Six months into COVID-19, the pandemic still keeps us distanced from friends and family. But there’s one group that we’re even closer to—our fur-kids.
Recent studies show that pets are present in our daily life like they’ve never been before. Whether making cameos on Zoom calls, co-hosting virtual gatherings, or taking up new socially distanced hobbies, they’re spending substantially more quality time with their humans.
A prime example? Kansas City-based Kent Luther, proud dog-dad of six and SVP of U.S. Pet Health Retail for Elanco Animal Health. “I count myself lucky that for most of my career, I’ve been able to focus on the importance of pet health. With the lines between work and home blurring—it’s even more apparent how healthy pets play a role in the health of their people,” he says. “Whether I’m fishing, on a conference call, or doing yard work, my dogs make life better.”
While pets are keeping us mentally and physically healthy, we’re helping them stay healthy as well. Keeping up with parasite prevention is one critical component, particularly as getting outside more with Fido is one of the rare silver linings of our increasingly isolated state. Approximately one in five dogs visiting dog parks are infected with intestinal parasites, according to research conducted by Oklahoma State University, IDEXX and Elanco. Of the estimated 76 million dogs in the U.S., more than 15 million could be unintentionally spreading parasites on any given day.
Local organizations like Pet Resource Center of Kansas City (PRCKC) are helping people ensure their pets remain healthy during the pandemic, so they can be together longer. “If you know us, you understand how much we love pets,” said Michelle Rivera, PRCKC founder and CEO. “Helping to keep pets healthy is how we care for the people in our community.”
Here are the top three ways COVID-19 has changed the relationship we have with our dogs:
1) They’re giving us more emotional support.
There’s been a rise in mental health challenges this year, including stress, anxiety, and loneliness. But with more time spent at home, 68 percent of dog owners report their pets have become even more of an emotional companion.
2) We’re making their lives better, because they make ours better.
Whether toys, treats, or medication, dog owners have reported increased spending on pets during the pandemic. In fact, there’s been a 22.2 percent increase in spending on dog supplements and over-the-counter medication and a 9.7 percent increase on treats and toys.
3) Dogs are likely to remain focal points in their owner’s lives.
Many workplaces are extending work-from-home policies into next year, and dog owners are taking advantage. Ten percent report they’re more likely to work from home to spend time with their dogs and 11 percent are more likely to take their dogs more places away from home after the pandemic.
As the special bond between dogs and their humans evolves, keep in mind that at the core of the bond is the health and happiness of the pet. Pets play a big role in maintaining health and happiness in life, so let’s prioritize theirs.