Lockdown highlighted positive links between pets and mental health
The pandemic lockdowns have brought about a period of adjustment between humans and their pets. Both in the UK and abroad, vets for example have been allowed to remain open as essential services, showing the importance of the link between pets and their owners. It was essential that if you were stuck at home and your dog or cat was sick, that you were able to visit a vet. Research has shown there is a strong connection between pets and peoples mental health. They are a part of the family and to many are their children.
In France, ‘adopting a pet’ was listed as a permitted reason to leave your home over the lockdown period. In Spain, people were allowed to go out to walk the dog. On the other hand, children were confined to their homes for 45 days. It was reported that neighbours were borrowing dogs just get out their front doors and stretch the legs.
The same was in the UK. Dog walking was listed as an acceptable exercise over the lockdown periods. Again, people were ‘borrowing a dog’ just to get out of the house. Rather than the daily commute to work, dogs being left on their own during the day, pets and owners and their families spent quality time together. Dogs loved the extra ‘cuddles’ and attention including treats and extra walks. They have been true ‘winners’ to the point that some pets and humans have found it difficult to re-adjust to the ‘normalities’ of everyday life.
Dogs and pet owners all benefitted from the time together.
Pets are part of the family
Our four legged friends are part of the family. They welcome you home and their warm companionship is a positive tonic to people’s mental health.
Now over 40% of UK households own at least one pet. The UK has over 9 million dogs and over 7 million cats.
Veterans With Dogs Charity, a small charity based in Devon, trains and provides assistance dogs for current and former members of the British Armed Services with service-related mental health conditions. Their aim is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health conditions by providing specifically trained dogs. It is all about improving the quality of life for people. Even stroking a dog or a cat has shown to relax people and help those with mental health issues.
Pet Ownership in the UK has doubled since the 1960’s
This Mental health Foundation highlights how dogs and cats can help people who suffer from depression, anxiety, stress, which are all issues which leads to mental health problems.
Work, Home and Pets
Pre lockdown, life was about the daily commute and most people had not heard about zoom calls. It was all about looking professional.
The came lockdown with the majority of people having to work from home and use zoom calls or an equivalent IT system. It suddenly changed from ‘I am on a work call, please can the children be quiet’, to the other extreme of it is ‘fine if my cat or dog wants to jump on my lap and say hello mid call or I can hear children in the background’. Overnight, it became acceptable and it was no longer viewed as unprofessional. Makes sense, as we were all ‘in the same boat’.
Dogs and cats relaxed people. They provided comfort during difficult times and our pets loved the extra attention.
From a professional perspective, seeing someone else’s dog or cat, created a bond with fellow pet owners, with comments about breeds, names, age and funny stories. However, while some pets have thrived on extra attention, others have not. Some dogs and cats have not liked the constant distraction of zoom calls, feeling left out.
Animal charities have raised concerns that some pets have been stressed by changes of routine and busier households. They have found it difficult to adjust as lockdown has eased and people have begun to return to work.
Advice suggests maintaining a regular routine, giving animals space and ‘quiet time’ and gradually reintroducing periods away from the family to avoid a ‘ticking time bomb’ of separation anxiety as life slowly returns to normal. We also need to consider the mental health or of dogs and cats and not just our own.
This Warwick University article outlines this blog and how important pets are in people lives when it comes to mental health.
Children growing up with pets much better behaved
According to this recent Country Living Article, pets make a positive impression on children growing up. Research results outlined by the article, make the following points:
- Children who played with their family dog three or more times a week were 74% more likely to regularly engage in mindful behaviours.
- Those who joined their family on dog walks at least once a week were 36% less likely to have poor social and emotional development.
- Children from homes with dogs were 23% less likely to have emotional problems.
- Children from dog-owning households were 40% less likely to have problems interacting with other children.
- 34% of the children from dog-owning households were more likely to engage in considerate behaviours, such as sharing.
To summarise pets have a positive impact on people mental health of all ages. Then why is it so difficult to find pet friendly rentals in the UK. A problem unlike in many other European countries. Landlords are concerned about damage and noise; however, 99% of pet owners are considerate and look after properties.
Landlords should consider renting to people with dogs and cats and take it on a case by case basis.
At Pets Lets, not only do we have a pet friendly property portal with a London & Home Counties Relocation Service, we have also set up a Pets & Property Facebook Group which is all about educating landlords about the positives of allowing pets as well as offering advice to pet owners.
We relocate clients with pets from around the world to London and the Home Counties. We know how important pets are to people. Travelling with pets can be stressful. We work with pet travel partners to take the stress
Russell is the Founder of Pets Lets, a 100% pet friendly London property portal with a Relocation Service. Pets Lets is a community where people with pets’ matter. Russell is a staunch advocate for increasing the number of pet friendly landlords in the city.
If in doubt, come join our Pets & Property Tips Facebook Group for professional advice on renting with dogs and cats in the UK.