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The psychosocial influence of companion animals on positive and negative affect during the COVID-19 pandemic

By L. R. Kogan, J. Currin-McCulloch, C. Bussolari, W. Packman, P. Erdman

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The initial months of COVID-19 forced people to quickly adapt to dramatic changes to their daily lives. As a result of the inevitable decrease in access to social support available during the lockdown phase of COVID-19, countless individuals relied upon their companion dogs and cats. Given the strong connections people often have with their companion animals, this study hypothesized that companion dogs and cats would positively impact guardians’ mental health. Anonymous, cross-sectional online surveys were used to test this premise. A total of 5061 responses, primarily females (89%) from the United States (84%), were analyzed. Results suggest that companion animals played a critical role in helping reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loneliness for a majority of pet guardians. Companion animals also helped increase guardians’ experiences of self-compassion, ability to maintain a regular schedule, feel a sense of purpose and meaning, and cope with uncertainty. This was most pronounced for women under the age of 40 who were highly bonded to their companion animal. In conclusion, our study suggests that a companion dog or cat can buffer the effects of extreme stress and social isolation as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Date 2021
Publication Title Animals
Volume 11
Issue 7
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani11072084
Author Address Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.lori.kogan@colostate.edu jen.currin-mcculloch@colostate.edu bussolari@usfca.edu wpackman@paloaltou.edu perdman@wsu.edu
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted therapies
  2. Animals
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Anxiety
  5. APEC countries
  6. Attitudes
  7. Canidae
  8. Canine
  9. Carnivores
  10. Cats
  11. Countries
  12. Developed countries
  13. Dogs
  14. Emotions
  15. Health care
  16. Humans
  17. Infectious diseases
  18. Injuries
  19. Mammals
  20. Men
  21. Mental disorders
  22. Mental health and well-being
  23. Non-communicable diseases and injuries
  24. North America
  25. OECD countries
  26. open access
  27. Pandemics
  28. pathogens
  29. pathology
  30. Pets and companion animals
  31. Primates
  32. Psychiatry and psychology
  33. sociability
  34. Social psychology and social anthropology
  35. surveys
  36. United States of America
  37. vertebrates
  38. Virus diseases
  39. welfare
  40. Women
  41. Zoology
  1. open access