Nearly 1 in 4 California pet owners fear separation anxiety when they return to work, survey reveals

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CANTON, Mass. – How will I ever live without you? As many Americans have spent their time during the coronavirus stay at home orders working, living, sleeping and exercising in their houses, their pets have become used to having their humans home all day, which could pose potential emotional stress or separation anxiety when things return to usual – for both humans and their pet counterparts.

Mira-Pet, a specialist in oral hygiene technology for pets, conducted a survey of 3,000 pet owners across the U.S., which revealed that almost one in four pet owners in California, 23%, were concerned about separation anxiety from their pet when they return to work once stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic have been fully lifted. From the survey results, it appeared many pet owners have developed stronger emotional bonds with their animals during this stressful pandemic period than before it happened.

While cats are typically more comfortable in their own company, dogs will feel the separation more, according to Mira-Pet. About a quarter, 26%, of pet owners said they were worried their pet will have separation anxiety when lockdown restrictions are fully lifted and they spend less time at home.

The therapeutic effects caused by the presence of an animal is called social recognition, which is identifying another being as someone significant in your life. Healthy social relationships – including humans and pets – can play a key role in mental well-being, which is why without them, people may feel depressed, lonely and unwell. The survey found that 73% of pet owners said their furry friend has helped them with their mental health during lockdown.

Many owners were willing to sacrifice a portion of their salary to be at home with their pet more; 38% of pet owners said they would consider a small pay cut in order to continue working from home after lockdown so their pet wouldn’t be lonely. Moreover, over half, 57%, of people thought that having an office pet would boost team spirit and increase productivity.

There were positive aspects to spending so much time with a pet during the stay-at-home orders, such as 65% of respondents said it was the companionship their pet provided, 19% said it reduced their anxiety, 9% said their pet became more affectionate, 5% said they felt safer being in lockdown with their pet and 2% said their pet encouraged them to be more active. The survey revealed that 74% of pet owners said their animal’s hygiene levels were higher during lockdown.

Of course, there are also negative aspects of being in lockdown with pets. The survey found that 45% of people said the worse aspect was that their pet was very loud, 24% said it was having to clean up their pet’s mess more regularly, 17% said their pet was a distraction from work and 14% said it was their pet’s bad breath that made it the hardest.

“Not only will your pet find it difficult to readjust to their human not being around, as a pet owner, you are likely to experience similar feelings of separation anxiety from your warm, compassionate furry friend,” Stephen Spector, CEO of Techmira Corp., which owns Mira-Pets, said. “To ease the emotional stress you may feel, if you have a housekeeper or loved one who is home during the day, you could ask them to video call you so you can check in on your pet. If you live alone, this option is slightly trickier but not impossible as there are also an abundance of devices available online, such as webcams specifically for your pets.”

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