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Banfield Survey on Pets and Life in Quarantine


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Love this release from Banfield the Pet Hospital which demonstrates how vital the human animal bond is. I’ve been talking and writing about how many dogs may suffer separation anxiety when suddenly the house empties as the family enters its new normal life. I also suggest (as does this survey) that humans may suffer separation anxiety being away from their pets. In fact, lots of people would prefer working around their pets compared to co-workers. No surprise many felt better in quarantine because of their pets, a natural stress reliever. And we’re apparently literally telling our pets all about how we feel.  

As the world continues to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study from Banfield Pet Hospital®reveals how weeks of increased time spent at home has affected pets and their owners. As a result of the stay-at-home orders, key findings reveal 84 percent of owners feel more attuned to their pet’s health and 67 percent plan to make changes to how they care for their pet, suggesting quarantining with our cats and dogs is about more than extra playtime and treats – it may have lasting effects on how people approach pet ownership.

“The human-animal bond now, more than ever, plays an integral role in people’s lives,” said Molly McAllister, chief medical officer at Banfield Pet Hospital. “At Banfield, we are firm believers that regular preventive veterinary care is key to helping our pets live happy, healthy lives. This survey shows that pets are always here for us – even, and especially, during the most difficult of times – and we’re encouraged that as a result of spending more time together, people are committed to finding new ways to better be there for their pets.”

THE NEW PET NORMAL

As people are spending more time at home than ever before, 20 percent say they prefer working alongside their pets over their co-workers. With some states easing stay-at-home orders, 73 percent of people are concerned about going back to the office and spending time away from their pets, with 59 percent worried their dog or cat may suffer from separation anxiety once their new work schedule begins.

As pet owners adjust to their new normal, 67 percent expect to make changes in how they care for their pet once they’re not home as often. 47 percent of people are committed to spending more quality time with their pets when they are home, 21 percent will adjust their schedule to be at home with their pets more often, and 10 percent plan to adopt another pet to help keep their dog or cat company.

HUMAN’S BEST FRIEND

Pets continue to bring joy and comfort to people’s lives every day and pet owners can attest to this. 45 percent shared that their household’s happiness has increased while spending more time with their pet during quarantine, with 39 percent revealing their pet helped lower their anxiety and uncertainty caused by the pandemic. The survey also uncovered 47 percent of millennials found increased emotional support from their pets, compared to 43 percent of Gen Zers and 43 percent of Gen Xers.

With owners spending more one-on-one time with their pets, 33 percent of people feel more attuned to their dog or cat now than before the pandemic began. That said, one-third of owners believe their pets appear to be happier (38 percent) and more playful (35 percent) during this time. Pets are also receiving extra “TLC,” with 65 percent of owners showing them increased affection. They might be getting extra treats as well, as 33 percent of owners say their pet has gained weight during quarantine.

Maybe it’s because they can’t talk (or argue!) back – 47 percent of pet owners reveal they’re talking to their pets more than before the pandemic, with cat owners (51 percent) being chattier than dog owners (47 percent), women (50 percent) talking to their pets more than men (44 percent), and boomers / Gen Xers (each at 49 percent) talking to their pets more than Gen Zers (46 percent) and millennials (45 percent).

CARING FOR PETS DURING QUARANTINE

Spending more time with their pets may have made people more confident owners: 44 percent of people feel they are more responsible and attentive towards their dog or cat. 37 percent are paying more attention to their pet’s personal care such as dental health, and 42 percent are exercising their pets more than before the pandemic. Owners are even learning new things about their pets, with 46 percent saying their pet is more active than they imagined before spending the additional time at home with them during the day.

Further, people are being forward-thinking about their pets’ health, as 20 percent are committed to taking their pets to the veterinarian for preventive care check-ups more often after the pandemic than before, and 41 percent contacted their veterinarian during quarantine, whether in person, via phone, or through a telehealth service. Banfield Pet Hospital’s telehealth service, Vet Chat™, provides their millions of Optimum Wellness Plan clients access to one-on-one chat with a veterinarian anytime, anywhere via the Banfield website and through their app. Banfield has seen nearly a 90 percent increase in Vet Chat activity since the beginning of March, with the service providing owners with general pet care advice and triage support without having to leave their homes.

MORE QUARANTINE WITH PETS DATA

  • Post-Pandemic59 percent of owners are concerned their pet may suffer from separation anxiety once they resume their normal schedule
    • Banfield recommends easing your pet into a new routine once you start spending more time outside of the home. Doing things such as avoiding emotional departures or greetings, daily exercise and giving your dog a favored distraction several minutes prior to leaving the house – including long lasting food treats such as a food puzzle or a favorite toy – can help make the transition easier on your pet.
  • Schedule Change – 67 percent of owners expect to make changes in how they care for their pet once  they’re not home as often
    • Banfield recommends using the extra time with your pet to go on daily walks, teach them new tricks, or play games of fetch as regular exercise and mental stimulation can help avoid weight gain and reduce behavioral problems associated with boredom, such as destroying property or excessive barking or whimpering.
  • A Weighty Pandemic – 33 percent of pet owners say their pet has gained weight during quarantine
    • Maintaining a healthy weight for your pet is about more than just keeping a slender waistline – it’s about living a healthy life! Unfortunately, overweight and obesity are linked to numerous other diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease; however, the good news is small changes can have big health benefits. Banfield recommends daily exercise, measuring the amount of food you’re serving in each meal and limiting treats to no more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calories.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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