Pets of the pandemic

Pets and the pandemic: the evolution of pets at home

Pet ownership throughout the pandemic has increased. In fact, in many historical "times of crisis" furry friends have demonstrated resilience and "super powers" un-matched by most humans, and we have historically turned to animals in times of need.

In retail terms when disaster strikes humans spend more on their pets. Whether this is a new lead or toy for an existing pet, or even a first-time pet purchase, time and money investment in animals soars in times of crisis. But, the current COVID-19 crisis is a different beast (pun intended) altogether.

Alongside home-brewing kits and board games, dog breeders reported a 111 per cent increase in demand in the early months of the pandemic. Why? Because times are hard on all fronts, and animals make us happy.

"Stay at home" orders have created the perfect environment to keep an animal, with long hours spent in the office now a thing of the past, our home life has been transformed.

What was a kitchen is now an office, classroom and maybe an escape from screaming kids. For some of those living on their own, the pandemic has been an incredibly lonely time and many have turned to pet ownership as a coping mechanism.

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Science says interacting with a dog or cat lowers your blood pressure and cortisol levels, and stimulates hormones that help our bodies relax. Not only do animals offer companionship, comfort and support, but they also fulfill the need for physical touch.

So, what happens when our COVID-state transforms again? With people drip-feeding back into the office, and the kids going back to school, it will no longer be us who lack the interaction it will be our four-legged friends.

Science says interacting with a dog or cat lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels, and stimulates hormones that help relaxation

It is important to remember that like humans, animals get bored. Hours spent alone can result in mischievous behaviour, so consider ways to keep them occupied, and of course, happy. Invest in good-quality distractions that don't cost the earth.

"Consider a mix of home-made toys and shop-bought toys, and rotate them regularly to keep your pet's interest," PawsSpree co-founder, Adriana Koh said.

"Also consider buying local. Many products you find in independent pet stores will be locally sourced or hand-made, and may last longer than something you purchase cheaper online. Plus you will sleep well knowing you have contributed to your local pet store in a time of need.

"Brands such as Rosewoodare really raising the toy-tech bar. You will find everything from freezable chew-toys to 'bio-safe' materials with a unique BioCote antimicrobial technology. This prevents growth and survival of microbes and bacteria, mould and fungi, which could harm your pet."

Pets now outnumber people in Australia, with more than 62 per cent of households home to one or more animals. Australians are now considered "more likely" to have a fur baby, than a human one. So, it is no surprise either that we are paying closer attention to what and how we feed our pets.

"If your homely hair-ball is the type to follow you around until you feed them, check out PETKIT's Fresh Element Mini Smart Pet Feeder," Adriana said.

"Connected to your smart phone you can maintain control of feeding times. Simply load up the feeder with food, and deposit portions throughout the day, to save your fur-ball from scoffing their food the moment you leave for work, and being agitated for the rest of the day."

Niche diets and specific tastes to cater for can obviously get expensive. Investing in a food dehydrator can be beneficial to both you, and your pet. A dehydrator can transform everyday essentials such as chicken and fruit slices into handy, jerky-style treats, at a fraction of the cost. Not only will your pets be snacking better but so will you."