Pets helped reduce stress in confinement

A study determines that keeping an animal in the confinement was related to maintaining better mental health and reducing loneliness

Sharing the house with a pet acted as a buffer against psychological stress during confinement psychological stress, according to a survey conducted by the University of York and the University of Lincoln, in the United Kingdom, published in the magazine ‘PLOS ONE’.

The majority of people who participated in the research, between March 23 and June 1, perceived that their pets were a considerable source of support during the period of confinement.

The study found that having a pet was linked to maintaining better mental health and reducing loneliness. About 90 percent of the 6,000 participants had at least one pet.

The strength of the human-animal bond did not differ significantly between species, with cats and dogs being the most common pets, followed by small mammals and fish.

More than 90 percent of those surveyed said their pet helped them emotionally cope with the confinement and 96 percent said their pet helped them stay fit and active.

However, 68 percent of pet owners reported being concerned about their animals during the confinement, for example, due to restrictions on access to veterinary care and exercise or because they did not know who would take care of their pet if it became ill.

Lead author Dr. Elena Ratschen, from the York University Department of Health Sciences, notes that “the findings of this study also demonstrated potential links between people’s mental health and the emotional bonds they form with their pets. : Measures of the strength of the human-animal bond were highest among people who reported lower scores for outcomes related to mental health at baseline. “
“We also found that in this study the strength of the emotional bond with pets did not differ statistically by animal species, meaning that people in our group felt on average as emotionally close, for example, to their guinea pig as to their “dog,” he adds, “it will be important to ensure that pet owners receive adequate support to care for their pet during the pandemic .”

The co-author, Professor Daniel Mills, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, highlights that ” this work is particularly important at the present time since it indicates how having a pet in your home can cushion part, However, everyone must appreciate the needs of their pets as well, as our other work shows that not meeting them can have a detrimental effect on both people and their pets.

Dr. Ratschen points out that while the study showed that having a pet can mitigate some of the detrimental psychological effects of Covid-19 closure, “it is important to understand that this finding is unlikely to be of clinical importance and does not warrant any suggestion. that people should acquire pets to protect their mental health during the pandemic. “

The study also showed that the most popular interaction with non-pet animals was bird watching. Almost 55 percent of the people surveyed reported observing and feeding birds in their garden.