During the current circumstances, the world is facing it is easy to understand why many people in quarantine are feeling incredibly lonely due to having to self-isolate away from friends and family however, there is a small group in society that are happy to be in doors with their family and that group is of course our pets!

It is widely known that dog owners have been keeping active by taking their four-legged companions out for walks to keep themselves fit but what benefits can our other furry friends bring us? Studies have shown that stroking and playing with your pet can increase dopamine and serotonin levels and as a result eases stress and makes us happier.

Owning a pet can also bring structure and a routine to your life and for those struggling to feel motivated to complete their own daily tasks, having a pet to care for can help bring back some levels of normality into their lives.

For many people right now having another being in their home they can spend time with and interact physically with i.e., through petting them or holding them, helps reduce the physical loneliness this second national lockdown has brought into our lives. The BBC revealed in November that 4.2 million people felt lonely almost all the time or felt lonely often since the late nights started. Being near your pets can reduce this massively.

However, some people who impulsively bought puppies and other pets at the start of the lockdowns have returned their pets to animal shelters as once they returned to work, they no longer could provide the proper care for the animal.

Pets can be anything between a one year-20 year + commitment depending on the animal you choose. Your new puppy needs to be walked daily, your new kitten needs to have the appropriate vet treatment, their sole purpose in life isn’t just to keep you company during lockdown and it is important that you consider your long-term caring abilities before you consider investing in a new companion.

My rabbit Smokey

This is Smokey. She is a grey six-and-a-half-year-old female lop eared rabbit.

She has been one of my main sources of company during the recent lockdowns. Smokey was adopted in June 2014 from a local Pets at Home store and has lived with me in my kitchen ever since. Rabbits are incredibly social animals that rely on interactions between their owner and other rabbits and when this is removed from them it can cause health issues, they’re also similar to dogs in the sense that they require lots of exercise and they can be trained to walk on a leash and can even be litterbox trained. Rabbits require regular nail trimming, need specific products bought for them to help ensure their teeth remain in a good condition to prevent both diseases and injuries, they shed between seasons, need their hutches/ cages cleaned regularly and they tend to chew. People believe they’re good starter pets as they only live for a handful of years when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Rabbits can live for up to eight to 12 years when cared for properly. If she had been adopted at the start of the pandemic by an owner that wanted an ‘easy’ to take care of short-term companion I dread to think what could have happened to her.

If you are contemplating adopting an animal to keep you company over this lockdown, please take your normal pre-covid-19 life schedule into account as well as your lockdown schedule. Educate yourself fully about the animal you intend to integrate into your life and make the right long-term decision for you and your potential new friend.

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