A woman pets her dog while working on her laptop during COVID-19 quarantine.

PetPlace Research Study: 70% of Pet Parents Love The Stay-at-Home Order

With no clear plan for U.S. states to unilaterally reopen after being hit by the COVID-19, regions have been left to their own devices when it comes to navigating the reopening of communities, businesses, and schools. The news has been rife with stories about the anxiety-ridden parents of school-aged children, but has not mentioned the stress felt by apprehensive pet parents.

In a survey sent out to PetPlace readers, about 29% feel confident about returning to work, while 31% are planning to stay home indefinitely, and 27% feel unsure about how to approach going back to their place of business. Of those returning to work, 24% are concerned about their pet experiencing separation anxiety.

Anxiety For Pets & “Hoomans”

Separation anxiety is common for pets if they’ve been left home alone for extended periods of time. With most pet parents having spent every waking hour with their furry friends since the country shut down in March, it wouldn’t be unusual for pets to start feeling anxious as their parents return to work.

How can you tell if your beloved dog or cat is experiencing anxiety? For starters, you might come home to find pillows torn apart, shoes eaten, or walls scratched. These acts that might seem like aggression are actually nothing of the sort; they are cries for help because your pet is in distress.

On the flip side, however, pet owners have also reported that their furry friends have helped to ease their own anxieties. One respondent told us that the experience has been mutually beneficial for her and her dog.

“Being on my own, and self isolating, my dog has been the greatest companion. I have been out each day for at least an hour’s walk despite arthritis in both knees. I doubt if I could have coped so well without her.”

Another respondent reported that their animal companion was essential to their lifestyle over the past few months.

“Seeing to their happiness, and ensuring they have a healthy life became the most important thing. The pandemic shutdown placed my lens of focus on this; I’ve experienced a level of love and engagement beyond words.”

In fact, 70% of those who filled out the survey said that they loved having time at home with their pet during the stay-at-home order, and another nearly 18% said they enjoyed their time, but are ready to have some space away from their pet.

Pet Parents Struggling With Economic Hardship

In addition to the mental and emotional challenges that have come along with the pandemic, almost 7% of respondents lost jobs or opportunities, which has had a negative impact on their ability to care for their pets.

Some respondents told us that they are broke right now, some said that they can’t afford basic veterinary care as a result of the pandemic, and some said that they worry about how they’ll be able to continue feeding their pets.

Even those that can still afford pet food have reported a shortage or delay with their food supply due to the coronavirus.

“Pet food deliveries have been hit or miss with half the food I’ve ordered being sent back to the facility due to being ‘unable to deliver’ and what does make it through has to be checked to ensure freshness, as some of the food I’ve received has been old stock or expired.”

Like those who have spent the past few months perfecting their sourdough starter for friends and family, some pet parents have been working on their homemade treats as a way to bypass food chain supply issues (and to perfect a new skill).

Looking Towards the Future

While some pet parents are struggling with their current situation, the overwhelming majority have enjoyed the extra time with their furry friends. Many of them are excited to return to some version of “normal,” with 70% looking forward to being able to take their pet for a non-emergency pet visit, 35% anticipating a trip to the groomer, and 23% counting the days until their dog walker can resume service.

Although there’s no way to know for certain what the future will bring, this pandemic has been a wonderful bonding experience for pet parents everywhere.

Check out this video summary for more survey highlights.