PH Furparents, pet owners increased since COVID-19: Here’s Why

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The number of pet owners in the Philippines (and the world, really) has increased since COVID-19.

The countless pet videos we see on social media and the happy announcements of new pets adopted ever since the pandemic began can attest to the statement above. So, whether we look at statistics or not, we unconsciously know this fact since pets are great companions in times of isolation – the general concept induced by the COVID-19 health emergency. Still, let’s take a look at the pandemic’s impact on pet ownership around the globe.

Overall, one-third (33%) of global households choose dogs as their companions at home. Meanwhile, less than one-quarter (23%) choose cats, and 12% choose fish, while the remaining households (42%) choose either exotic or no pets at all. But this was according to a global study conducted by Growth from Knowledge (GfK) last 2016. Much has changed since then, especially when we take a glance at the global pet market.

In a report by Common Thread Collective, it is found that there is a staggering 63% of growth in total global pet revenue since COVID-19. Cat food sales grew up to 162%, dog food at 159%, kitty litter at 125%, and pads and trays up to 125%. In just one year, the global pet market industry grew from $216 billion in 2020 to $232 billion in 2021. Also, the region with the greatest growth in the Asia Pacific at 9.3%.

All these numbers lead us to believe that pet ownership has increased worldwide, more so in the Asia Pacific region.

But why exactly is pet ownership a trend, especially in the recent health emergency?

The Role of Pets During COVID

In a survey conducted by fidofortcollins.org, pets play a critical role in reducing the negative impact of the pandemic on a person’s mental health. One of the primary key points found in this study is how dogs help reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loneliness. At the same time, they give people a sense of purpose and meaning, regularity of schedule, coping with uncertainty, and compassion towards oneself.

According to Psychologist Lori Kogan ( chair of the Human-Animal Interaction Section of the American Psychological Association and professor of veterinary medicine at Colorado State University), “pets are a respite from the difficulties of life,” providing their human companions “an outlet to give.” While human relationships can be complicated, “relationships with animals are simple.”

Dr. Margit Gabriele Muller, executive director of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital in the United Arab Emirates, also known as the “falcon whisperer” of her nation, authored the book Your Pet, Your Pill: 101 Inspirational Stories About How Pets Can Lead You to a Happy, Healthy and Successful Life. Here, she shares how all pets can help people overcome numerous emotional and physical challenges. This is especially true during a global lockdown, where there is a lack of human connection. In fact, playing with or petting pets for a short period is found to reduce blood pressure as well as increase hormones associated with the feeling of “contentment.” These hormones are called oxytocin, also known as the “bonding hormone” or “cuddle hormone,” often released with a simple, gentle touch. 

To summarize, pet ownership induces various positive effects on humans. After all, as Muller shares, a pet is someone who “loves you unconditionally, who is there for you 24 hours a day, and who doesn’t mind how you look today.” Overall, “they are just there to love you, and this brings a tremendous benefit for the entire family.”

There’s nothing else we can do, really, but be thankful for these cute little critters for being our source of happiness and hope despite the challenges we face during these troubling times.

Want a boost of serotonin? Here’s a cute little video of how our pets see the pandemic. Enjoy! 

Also Read: Taking Care Of Your Mental Health Amidst A Global Pandemic