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Dog ownership helped buffer psychological impact of pandemic

Purina surveyed 1535 current and potential dog owners, with those who were dog owners reporting a stronger sense of social support and lower depression scores

Dog ownership helped to support dog owners during the pandemic, by helping levels of depression, anxiety, happiness and perceived social support, according to a new survey carried out by Purina.

The online survey questioned 1535 current and potential dog owners, which underscored the psychological and physiological effects of COVID on individuals, with 67% of participants reporting they felt that COVID had had an emotional impact on them.

One-third of participants also felt that their health had been impacted by the pandemic, while 45% had experienced a financial impact. However, those who were dog owners reported a stronger sense of social support and lower depression scores

Purina said that “the results suggest that the bond between dogs and their owners has helped to buffer against some of the negative psychological impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The survey comes as pet ownership surged during the pandemic, leading to an increase of £45m in pet sales.

Francois Martin, applied behaviour and welfare research section leader at Purina and lead Purina scientist on the project, said: “Our research showed that dog owners fared better from a social support and emotional standpoint during COVID than people who like dogs but didn’t own one during the pandemic. Our work adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the power of the human pet bond, especially in times of stress.”

Libby Sheridan, purina scientific affairs manager for the UK and Ireland, added: “It’s clear that all individuals have found it stressful coping with the effects of the pandemic. This study shows that dogs played an important role in people’s lives by offering comfort and companionship throughout these difficult times.”

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