Aimed at investigating what effect confinement had on the behaviour of companion cats and dogs and the support they provided to their owners, researchers at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and the Affinity Foundation Chair at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) have surveyed nearly 1300 families across Spain. They have observed that:
- Companion animals have been an important source of emotional support for people during confinement. This benefit was greater the more the person has suffered from the confinement.
- Lockdown can have negative consequences for the animals. On the one hand, dogs have shown more signs of nervousness and frustration. Moreover, they may have trouble adjusting to their usual routine after confinement. On the other hand, cats may have been exposed to excessive handling by the people they live with, which can lead to stress and adaptation problems.
This is the first study to evaluate changes in the relationship between people and animals in the face of a drastic alteration in the surroundings.
The results suggest that more interventions are needed to promote a coexistence with animals that takes into account their nature and needs.
The next step is to compare data between countries. For the moment, the study has already been replicated in Italy and the United Kingdom and will soon be carried out in France and the United States.
Bowen, J., García, E., Darder, P., Argüelles, J., Fatjó, J., The effects of the Spanish COVID-19 lockdown on people, their pets and the human-animal bond. Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2020.05.013