Lucky are those who have dogs by their side to help them cope with the pandemic as it continues to turn our whole lives upside down. From funny dog stories to quiet moments while we snuggle with our fur babies, their presence brings so much joy and comfort to get us through these lengthy lockdowns and uncertain times. In a 2020 survey published in the research journal Plos One, it was found that pet owners who had pre-pandemic mental health issues developed a stronger bond with their companion animals.
The world changed overnight — jobs, businesses, and even relationships as we all followed the global mandate to stay at home. But one thing remains constant — the love our pets give us! More than all the cuddling and playing, we’ve listed down more benefits of having pets, specifically dogs, at a time when we are dealing with drastic changes we were not really prepared for.
1. They make us stick to a routine
Our usual daily routines were disrupted when the pandemic began, and we suddenly found ourselves confined inside our houses rediscovering hobbies we’ve neglected and struggling to find a sense of normalcy in our day-to-day living. Having dogs helps us deal with this problem — one bright side of the lockdown is that we actually have more time now to look after our pets. Usual activities like bathing them, feeding them, and taking them out to your yard for an exercise become more meaningful, and encourage you to be productive when you’re feeling the strong urge to just lay in bed all day and do nothing.
2. They improve our mood and overall well-being
Just one snuggle from our dogs is enough to instantly pick our moods up when we’re having a rough day. Now that the situation is extra challenging for us to deal with, our fur babies are a great source of comfort for us more than ever before. Here’s the science behind it: whenever we are with our pets, our brain releases serotonin and dopamine — the “happy hormones” that fill us with overwhelming joy and excitement every time we see our loved ones. In fact, pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, effectively reducing their risk for cardiovascular diseases and depression.
Exercising is also a good way of releasing endorphins within our bodies — and what better way to work out than with your beloved doggo? Being physically active with them not only ensures that you stay healthy even while cooped up at home, but also helps ease anxiety and decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness.
3. They encourage us to become more sociable
You most likely have already experienced someone randomly walking up to you at the park to strike a friendly conversation with you whenever you’re with your dog. This is a common scenario among pet owners as dogs are great conversation starters — once you start talking about your respective pets, it creates a newfound bond, especially if they are fur parents, too! This is particularly important for letting us be accustomed to the outside world again after a long while of having no hooman to talk to, and helping us reconnect with actual people as opposed to only conversing through screens.
As restrictions are gradually eased, you may resume socializing with other dog owners in the park or wherever pets are allowed (but make sure to keep a safe distance!). If you still prefer to stay at home, there are other amazing ways to reach out to other fur parents in the online community such as through Facebook groups, virtual doga sessions, or even the comments section of dog pages on various social media platforms.
4. They inspire us to do better
The global health crisis has taken its toll on most people’s mental health, and it goes without saying that a number of us are confused as to what to do next or how to move forward in the new normal.
The big responsibility of having dogs changes our perspective on things as we grapple with the effects of this pandemic. As they need to be fed, maintained, and given regular medical care, we find a renewed sense of purpose as their primary caretakers — they inspire us to do better at whatever our source of living is so we could provide only the best for them.
So even if you’re feeling a bit burnt out with working or studying remotely and have no idea what’s next for you, keep in mind that you have someone there at home who needs you like a child does his parent — not minding what you’ve achieved for the day, but is simply there for you no matter what.
5. They teach us to live in the moment
The pandemic made most of us realize how fragile life really is, and our pet dogs are among our top reasons for making the most out of our lives and really treasuring our moments with our loved ones. Dogs and cats are known to be creatures who truly live in the moment — they don’t wallow in the past nor obsess over the future, for all they know is to be in the now. We could learn a lesson or two from our pets: focus on what you have at present, especially at this time when not even tomorrow is promised. Slow down and cherish your time with loved ones (albeit virtually), and hug your pets extra tighter every day!
Taking Care of Your Dogs’ Health during Lockdowns
While some parts of the world are starting to lift lockdowns, we are not out of this health crisis yet. Apart from taking care of your own, here are some helpful tips to keep your pets’ health in tip-top shape as we navigate the new normal.
- Social distancing is for pets, too — teach them to keep a safe distance from other dogs should you need to bring them outdoors.
- If you get sick with COVID-19, reduce contact with your dogs, or be sure to properly wear a face mask when tending to them.
- Prepare a pet essentials kit for when you’re unable to care for your pet if you get ill. Include 2 weeks’ worth of their food and enough medication to last them for at least 30 days. Double-check if the kit has everything they will need before handing them over to a trusted relative, friend, or neighbor. Leave your vet’s contact details handy in case the need for them arises.
Coping with the Pandemic, One Day (and Dog) at a Time
These are just some of the benefits of having a dog or any pet to help us cope with the pandemic. While they can’t replace our usual lunch breaks at work or nights out with friends that were all hampered because of the pandemic, our dogs provide us with priceless love, care, and comfort that we all need to pull through. Have you shown your appreciation to your pet today?