Companion Animals Buoy Owner’s Mental Health During Lockdown

The University of York and the University of Lincoln in England partnered to complete a study to determine if pets acted as buffers against psychological stress during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Drs. Elena Ratschen, Emily Shoesmith, Lion Shahab, Karine Silva, Dimitra Kale, Paul Toner, Catherine Reeve and Daniel Mills surveyed nearly 6,000 participants on the role their animal played in their lives during the pandemic. In total, nearly 90 percent of the responders had at least one pet–334 (6.3 percent) of participants owned horses or ponies. Interestingly, the human-animal bond did not differ significantly between species.

Their answers overwhelmingly denoted that having a pet was linked to better mental health and reduced loneliness. More than 90 percent of respondents said their pet helped them cope emotionally; 96 percent said their pet helped keep them fit and active.

Over 65 percent of pet owners indicated that they were concerned about their animals during lockdown. The main concerns were restricted access to vet care and exercise, and who would care for the animal if they became sick.

The overwhelming majority of dog, cat, horse and other companion farm animal owners reported that their animal is an important source of emotional support.

Read the full study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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