From Pickle to Chuck, Graham and Mr. Banks, more than 16,000 of you submitted on behalf of your furry, fluffy and feathered friends in Australia’s most important survey (obviously) the Pet Census. Considering around 50% vouch for a canine bestie, and 20% support more than one hairy human, that’s a lot of little heads.
Covid lockdowns have been a sign of the times, not just for the two-legged of us coming to grips with confinements, daily walks, being obedient... but for your four-legged mates. If you’ve started to think Obi could host your next Zoom, or if Blossom might really want to help with homeschooling (not to be confused with home-drooling) you are in fact, not alone.
Think you’ve been seeing a whole host of furry new faces at the dog park? You have.
30% of us added a furry Covid friend to the family in the past 18 months, with 17% of these being a rescue or shelter addition. Special shout-out to ‘Gladys’ the rescue in amongst these new previously lonely little guys who now have a home! On top of that, 819 people let me know that their new pet was their first. The key difference with Covid furbabies is that they won’t know any other world than you spending an increased amount of time bonding, as you work from home.
Although puppy schools and bonding routines look a touch more pixelated since the pandemic began, it seems nearly 30% of respondents just couldn’t bear to continue the daily exercise routine, or cold, lonely nights without someone - or something - to accompany them.
This isn’t surprising considering the mental health benefits of owning a companion animal, with studies showing interactions with animals help with depression, anxiety, and stress, in particular under stress-prone conditions.
State of mind
Amidst my personal chuckles to a few eyebrow-raising responses, the collated results of the Pet Census are a serious indicator of what your furry friends are eating (or not eating), and not just their physical health in the current state of play, but their mental health too.
When it came to pet neediness, 30% of dogs were needier than usual, and 17% of owners confirmed they now had a stage 5 clinger on their hands. Yeah, going back to work might need a treated departure… or two… every morning.
However, for those that did return to work, when asked how their pets responded, the highest answer at 44% was a subtle disappointment. Next at 28% counted for the pets that began to struggle with anxiety and loneliness.
For the dog parents, I asked how they’d say their dog’s mental health had changed over the last 18 months. 27% said their pooch was a little perkier (I wonder why... 50% of you let them snuggle up in your bed), while 16% confer that their dog was finally having its day. So happy in fact, that they’re pretty much ready to paw their first self-help book.
As for physical health, I was so pleased to find 77% were still taking their dog to the vet in the same manner they were pre-Covid. It’s important not to skimp on the same amount of concern and care as you would with regular routines in place.