.
Pets helping with stress during quarantine
Since animals became domesticated, they’ve offered companionship by keeping their owners physically active and influencing their social, emotional and mental well-being. Some researchers suggest that the presence of cats and dogs can help relieve stress. Even petting an animal for a few minutes a day could provide emotional support — the action helps regulate heart rate, blood pressure and the stress-relieving hormone cortisol. Attachment to an animal can even increase oxytocin levels, alleviate pain and distress, and decrease feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety.
With more people confined to a routine at home, they have the opportunity to address their pets’ needs. When the social calendar is wiped clean, the company you keep might only include a dog or cat. Consider strengthening your bond with your companion by finding new activities to do together. A natural skill for animals is adapting and becoming aware of emotions and social cues. If you are stressed or anxious, your pet may pick up on that and look for ways to help.
Keeping your pet’s health in mind, too
Staying up to date with your animal’s health is as important as maintaining yours. Certain apps and accessories can help you connect more with your pet and provide the resources they need to stay healthy. With the Figo Pet Cloud, for example, you can connect with other animal lovers, explore trails and parks, set reminders for the vet, or chat with a licensed veterinarian without physically visiting an animal hospital. While you adapt to a new lifestyle throughout the pandemic, it might be helpful to break away from the monotony of quarantine and explore features of an online pet lifestyle platform or other support system.
Stories of pets providing emotional support during self-quarantine may be the push you’ve been waiting for connect with a furry friend. Although mental health may take a hit during isolating moments of the pandemic, an animal companion could keep you company and improve your mental and emotional well-being. After spending so much time together, you may learn something new about your fur-ever friend.
Editor’s Note: From healing purrs and head boops to pest control, cats can improve human health and wellness. Here are five ways owning a cat is good for you.
Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology—the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud—and the industry’s most comprehensive pet insurance plans.