How can pets benefit us during quarantine?

September 8, 2020 1:57 PM

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A black cat rests on its stomach. Photo courtesy of Emmett Hughes.

A black cat rests on its stomach. Photo courtesy of Emmett Hughes.

Nick Trout, a veterinary surgeon and author, says “Pets are our seat belts on the emotional roller coaster of life — they can be trusted, they keep us safe, and they sure do smooth out the ride.” I couldn't agree more with this statement. My two cats have added so much to my life, and have most definitely smoothed out this quarantine. In turn, the rewards of responsible pet ownership in these times of stress continue to provide serious benefits to those who live with them. I encourage you to learn about fostering or adopting a pet to improve your own life.

In a time where loneliness and social disconnect pose serious threats to our mental health and stability, experts report that the impact of our animal-human interactions can tremendously help maintain our general well-being. The daily back and forth that an owner can share with their pet is a joy. As someone who lives with two amazing cats, I can say that seeing them do their routines and have such unique personalities brings a certain type of light into my life. Whether it’s how they yell to say “hello,” or sometimes pay me too much attention, I could not live without them.

The coexistence that occurs between animals and their owners provide social and emotional benefits and physical benefits, too. For example, the calm from watching your dog’s mannerisms and day-to-day activities or even watching a fish swim around its tank has been recorded to lower some people’s blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, dog owners’ mandatory walks can promote physical activity for some who might not otherwise get it during the lockdown.

For all of the benefits that animals bring to our lives, there is one hugely important thing to consider before adoption: whether or not you can financially and emotionally provide for these pets after quarantine. It is a prime reason why some people would advise not adopting a new pet at this time. Do not take this warning lightly; it is an entirely valid concern. When adopting a pet, people often do not consider the cost of raising and taking care of this important part of your life. So in a time with a lot of job uncertainty, putting this financial concern in your back pocket can pose a serious threat. Not only that, but when life goes back to normal and you must leave your home, will you still be able to care for your beloved pet?

It turns out that when it comes to this, you can live in a perfect world. The first and only step in eliminating these obstacles is understanding the responsibility that you would accept.

Of course, if you conclude that you will not be able to support this pet long-term, there are other options to still experience the benefits of pet ownership. In that case, I recommend looking into pet fostering. It allows for you to help raise a pet until there is space at the adoption center, or until it is prepared for shelter life. This experience would allow you to enjoy time in quarantine with this animal, and then help it return to the shelter once it is ready. Then again, should you come to realize that you are indeed ready to adopt during your time spent with the animal, you can always focus on that from there.

Whether you feel like your life is lacking the daily purposes that you used to have, you feel disconnected from all social and emotional activities or simply want the companionship of a new animal, responsible pet ownership can provide for and help solve those issues. They might help you to get outside more, limit your stress or just make your life so much happier. So for me, the investment is entirely worth it. However, before jumping into anything, make sure you understand the needs of an animal and what you must contribute — for your safety and theirs. Or, as an administrator of an adoption center or shelter, make sure those who are adopting know their responsibilities in taking care of their newfound companion. Either way, make sure to always love and take care of your pets, and they will return on that in more ways than you might know.

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