Pets linked to maintaining better mental health and reducing loneliness during confinement, new research finds


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Sharing a home with a pet appeared to act as a buffer against psychological stress during the lockdown, according to a new investigation.

Most of the people who participated in the research saw their pets as a huge source of support during the lockdown period. (March 23 – June 1, 2020)

The study – from the University of York and the University of Lincoln – found that having a pet was linked to maintaining better mental health and reducing loneliness. About 90 percent of the 6,000 participants from the UK had at least one pet. The strength of the human-animal bond did not differ significantly between species, with the most common pets being cats and dogs, followed by small mammals and fish.

Over 90% of respondents said their pet helped them deal emotionally with the lockdown and 96% said their pet helped them stay fit and active.

However, 68% of pet owners said they were worried about their pets during confinement, for example due to restrictions on access to veterinary care and exercise or because they were unsure who would be looking after of their animal if it fell ill.

Lead author Dr Elena Ratschen from the Department of Health Sciences at York University said: “The results of this study also demonstrated potential links between people’s mental health and the emotional links that people have. They train with their pets: Human-animal Bond strength measurements were higher in people who reported lower scores for mental health-related outcomes at baseline.

“We also found that in this study, the strength of the emotional bond with pets did not differ statistically across animal species, meaning that people in our sample on average felt as close emotionally, for example, to their guinea pig than their dog.

“It will be important to ensure that pet owners receive the proper support to care for their pets during the pandemic. ”

Co-author Professor Daniel Mills of the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln said: “This work is particularly important right now because it shows how having a pet in your home can alleviate some of the associated psychological stress. However, it’s important that everyone appreciates their pet’s needs as well, as our other work shows that failure to meet them can have a detrimental effect on people and their pets. ”

Dr Ratschen added: ‘While our study has shown that having a pet can alleviate some of the damaging psychological effects of COVID-19 lockdown, it is important to understand that this finding is unlikely to have significance. clinical and does not justify any suggestion. that people should acquire pets to protect their mental health during the pandemic. ”

It is estimated that over 40% of UK households own at least one pet.

The study also showed that the most popular interaction with animals that weren’t pets was bird watching. Almost 55% of those surveyed said they observed and fed the birds in their garden.

The article titled ‘Human-Animal Relationships and Interactions During UK Lockdown Phase of COVID-19: Investigating Links to Mental Health and Loneliness’ is published in the journal, PLOS ONE.

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Citation: Pets Linked to Maintaining Better Mental Health and Reducing Loneliness During Lockdown, New Research Shows (2020, September 25) Retrieved September 26, 2020 from / 2020-09-pets-linked-mental-health- solitude.html

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