VANCOUVER, WASH. — The social ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States involve more Americans spending time in their homes. For pet owners, this means spending more time with their pets. A recent survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital describes how this could impact how pet owners care for their animals going forward.

"The human-animal bond now, more than ever, plays an integral role in people's lives," said Molly McAllister, chief medical officer at Banfield Pet Hospital. “…This survey shows that pets are always here for us — even, and especially, during the most difficult of times — and we're encouraged that as a result of spending more time together, people are committed to finding new ways to better be there for their pets."

The survey was fielded between May 11 and May 15, 2020 and included 1,000 dog and cat owners across the United States.

Overall, the pet owner sentiments around spending more time with their pets is positive. According to the Banfield survey, 84% of respondents said they feel “more attuned to their pet’s health,” and 67% said they plan to change how they care for their pet.

This includes 47% of pet owners who said they plan to spend more time with their pets, 21% who are willing to adjust their work schedule to spend more time at home with their pets, and 10% who plan to adopt another pet to keep their current pet company during the day.

Additionally, 20% of pet owners surveyed said they prefer their pets as “co-workers,” 73% expressed concern for going back to work and spending less time with their pet, and 59% said they are worried their pet could suffer from separation anxiety once daily schedules return to normal.

Overall happiness and comfort among pet owners is another measure of this emphasized human-animal bond. According to the Banfield study, 39% of pet owners said being around their pet has helped reduce anxiety and uncertainty during the pandemic.

Broken down by demographic, 47% of Millennials said their canine and feline companions have provided emotional support at this time, compared to 43% of Gen Z pet owners and 43% of Gen X pet owners.

Pet behavior is another indicator. More than one-third (38%) of surveyed pet owners said their pets appear to be happier as a result of spending more time together. Another 35% said their pets are acting more playful. In return, 65% of pet owners reported they are showing increased affection toward their pets.

As shelter-in-place order keeps more pet owners at home, many are reassessing how they care for their pets. According to Banfield, 37% said they are paying more attention to their pets health, such as dental health; 42% said their pets are getting more exercise in quarantine; and 46% said their pet is more active than they would be if left alone during the day.

Additionally, 20% of pet owners said they plan to take their pet to the veterinarian more often for preventive care, and 41% said they have consulted with a veterinary professional during quarantine to improve their pets’ health.

Since the beginning of March, Banfield itself has seen a 90% increase in its Vet Chat activity, the company’s telehealth service for remote veterinary care.

Headquartered in Portland, Ore., Banfield operates more than 1,000 general practice veterinary hospitals across the United States and Puerto Rico.

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