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Five Reasons to Appreciate Pets During Lockdown

As we face new challenges sparked by a global pandemic many of us with pets will be even more thankful to have them in our lives. With the quarantine at home reducing our contact with the outside world, pets can be a great source of comfort and companionship.
As a proud pet owner myself I can definitely attest to that. My two-year-old pooch has been my daily companion during lockdown and having the extra time to play with her and take her for walks have become among the highlights of my day.

In fact, dog shelters have seen a spike in adoptions and fostering during quarantine. In New York the open-door animal shelter organization, Animal Care Center, ran a foster program to get 200 dogs temporarily housed. In no time it got a whopping 2000 applications! Many urban dwellers, such as New Yorkers, confined to their homes during lockdown, realized that they could commit to fostering a furry canine for a period of time – unlike before the quarantine when they were out of their homes pretty much for most of the day.
This trend in wanting to welcome pets during quarantine is also witnessed in many other animal shelters in the United States and all around the world.

Of course, we are not surprised. Animals are wonderful companions and can provide emotional support. At The Wellness Project, we previously wrote to you about the therapeutic benefits of animals. Animals are increasingly being integrated in the daily lives of people with the aim to help; they can be found in hospitals, nursing homes and even schools to provide pet therapy. So what is pet therapy, exactly? It is essentially a guided interaction between a person (the patient) and a trained animal, often with the presence of the animal’s trainer. It is applied to help someone recover from or cope with a health problem or a mental problem, such as stress, anxiety or trauma. You can read more about the overall objectives and benefits of pet therapy

Now, let’s explore five positive effects having a pet (whether furry or otherwise) can have on people during the quarantine that much of the world is currently going through:

1- Provide Routine

Having a pet means you must look after the needs of your domesticated creature. This responsibility means there are regular chores to fulfill. Following pet caring tasks gives people a routine and additional structure to their day, arguably making life under lockdown easier. So, no matter your mood on any given day – whether, depressed, anxious, or stressed – you know that you have to get out of bed, and make sure your furry bundle of joy is looked after.

2- A Whole Lot of Affection Guaranteed

Having a pet can mean an abundance of affection in your household. Dogs are typically among the leading animals that top the friendliest pet list. After all, dogs are called “Man’s Best Friend” for a good reason. Not only are dogs fiercely loyal, but they are also extremely caring and kind, if you provide them with a secure and loving home. Some dogs will jump all over us and lick our faces exuberantly to show their affection. They may also follow us around the house and lay at our feet. Cats, who are often portrayed as being aloof or cold, are actually just as affectionate as dogs, but show it in different ways. Any cat lover would know this. For example, cats pointing their tail upright and rubbing up against owners are actually displays of affection, in addition to sitting next to those they trust and feel safe with. Cats also communicate plentifully with their owners through chirps, purrs, trills and meows!

3- Make Us Less Lonely

The lack of social interaction with quarantine measures in place can make many people feel lonely. This can apply to both people who live with others (whether family members or housemates) or those who live alone. Having pets around – engaging, living, breathing beings like us – can make us feel less solitary in our homes. Many dog and cat owners regularly talk to their pets which may have a cathartic effect on them, too. In other words, pets can play a role in offering companionship, which humans need. And emotional connectivity is vital for our species.

Ironically, while I live in a household with a dog and several people, my dog is the only one not frequently busy on a smartphone or a tablet and can give me her undivided attention all the time. I mean, what’s not to love, right?

4- Keep Us Physically Active

While pets such as cats, rabbits and guinea pigs can master using litter boxes inside the house, dogs typically need to be taken outside for walks to relieve their bladders for up to several times a day. Walking a dog can encourage regular exercise, especially if one is not active inside the house with an exercise regimen. Taking brisk walks is a welcome respite from being inside the house all day. Walking outside is a great form of exercise as long as you follow social distancing and any COVID-19 specific rules that apply to your area. And doing it with a dog in tow is way more fun! Of course you can also exercise inside the house with pets, too. For example, you and your dog can build an obstacle course (if space permits), play tug-of-war rope or do yoga together. For more ideas, check out how to engage your dog during a home workout routine courtesy of SHAPE.COM.

5- Health Benefits

Stroking a cat or simply watching a fish swim in an aquarium helps us to relax. Apparently it also helps reduce our heartbeat rate and lowers our blood pressure. Research has shown that this effect is particularly marked in people suffering from high blood pressure. One study, done over a ten-year period, showed that owning a cat can reduce our risk of a heart attack by nearly 30%. What do you think? Whether you think this is credible or quite a stretch, many people will tell you that having their pets around does help relieve stress or just makes them happy, and we all know that happiness is an antidote for stress!

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Well, before we wrap, let us say that pets are wonderful to have in the house living with us, whether temporarily (fostered during quarantine), or all the time. That said, having a pet is not suitable for everyone; it requires commitment and owners need to be able to source food and any necessary medication to cater to its well-being. Certain pets also need to live in a safe comfortable environment and need to receive proper training to make sure they fit in with their new owner(s). Too often people who adopt a pet decide to give it away when the ‘novelty’ wears off. Or once their pet reaches old age they don’t want to attend to its health ailments and opt to abandon it or give it away. We must understand that adopting a pet is a responsibility and therefore not a decision to be taken lightly.
On the other hand, Some people are allergic to certain animals or are simply not attracted to the idea of sharing their personal space with animals, period. Of course not having or wanting a pet does not mean you don’t like or appreciate animals! Many of us may enjoy hanging out with a pet that belongs to someone we know – outside our homes – but prefer to live in a pet free home.

Whatever may be your stance on pets, we can agree that they are divine, lovely creatures that need to be respected and looked after well. If you have a pet and wish to share with us your story on how quarantine is much better thanks to their presence, please do! This is a great time for sharing our experiences and learning things from each other. We would love to hear from you. You can also just post a picture of your pet or the two of you together! Goodbye for now and stay safe wherever you are!

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