Pets have brought immeasurable comfort for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)

Pets have brought immeasurable comfort for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)

PET CARE: Pandemic pet boom helps ease isolation for owners

Veterinarian and pet care columnist Nicolette Joosting looks at our pets during COVID-19

By Nicolette Joosting

Every morning, the cats will follow me downstairs, carefully swirling around my legs, expressing their excitement for the morning ritual. We will snuggle safely together on the couch, coffee in hand, in time to listen to the latest COVID news.

Pets have been a boon to us during the pandemic. Our forever friends, they have been at our side throughout, delighting in our continuing company. They have helped us set up the home office, encouraged binge-watching, understood when every day is a pyjama day, and have been there to comfort us whenever the stress threatened to overwhelm us.

Collectively, we have reached out to animals to bolster our mental health in the last year. More than ever, we have flooded social media with happy animal memes. Significantly, we have encouraged unscrupulous and inhumane breeders in our desperation for animal companionship, paying premium prices for puppy-mill dogs. Ignoring the warning signs, we have “rescued” animals, falling for the numerous scams.

SEE ALSO: Too many new pet owners, not enough vets make getting animal care a problem

Shelters and animal welfare groups are frantically putting in place programs in anticipation of the flood of expected surrenders that will happen when we can no longer care for our pandemic pets.

But did we really reach out for pet companionship as mindless consumers, to discard them when no longer convenient?

Numerous studies tell me that my cats are lifesavers. They lower blood pressure and decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels, significantly decreasing the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The sound of a purr, even recorded, is instantly calming.

While pets can be demanding and occasionally noisy, they are the greatest companions, absorbing our stress communication and offering a paw, lick or cuddle when needed. Caring for a pet gives us an anchor, staves off dementia and helps mitigate Alzheimer’s. Walking a dog will help keep you fit, socially engaged and mentally active.

The inter-species relationships we forge are essential to our survival as a species, our individual and collective adaptation to adverse events and our personal path through life. No technology can replace the real-life interaction, with all its ups and downs. It was our instinctive knowledge of this, I think, that helped foster the COVID pet boom.

SEE ALSO: From hamsters to horses, BC SPCA celebrates 125 years of protecting animals

This year, and especially on Valentines, let us not forget to appreciate the love and joy our pets give us.

They are weathering this pandemic and the resulting changes in our habits with us. It has been stressful for them too. Our faces are different, we smell of harsh alcohol disinfectants, our behaviours have changed, and we cannot comfort them at the vets. Despite it all, they still show us love.

My cats do not care for the news. Their best part of the day is when my behaviour is reassuring them of love and companionship. We thrive on these moments of togetherness. It is a symbiotic relationship, with all the careful give and take of any relationship, so incredibly beneficial to us.

We will get through February, and whatever the future holds, together.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Items seized by Chilliwack RCMP and Abbotsford Police during a Feb. 23 traffic stop. (RCMP photo)
Police from Chilliwack and Abbotsford seize drugs in traffic stop

Chilliwack RCMP worked with the Abbotsford PD to seize four kilograms of suspected fentanyl

(Black Press file photo)
Chilliwack RCMP looking for man who tried to grab boy near Robertson elementary school

A man in a parked minivan reached out the driver side window as a young boy passed by

Hope’s station house, moved from its original location along the railroad to 111 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit Agassiz and beyond

The first in a three part series on dairy farming, palm oil and Canadian consumers

real estate sign
Chilliwack’s February real estate numbers show homes flying off the market

President of the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board said he’s ‘never seen anything like it’

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Photo: Surrey RCMP
Surrey RCMP arrests two boys, age 16, during dial-a-dope investigation in Whalley

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said one boy is ‘alleged to have been in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest’

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read