Many Americans adopted a pet to help cope with the changes from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting social distancing policies last year. But as life begins to return to normal, so are people's schedules — and many new pet owners are concerned about the consequences.
In its latest survey, pet food company Hill's Pet Nutrition discovered that 69% of Americans who have adopted a dog or cat during the pandemic are now worried about how these new changes will affect their pet in the months ahead.
Changes on the horizon for pandemic pets and their owners
Hill's Pet Nutrition found that almost half (49%) of all new pet parents in the US adopted their new furry friend during the COVID-19 crisis. The reasons they gave varied, with many pet owners saying they wanted:
- A pet for their human family members (39%)
- A companion for themselves (36%)
- Emotional support during the pandemic (34%)
- A new pet to keep their other pets company (34%)
Others went the extra mile for their new family members, going so far as upgrading their homes and living spaces with their pets in mind, according to a recent survey from Ally Bank.
But with more people returning to in-person work and a different survey finding that unemployed workers are once again seeking full-time work, the routines that owners and their pets have maintained during the crisis are likely to change as consumers adapt to life after the pandemic.
In fact, veterinarians predict that newly adopted pets will especially struggle with the following during this transition to post-pandemic life:
- Separation anxiety (87%)
- Changes to their routine (86%)
- Less attention from their owners (82%)
There's hope for these pandemic pets, though: Although 79% of pet parents are understandably excited for things to return to normal, 83% of respondents believe they'll stay home more often than they did before so they can spend time with Fido.
Veterinarians offer tips on helping new pet owners through this transition
Surprisingly, the Hill's Pet Nutrition survey also found that spending more time apart from their pets offers a few advantages as well. Veterinarians shared that new pets will especially benefit from learning how to be more independent (82%) and eating fewer treats throughout the day (53%).
They also offered some tips on helping both pets and pet owners through this transition, including:
- Leaving pets alone for short periods of time (91%)
- Making an effort to keep pets on the same routine (86%)
- Keeping pets on the same nutrition plan (56%)
Of course, the months ahead may not exactly be smooth sailing for pets and their human families. As a result, veterinarians also recommended that new pet parents look out for the following behaviors in their four-legged companion during this adjustment period:
- Going to the bathroom where they shouldn't (88%)
- Acting out (81%)
- Exhibiting changes in mood or behavior (79%)
- Not eating food (53%)
Methodology: Between April 26-30, 2021, Kelton Global conducted an online survey of 1,078 American new dog and cat owners as well as 275 veterinarians on behalf of Hill's Pet Nutrition.