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Pets of the Pandemic: Has the Covid-19 Crisis affected our four-legged friends?

dog and cat wearing a mask dog-cat-serious

How did our pets live the pandemic?

© Shutterstock

A new year is here, following what has arguably been one of the most challenging for many people. We decided to take a look into the impact of the pandemic on pets. Here’s what we found out.

By Greta Inglis

Published on the 13/01/2021, 11:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:23

With cases of Covid-19 emerging in spring 2020, lockdowns and restrictions ensued worldwide. With this came huge changes in lifestyle - not just for us - but for our dogs and cats too.

The Dog’s Trust lockdown survey found that 97% of respondents were happy to have the company of their dog during lockdown, with over half reporting that they felt more relaxed when with their dog.

Surprising? Not to all us animal lovers out there!

More concerning were the following findings:

  • 82% of people noticed an increase in their dogs barking or whining when people were busy
  • 41% of people felt their dog was more clingy

Helping your pet adapt

Our dogs and cats can become unsettled by sudden alterations in their environment, leading to changes in behaviour. With this in mind, how can we help our pets adjust?

  • Feed your pet at the same time each day. This helps create a feeling of stability. 
  • Engage their minds with brain games and training. This offers great mental stimulation during increased periods inside.
For more information on separation anxiety and how to prepare your dog for time alone, visit our guide here

Increased Adoptions: What Does This Mean For UK Rescue?

Here at Wamiz, we champion adoption. So much so that we’ve spent the last few months launching our own adoptions platform, to help match dogs and cats with their forever families. We’ve heard of the great work rescues are doing, and also how difficult the pandemic has been. Many have been forced to close to the public, freeze adoptions, cancel fundraising events and hold off on home-checks.

Tracy, of GRACE Greyhound Rescue and Coordinated Emergencies told us she has had to manage without volunteers during restrictions, and fundraising events have been called off.

It’s not just smaller rescue groups that have been affected. Battersea, as one of the UK’s oldest rehoming centres, has suspended all rehoming and intake until further notice from December 2020.

More optimistically, it seems that while rescue groups and charities have been put under unprecedented pressure in some ways, applications and adoptions have also increased over recent months, to the point where some rescue groups aren’t able to meet the demand for dogs. With some applications coming in from those working only temporarily from home, rescues are being very cautious to make sure adoptive homes are able to offer long-term security and full-time commitment.

Rescue group Hessa’s Homeless Hounds told us they felt adoption applications were on the rise, with more people looking to adopt. Whilst they felt there will always be many dogs waiting for loving homes in countries such as Romania, they are currently finding that adoption requests come in as soon as the dogs are ready for rehoming. Tracy of GRACE has also noticed an increase in adoption applications.

This all begs the question: Could the UK follow in the steps of countries like the Netherlands, with very few stray dogs and those in rescue spending little time there before moving on to forever homes?  Or are we seeing the effects of temporary changes in lifestyle, with possible problems down the line?

Pandemic Puppy Sales

It seems adopting through rescue is not uniquely on the rise... 

The pandemic has brought with it an absolute boom in puppy sales too, with one in four people admitting that they bought their puppy on impulse. Research carried out by the Kennel Club, for their #BePuppywise campaign has shown less than half of people looked in to puppy training before getting their dog

Shockingly, one in five who bought a puppy during the pandemic told the Kennel Club they hadn’t considered the long-term commitment and 83% stated they weren’t asked about their suitability as an owner. With financial pressure following the pandemic and a lack of socialisation opportunities for puppies, this could pose not only welfare concerns going forward, but may result in puppies being given up in months to come. The start of this becomes apparent from online searches, with an alarming number of 5-6-month puppies being sold on already. One family, rehoming their Dachshund for £2,300 cited ‘financial difficulty’ while others put the sale down to not being able to offer the right lifestyle due to ‘work commitments and lack of time’ or the puppy being ‘too much’.

What Will 2021 Bring?

Reflecting back on this historic year, we wonder what 2021 will bring our pets… Will people begin leaving their dogs and cats home alone for more time than they’re used to? Will puppies purchased in haste during 2020 prove too much and be sold on or rehomed? Or has the pandemic forever altered our appreciation of these wonderful companions, leading to more happy homes for dogs and cats than ever before?

We certainly hope so! Because loyal and loving as only they know how to be, our pets deserve a lifetime commitment.