Why our cats, dogs and other furry friends are survivors

Locking, job loss and social isolation were the hallmarks of 2020 COVID-19 It further strengthens its power in the world, infects millions of people and leaves an increasing number of deaths, while denying people the most basic sense – touch.

In the absence of human contact, millions of domestic animals around the world have become a nuisance to many by providing much-needed comfort through hugs, pats, and constant physical presence.

A new study published by researchers at the University of South Australia shows the role that pets will play in 2020 and why governments need to sit back and be aware.

The Journal of Behavioral Economics for Politics (JBEP) describes how pets play a crucial role at a time when human-to-human contact can be life-threatening.

Pets COVID-19

As COVID-19 hs forces people to lock in and socially isolate, pets literally became saviors in 2020. Credit: University of South Australia

Chief author Dr. Janette Young says that physical touch is a naturally accepted, even overlooked, meaning until she visited our COVID-19 door earlier this year.

“In a year when contact with people is so limited and people are deprived of touch, there have been many health effects on our quality of life,” says Dr.

“There has been a global increase in people taking dogs and cats from animal shelters during locks to fill the void of loneliness and create a buffer against stress. Growers were also flooded, and puppy requirements quadrupled some waiting lists. ”

Spending on pets was already hitting record levels, surpassing $ 13 billion in 2020 and $ 260 billion worldwide in Australia and the world, but it had to cope.

It is estimated that more than half of the global population shares their lives with one or more pets. The health benefits have been widely reported, but little is known about the specific benefits that pets provide to humans in terms of touch.

“Young people seem especially important when they are socially isolated or excluded, giving them a sense of comfort, companionship and self-worth,” says Dr. Young.

“Touch is an unexplored meaning, but the available evidence shows that it is important for growth, development and health, and that it reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. With a decrease in other sensations, touch is thought to be especially important for older people. ”

In interviews with 32 people, more than 90 percent said touching pets was both comforting and soothing, and that pets did not need it.

When the latter of dogs and cats were squeezed, saddened, or traumatized, touch samples were brought to their owners. Many people have referred to the ability of pets to “know” and want to be physically close to their human counterparts when they are not feeling well.

“The feedback we received was that pets, like humans, enjoy tactile interactions,” he said. Young says.

Not just dogs and cats. Interviews focused on birds, sheep, horses, and even reptiles.

“Animals, like humans, live by their individual interests, styles and preferences, and breathe for others. Although culturally, animals are not seen as ‘human’, they are still seen as disliked and disliked individuals.

“In the age of COVID-19, social isolation, sudden locks and upheavals in society, our pets may be the only living thing that many people can touch and enjoy.

“Humans have an innate need to communicate with others, but in the absence of human touch, pets help fill that gap. These should be considered in terms of policy, so as to help reduce some of the mental and physical stress that people experience during this period. ”

Dr. Young says hospitals, hospices and nursing homes should encourage residents to interact with pets.

“Nursing home care still does not recognize the value of human-animal relationships. “When COVID-19 restrictions were in place, if there were more pets living with their elderly caregivers with their owners, it could help people immeasurably.”

Reference: “Pets, Touching, and COVID-19: Health Benefits Without Touching Humans during Stress,” Janette Young, Rhianna Pritchard, Carmel Nottle, and Helen Banwell, December 1, 2020, Journal of Behavioral Economics for Politics.

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