You are here: Home / Journal Articles / Pet ownership, feelings of loneliness, and mood in people affected by the first COVID-19 lockdown / About

Pet ownership, feelings of loneliness, and mood in people affected by the first COVID-19 lockdown

By A. Martos Martinez-Caja, V. De Herdt, M. J. Enders-Slegers, C. P. H. Moons

View Resource (HTM)

Licensed under

Category Journal Articles

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic changes to our lifestyle, particularly affecting our ability to interact "in person" with our social network. These changes have had a detrimental effect on the mental welfare of the global population. The international questionnaire "Pets in Lockdown" was designed to investigate whether feelings of loneliness were affecting the mood of people during the COVID-19 lockdown and whether pet ownership may have had a positive influence on both loneliness and general mood. As expected, higher loneliness scores were associated with higher negative and lower positive affective states. In addition, lower loneliness scores were associated with pet ownership and living with other people, but not with more frequent interactions with people from outside the household, suggesting that physical and close contact has an important role in decreasing feelings of loneliness. Besides the effects on the loneliness score, pet ownership was not associated with positive or negative affective states. The strength of the attachment to animals, measured as the amount of comfort that people obtain from their pets, was stronger in people with potentially limited access to affiliative physical human contact and was associated with both higher positive and negative affective states. Additionally, people obtained significantly more comfort from dogs and horses compared with other pet species. The results suggest that during the confinement period, pets may have benefited people with smaller social networks by alleviating loneliness and offering comfort and embodied close contact.

Publication Title J Vet Behav
Volume 57
Pages 52-63
ISBN/ISSN 1558-7878 (Print)1558-7878
DOI 10.1016/j.jveb.2022.09.008
Language eng
Author Address Ethology and Animal Welfare Research Group, Department of Veterinary and Biosciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium.Department of Neurology, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium.Faculty of Psychology, Open University; Heerlen, Netherlands.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Covid-19
  2. Human-animal bond
  3. Loneliness
  4. Pets and companion animals