Coping during COVID-19: The Power of Pets

Pets reduce stress during COVID
Vinnie as a puppy

Waypoint Counselling Network is running a series on coping during COVID-19.  These posts will focus on common challenges people are facing and offer some concrete tools to use.  So, let’s dive into the first one on our pets!

Power of Pets: Coping with the Stress of COVID-19

Those of us with pets know that our animal companions must think that every day is a weekend!  Dogs are not off to Doggy Daycare or at home alone while their owners are the office.  And cats are wondering why their favourite chair is now occupied by a human!  Instead, our animal friends are home with us – and the benefits can be significant.

Research has shown that pets can make us happier, healthier, less stressed and believe it or not – more productive when working from home.  A study in 2012 from Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees who were able to bring their dog to the workplace reported being less stressed and more productive.  And it wasn’t just in the reports of employees – the level of a stress-induced hormone called cortisol was found to be lowered among those that spent time with an animal.  This finding is not unique to workplaces but has also been found among pet owners at home and patients in the hospital.

And as we hunker down and stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, pets can provide routine and a sense of normalcy.  The animals in our lives are loving the extra attention and social media is full of great videos and photos of the cats, dogs and other companions in our lives.  Feeding them, caring for them, and in the case of dogs, taking them out for regular exercise provides us with much-needed routine that is not centered around the pandemic.  Our pets have no idea what is going on – so they offer us a break from the never-ending news cycle and conversations that focus on COVID-19.

Another power of our pets during COVID-19 is that they are nun-judgmental, they do not spread rumours or “fake news”, and don’t care what we talk to them about.  How perfect is that?  But there are questions about the virus being spread by touching an animal’s fur.  The advice on this is changing – for current information, a good source is the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

Check out our future posts on the following topics:

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Depression
  • Financial stress
  • Family and parenting
  • Trauma experienced by health care workers
  • Sleep problems
  • Substance use
  • Working from home
  • Power of mindfulness
  • Power of music

All Waypoint counsellors in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna offer online counselling via phone or secure video.  Check out our team or contact us to be matched with the most appropriate counsellor for your needs.