You’ll have heard this one before — but we’re going through unprecedented times. To contain the Covid-19 outbreak, a lot of what we used to take for granted has been put on hold: pubs, holidays, seeing loved ones and even going into the office. It’s unlikely to be a shock to learn that lockdown is causing stress and anxiety for many people. But it appears that our pets are more than stepping into the breach to help — according to a National Accident Helpline poll.

In a survey of 2,000 people nationwide, a huge 87 per cent revealed how their pets kept them calm during times of stress and worry. And now is a pretty obvious time of uncertainty for millions up and down the land. Of course, there are those pet owners (barely 3 per cent) who don’t get that inner peace from their furry friends. But, with such an overwhelming majority, is it really any wonder that Battersea Dogs & Cats Home says more households are now looking for a pet?

How do pets help us overcome stress and anxiety?

To get the inside track on how pets can help in times of stress, founder Dennis Relojo-Howell explains:

‘Research has shown that pets can help us adapt to stressful events. Take — for instance — the current crisis that we’re going through. If you have a pet, this can provide you with an opportunity to relax and calm your mind. Our interactions with our pets can soften the effects of adverse events and can decrease our stress’.

Life, at the best of times, is full of stress and anxiety, from work woes to relationship strains. As the research author, National Accident Helpline knows a thing or two about helping people — offering no win no fee representation after serious accidents. But this survey shows there’s a constant source of support whenever we need it — and that comes from our pets. They might force you outdoors for fresh air or keep you company for hours on end. It all counts, right?

It seems almost unfair to split hairs when it comes to specific breeds — but it’s also useful to know what tops the pops at the same time. Leading the pack when it comes to our favourite dog breeds in the UK, it’s the faithful Labrador Retriever. Just behind in second and third are spritely cockapoos and livewire springer spaniels. For cats, meanwhile, the nation’s breed of choice is the somewhat aptly-named British Shorthair — followed by Bengals and Persians.

A calming influence — but also a distracting one too

With millions now working from home, it’s fair to say the calming influence of our pets does come with conditions. The more you’re at home, the more they want to know you. After all, pets love your company as much as you love theirs. But, if you’re dialling into an important Zoom call or have to get the accounts done before the month’s end, our furry friends can be that distraction we don’t need — and 69 per cent think their pets could do with a better sense of timing.

But the National Accident Helpline poll also shows — weirdly — that distracting pets are more problematic in different cities. Bristolians (84 per cent), people in Leeds (82 per cent) and Norwich (81 per cent) were quick to agree that pets distracted them from other tasks around the home. But more than a quarter (27 per cent) of residents of Sheffield have no issue when their pets crave affection. During the working day, there are surely some times when that distraction is so welcome?

So, there you have it. Pets rally around us in times of needs it would seem. For pet owners, it’s never more appreciated than the current time. For non-pet owners, you’ve always wanted a cat or dog – haven’t you? Well, there really is no time like the present.


Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay