Do you have a pet cat, bird, dog, or maybe even a reptile? If so, keep reading as to how having pets has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Mars Petcare’s recently released second annual “BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program Report, Pets in a Pandemic,” pet ownership has evolved with the pandemic and shows that for the majority (86%), pets have been a top source of companionship this year.
One major finding of the report says 58% of new pet owners cited companionship as the main reason for getting a new pet. On the other hand, the report reveals financial hardships have taken a toll on pet owners, with nearly two-thirds reporting a concern about affording basic pet costs and 13% surrendering their pet this year.
“The pandemic has affected all parts of our lives, including our family dynamics, as millions have shifted to working from home and new household routines, including our four-legged friends,” said Jam Stewart, vice president of Corporate Affairs at Mars Petcare in a news release. “Through the ‘Pets in a Pandemic ‘report, we took an in-depth look at how the pandemic has impacted pet owners and their relationships with their pets. The report uncovered a strong current of positivity around pet ownership but also showed the challenges that many pet owners have faced throughout 2020.”
“Pets in a Pandemic” was developed using data from several first-party surveys, as well as the WISDOM PANEL 2020 Pet Census1. The report outlines the benefits and challenges to pet owners in 2020, what type of support pet parents need from their local government, and how their attitudes about life with pets have markedly changed for the foreseeable future. Key data points within the “BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program Report: Pets in a Pandemic” include:
Benefits of Pets
Though this unprecedented year has upended daily life, many people found pet ownership and increased time with their pet to be a benefit.
- Among all pet owners, three quarters or more said that their pets provide important benefits in the form of companionship (86%), reduced stress or anxiety (78%), reduced boredom and monotony (75%), and reduced depression (74%) during COVID-19.
- Thirty percent of pet owners welcomed a new pet this year, with more than half doing so for companionship (58%).
- Half of the survey respondents reported spending more time with pets as the primary benefit of working from home – even ahead of increased flexibility (46%), cost savings from lack of commute (47%), and more time with family (36%).
Many pet owners have faced financial challenges throughout the pandemic, leading to difficult decisions, the news release added.
- Sixty-one percent of pet owners felt concerned about their financial ability to pay for their pets’ expenses.
- Twenty percent of pet owners have considered giving up their pets in 2020, and 13% actually did.
- Of pet parents who considered giving up a pet during the pandemic, 31% said access to pet-friendly housing resources would have been helpful, while 32% said short-term financial help and 30% said more access to pet services or support would have been helpful.
- City officials acknowledged their communities’ difficulties in recent months. One in three city officials has heard concerns from residents about the financial challenges of pet care and the potential need to re-home a pet.
- Sixty-four percent of city officials favor assisting pet owners due to the pandemic.
As more people have grown accustomed to working remotely alongside their pets, many are fearful about the realities of returning to the workplace and leaving their pets behind.
- Seventy-eight percent of working pet owners expressed concern over their pets’ anxiety and/or confusion when they return to a normal work schedule.
- Similarly, 75% of working pet owners have expressed concern about their personal anxiety if they have to return to work without their pet.
- Two-thirds of working pet owners who are spending more time at home today would like the ability to take their pets to work, and another two thirds would be likely to do so if allowed.
As we look to 2021 and beyond, people are expressing a desire to bring their pets with them and finding reprieve in having them present outside of the home.
- Fifty percent of pet owners would be comfortable bringing pets to outdoor stores, events, and patio seating at restaurants. Similarly, 50% of dog owners said they’d be more comfortable in these same spaces if they could bring their pet.
- Nearly two in three pet owners say they’re likely to travel again in 2021, and about 60% of pet owners want to bring their pets along when they travel.
These insights all point to a critical need for more individual assistance and pet-friendly accommodations, as pets have become even more integrated into peoples’ lives. Looking ahead, pet owners are hoping to have their companions at their sides when it comes to their daily routines, traveling, the workplace, and visiting community spaces, the news release added.
The “BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program Report: Pets in a Pandemic” leveraged data and insights from pet owners and city officials across the country. This year, the report’s results-focused heavily on living with pets in a pandemic, revealing the reliance and comfort we seek from pets during difficult times and how our communities are adapting to accommodate them.
To view the full “BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program Report: Pets in a Pandemic,” please visit www.BetterCitiesForPets.com/PetsInAPandemic and visit BetterCitiesForPets.com for more information and resources about building more pet-friendly communities.
Source: Mars Petcare