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Most pet parents care more about their furry friend’s mental health than their own

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Cute smiling young man lying with two dogs on bed covered blue blanket and looking at camera.
(Photo by Maples Images via Shutterstock)

Nearly three in five pet parents (59%) think the pandemic has increased their fur pal’s separation anxiety, new research suggests.

A recent survey of 2,000 cat and dog owners found that 59 percent have also gotten or have considered getting an additional animal companion for their existing pet.

Of those who’ve brought or considered bringing a new fur friend home, roughly three in five did so to keep their first pet company (58%), to teach them how to interact with other pets or animals (57%) or to improve their socialization skills (55%).

When it comes to emotional support, seven in 10 said their pets rely on a stuffed animal. 

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Spot Pet Insurance, the survey also found that it takes an average of five and a half months for a new pet to start acting odd. 

The most reported odd behaviors were making loud noises (61%), hiding from, or avoiding others (58%), and jumping (50%).

Owners of rescues and adoptees chalk their odd behavior up to stress or anxiety (66%), while those who purchased their pets said lack of experience with humans or domestic living is to blame (51%).

Rescued or adopted pets were more likely to seem antisocial around the same type of pet than those that came from a breeder (77% vs. 60%).

Seven in 10 pet parents (69%) said they take their pet’s physical or mental health more seriously than their own.

But three in five (63%) are at a loss for what to do to improve their pet’s socialization skills when odd behaviors arise.

After working from home, those who have returned to an office have gone the extra mile by taking their pet to daycare (40%) or bringing them along to work (38%).

To help with their pet’s social life, people will play with them (61%), talk to them more (51%) and simply spend more time with them (50%).

Sometimes, though, people turn to alternative means for help for their pets, including behavioral training with a specialist (41%) and even acupuncture therapy (37%).

“Holistic health isn’t just for humans; we see more pet parents pursuing a range of health and wellness options for their pets today,” said Trey Ferro, CEO at Spot Pet Insurance. “That includes activities that keep pets mentally and emotionally healthy, like socialization and behavior training.”

When faced with questions about their pet's health or behavior, most turn to their vet (60%), more so than online pet blogs (48%) or fellow pet parents (43%).

But 63% said they wish they'd known who to call for advice when they brought their pet home for the first time.

“Having a community of pet parents to connect with and share advice with can help people tap into the joys of pet parenting,” Mr. Ferro added. “Still, it’s important to develop a relationship with your vet or pet health specialist so you can turn to them whenever you need serious pet health counsel.”

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