The coronavirus pandemic forced policies involving compulsory lockdown and isolation to prevent virus transmission.
However, several studies conducted during this period indicate that lockdown conditions cause low states in our mental health due to psychological disorders associated with the impacts.
Additionally, new research at the University of York in Britain explored the impact and the benefits of having pets involving dogs and cats to alleviate mental health issues.
The research was performed during the first lockdown stage involving about 6,000 participants above 18 years. The lockdown period ranged from March to June before the UK government reduced the limitations. The study surveyed whether owning a pet managed some of the negative variations in mental health conditions and perhaps the benefits of preventing loneliness feelings.
During the survey, a large percentage of the participants owned dogs followed by cat owners. However, only a few people owned other animals such as horses, guinea pigs, birds, and fishes.
Most dog owners expressed they had a strong relationship with their pets, followed by horses and cat owners during the lockdown. Other animals had fewer scores in the affectionate bond results.
What the Research Says about Mental Health Benefits of Pets
Most pet owners feel their animals are an excellent source of significant social support and well-being. When the researchers compared the results to non-pet owners, findings showed a smaller reduction in mental health issues and possible loneliness during the lockdown period. Therefore, the results suggest that a pet creates a potentially beneficial shield against the psychological distress linked to lockdown or isolation.
However, according to the survey, additional reports showed some worrying aspects related to owning pets. For instance, 68 percent of all pet owners expressed their pets’ concerns might limit accessibility to veterinary services since the lockdown started.
Additionally, 41 percent worried about who will take care of their pets if they were sick, while 18 percent expressed challenging concerns when trying to find pet food.
Besides, various concerns expressed by all the participants, almost 99.7 percent of the participants reported they will still retain their pets since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other primary focus of this study was whether dogs or cats impact human psychological well-being. During the survey, most participants, especially dog owners, agreed that they helped them cope emotionally with the COVID-19 trauma. Also, almost the same percentage of respondents agreed that owning a pet produced a positive effect on their family during the lockdown.
Besides, about 90 percent of the participants felt their pets were a source of significant support during the lockdown. Also, approximately 96 percent claimed their pets improved their fitness and made them more active, especially dog owners.
Final Words from the Recover
Generally, this study’s crucial conclusion shows that pets significantly reduced mental health issues and loneliness due to lockdown.
Besides, if you realize you are struggling with mental health conditions during the lockdown measures that are still affecting you presently, there is full recovery hope. Whether you own a pet or not, it doesn’t mean you cannot receive full support to address your needs. Ensure to check on a list of available rehab directories near you for professional help. You can also inquire whether they provide pet therapy as part of their treatment program.