The majority of pet parents in the US say their furry friends have been a top source of companionship this year amid the pandemic, with 58% of new pet owners citing companionship as the main reason for getting a new pet, according to a new report from Mars Petcare.
The report, ‘Pets in a Pandemic’, identifies how pet ownership has evolved with the pandemic and highlights the benefits and challenges to pet parents in 2020, including some of the financial challenges involved with taking care of their pet.
According to the report, among the pet parents polled in a survey, 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.
Nearly a third, or 30%, of pet parents welcomed a new pet this year, with more than half doing so for companionship (58%).
Meanwhile, half of the survey respondents reported spending more time with pets as the primary benefit of working from home. This figure was ahead of increased flexibility (46%), cost savings from lack of commute (47%) and more time with family (36%).
“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,” Jam Stewart, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Mars Petcare, said. “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,” Stewart said.
Financial challenges of having a pet
Many pet parents have faced financial challenges throughout the pandemic, leading to difficult decisions.
The study showed that 61% of pet owners felt concern about their financial ability to pay for their pets’ expenses. At the same time, 22% of pet owners have considered giving up their pets in 2020, and 13% actually did.
Of the 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.
According to the study, city officials acknowledged their communities’ difficulties in recent months. One in three city officials have heard concerns from residents about the financial challenges of pet care and the potential need to re-home a pet.
The majority, or 64%, of city officials favor providing assistance to pet owners due to the pandemic.
Working from home
Most working pet parents 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.
Half, or 50%, of pet parents 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.
As for traveling with a dog, nearly two in three pet owners say they’re likely to travel again in 2021, and about 60% of pet parents 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,” Mars Petcare stated. “Looking ahead, pet owners are hopeful to have their companions at their sides when it comes to their daily routines, traveling, the workplace and visiting community spaces.”