Is Pet Anxiety on the Rise? The Numbers Say Yes
So much has changed in the past two years.
For one thing, much of the globe experienced lockdowns. Masks became a frequent sight. Children stayed home for part of the schoolyear…and so did many of their parents. But no matter how frightening, confusing, or difficult our collective pandemic experience was, one thing remained steady through it all.
The love of our pets.
Companion animals like cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, and even fish, reptiles and exotic pets were great helpers when it came to enduring the challenges brought on by 2020.
In fact, researchers have concluded that pets can ease anxiety. Interacting with animals regularly has been found to reduce loneliness, decrease stress hormones, boost happiness, and more. As the National Institute of Health summarizes, “Animals can serve as a source of comfort and support.”
Of course, being a pet parent yourself…you already know that!
But regrettably, it isn’t always a two-way street regarding stress for humans and animals.
Pet Candy investigates what the numbers say about the rise in anxious pets, which factors are driving the increase, and what can be done to support our furry, feathered, and four-legged friends.
What is Causing the Surge in Pet Anxiety?
Before we begin, let’s look at some statistics.
Between 2020 and 2021, approximately 23 million U.S. households adopted a cat or dog. If that number sounds large, it’s because it is! This is a staggering amount of animals. Pets became a lifesaver for many families. Suddenly, we had more time on our hands. Plus, confined to our homes and backyards, millions of people wanted an affectionate little friend to keep them and their children company.
So, adoptions went up.
This was welcome news for shelters and animal rescues.
However, what new owners did not expect was for the wave of anxiety-related issues to overshadow their journey into pet parenthood. Particularly, once things started to return to “normal.” What happened?
Well, there are several reasons why pet anxiety is on the rise.
First and foremost, our critters got used to having us around 24/7. From making coffee in the morning to logging onto the computer for work and spending the entire afternoon and evening together, cats and dogs spent an enormous amount of time in our presence. But today, jobs are requiring a return to in-office work.
That means animals are having their routines disrupted. For puppies and kittens adopted during the pandemic, they know no different. As a result, processing this change has led to a significant increase in pets being diagnosed with anxiety.
How bad is it, really?
The American Kennel estimates that 14% of dogs have separation anxiety (and this is likely an undercount).
Yet when all anxiety issues are lumped together, this jumps to over 70%. Yikes!
Environmental factors also contribute to pet anxiety being on the rise. For instance, an abrupt change in living situations, which was common during the early days of the pandemic. Having so many people being at home together (often in close quarters) all at the same time added noise and disruption to many pets otherwise quiet days.
Another factor driving the surge has to do with lack of socialization.
Regrettably, experts say that adopted so-called “pandemic puppies” are facing socialization challenges. The first few months of a puppy’s life are crucial for learning how to politely socialize with other people and dogs. Unfortunately, pandemic social distancing requirements derailed puppy classes and playdates.
As a result, we are seeing many young dogs who now struggle with anxiety, aggression, and anti-social behaviors.
Together, this all points to the concerning trend of pet anxiety being on the rise.
Fortunately, there are solutions!
Although pet anxiety is a growing problem, it is not a brand-new phenomenon. Veterinarians and behaviourists have successfully been treating anxious pets for decades. There are plenty of products available that, when paired with training, can greatly reduce your pet’s anxiety.
For instance, Brave Paws Daily Anxiety and Stress Support.
This comes in the form of tasty beef-flavored chewable supplements with natural and sustainably sourced ingredients. It’s also non-drowsy, fast acting, and melatonin-free.
A paw-some option for anxious pets everywhere!