It’s no secret that the current pandemic has shifted the ways we live and see our lives. Research has shown that half of Americans feel that their lives have been changed completely during the pandemic. In countless ways, COVID-19 has dropped the curtain time and again on our old ways, from school to work, socializing, and family, everything has been affected.
For many who have found themselves spending more time at home, pets seem to have come to the rescue. They are providing us with warmth and companionship in a time where we’re all spending too much time by ourselves.
And we’re no strangers to pets: about 67% of households (about 85 million American families) own a pet. Although that number has been slowly rising since the first time the survey was taken, the love we share for pets never knew boundaries, making us closer to our pets now than we were 50 years ago.
So, what’s changed?
Aside from there being more of them, People and families have been adopting a lot more since the pandemic began. During the first few months after March 2020, there were recorded instances of pet shortages at local shelters (incredible). With more adoptions—and shortages—came an increasing demand for purebred or pedigree dogs in some states which led to a spike in puppy prices and raised concerns about a looming “pup welfare” crisis as people return to work after months of remote, pandemic work.
A recent study by Money.com and Morning Consult has revealed that more than half of new pandemic pet owners chose to bring their new pets home due to stress or feelings of uncomfortable solitude brought on by social distancing and remote working. More people struggle with loneliness during the era of social distancing and look for ways to relieve stress. As a result, there is a bigger need for furry friends. Moreover, the love and care that’s available to them seem to be growing too.
Unsurprisingly, the pet care industry is flourishing. The American Pet Products Association (APPA), reported $99 billion in sales of pet supplies and vet care during 2020, the largest amount to date. Similarly, Petco reported an increase in YoY sales between 2019 and 2020 of 10%.
Man’s best friend(s)
Six in ten Americans report cherishing and valuing their pets more now than before COVID-19. More than half say they’re way more affectionate now than they were a year ago. It’s safe to say that pre-pandemic life saw most of us hurtle through our days and checklists, leaving our furry friends with little to no play and quality time during the week, and although they pretty much sleep through the day now, too, having us around has become normal to them, and it has made us more appreciative of their wiggly hearts.
We really love our pets. The past few decades have seen a massive change to the way American families view and treat their pets. Many of the families (two-thirds) say they’d spend anything to save their lives. Furthermore, more than 80% say they’d spend any amount they could afford. The pet insurance industry has seen double-digit growth since the start of the pandemic, and people are slowly opening up to the idea of paying healthcare for their mutt the same way they do for their kid.
Even employers are now making pet insurance part of their known benefits package, proving a case in point that people really care about their pet’s well-being.
Pet Care During the Pandemic
The pandemic has made many of us working from home realize that our pets pretty much get lonely the same way we do.
Spending so much more time with them at home has strengthened our human/pet relations in many ways, allowing us to care more for our pets and become better companions to them. With them being used to spending long hours alone while we’re off working, I’m sure they feel the same way!
Many people reported enjoying or cherishing their pets more than during the previous year, which makes sense considering how loyal pets can be and the insane amount of time spent at home.
Veterinarians have asked those in their communities to focus on organic ways to keep their pets in tip-top shape, allowing them to make room for emergency matters such as accidents and other incidents that require more immediate attention.
Some procedures, such as spaying and neutering, dental surgery (unless critical), and declawing, should be put off until lockdowns. Vaccine measures allow for more in-house capacity for businesses.
Here are some helpful strategies to help your pet healthy during quarantines:
Exercise and play: Dogs will especially appreciate those extra walks, but cats and some birds are also very social animals who love to play and will benefit from those increased activity levels.
Give yourself space and time to figure stuff out: Pets can be very receptive of our emotions, check-in with yourself from time to time and make sure you’re doing all you can to learn and adapt to this changing experience.
What’s next for the pet care industry?
The pet industry has more than doubled in the past decade, with more families owning pets, and more families owning a variety of pets, the increase in adoption rates during the past year speaks directly to the heart of American citizens who are struggling during a difficult time. Pet insurance companies have had to step up their game, mobilizing apps and user-friendly claims processes, and developing a network of care providers throughout the country in an effort to equalize pet care to all parts of the US.
Guest post contribution by Wally De La Rosa from Money.com
Written by: Usman H. Yahya Reviewed by: Stephanie G. Gabriel