2020 has delivered plenty of surprises all across the spectrum, from disastrous to wonderful. One boom that almost no one could have predicted is the pet boom experienced stateside. Pet adoptions in the U.S. this year saw a surge unlike any before, a direct result of Americans being forced to stay home. Pets are providing much needed emotional support for a nation reeling from the pandemic. Not only are pet lovers adopting more than ever before, but they are shelling out for their furry friends at unprecedented levels too! Pet supplies sales shot through the roof, to the tune of double-digit percentage increases from March through July (compared to the same time last year, according to market research firms SPINS and IRI.
A projection from the American Pet Products Association posits that Americans will spend a record-high $99 billion this year on pet-related things, from food to veterinary care. This staggering figure is indicative of the care and attention people give their pets. Plus, pet merchandise is estimated to be one of the top gift-giving categories, according to a survey by consulting firm Deloitte.
Support When You Need It
Americans struggling with the anxieties of the world experience welcome relief with their pets, whether that means Mittens is cozying up to watch a movie as snow falls outside, or taking Chance out for an afternoon walk so he can bark at pigeons again. Dogs especially provide the energy and love that people need when it is sapped after a long day. Not to mention, caring for something besides yourself gives you something else to focus on, pulling it away from the fears, bad news, and the increasingly scary world outside.
Our pets provide an almost immeasurable value to us in these troubling times. What’s remarkable is that they do so without saying a word, often without making any noise at all. Their ability to communicate calm, assurance, and joy despite the craziness of our world is precisely why they are so ubiquitous.
Why Dogs Make You Happy
Although there are numerous animals providing emotional support to their owners (whether they realize it or not), dogs are consistently one of the most sought after pets in the country. Study upon study has demonstrated that man’s best friend helps people maintain a more positive, optimistic perspective on life. What’s more, pooches can lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. They do so by increasing levels of oxytocin as you cuddle and play with them, which calms your nervous system, relaxes you, and even increases your trust. On the other side of that coin, petting dogs also lowers your cortisol, the stress hormone. Studies performed at the University of New York discovered people felt lower stress levels while conducting a stressful assignment when they had a pet with them.
The physical fitness benefits cannot be ignored either, as owning a dog inevitably means you will be taking them out for walks. Playing with them, keeping them entertained, all of these things contribute to a more active lifestyle. Science backs this too, as clinical studies have indicated lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels (which both reduce the risk of heart-related illnesses!)
The Long Haul
What is perhaps most fascinating about the rise in pet adoptions is the fact that this focus on pets won’t be going away anytime soon. As both flexible working schedules and working from home grow in popularity, pets will continue to be vital parts of American households. Put simply, people won’t be keen to just return their animals when the pandemic is over. The bonds formed in quarantine aren’t likely to be ruptured or affected, even if the routines created during the lockdown do.