Dogs and Pandemics: The Underestimated Heroes

Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic: Dogs

Probably, it would be much easier to cope with isolation, fear, and sadness caused by the pandemic if you had a loving and reliable dog by your side.
dogs and pandemicIt goes without saying for Francois Marten, who researches the bounds between people and animals. A couple of his Great Danes helped him to overcome the latest two years, and he has finished his research recently, that shows that life beside a dog gives people a feeling of social support and weakens negative psychological influence of the pandemic. “If you ask people why their dog is so important, what he does for them, they would name it a friendly companion. It is a sense of belonging to a group a part of which is a dog. This helps people to feel engaged.”- told Martin ( PhD, section leader, Behavior and Welfare Group, Nestle Purina, St. Joseph, Mo.). “If you have a dog you have to go walking, to train a dog. It gives you a sense of importance. That is so great.” – Martin added. “I have not seen anyone so happy as my dogs meeting me every day.”
His team consider the pandemic a unique possibility to understand how dogs support their owners socially. They have questioned 1500 participants dog owners or ones who planned to get a dog. Martin noted, that he did not include owners of other types of pets to the research of 2020-2021 as there are testimonies that various pets make different influence and social support to their owners.
dogs support for depressionThe researchers discovered, that the marks of depression of dog owners were much lower than of potential ones. The dog owners were also more positive for pets and spent more time with them. The two groups had no difference in the index of anxiety or happiness. “As for our intention to evaluate the influence of a dog on depression and anxiety, we saw that people who had low social support and suffered from COVID had a higher importance of a dog’s presence.”
“If everything is fine and the COVID situation does not affect you much, a dog presence will hardly make you less depressive, cause you are not depressed in fact to need a social support, unlike people who faced the problem in person…”
In his personal situation Marin had support besides the dogs, though he obviously loved their company as well, but it did not affect his mood. However, a dog could have a greater important for those who were affected by the pandemic more seriously. The research was published 15 December at the journal PLOS One.
From the words of Teri Wright (PhD, mental health therapist, private practice, Santa Ana, Calif.), home pets may supply affection, socialization, and entertainment. Though, possibly, that works right not for everyone. “People ask me a question if home pets and dogs in particular are good for depression, loneliness, and psychic disorders. My answer is that it depends on the circumstances, cause they may provide a lot of stress as well. And that depends on the person.”-told Right. Though Right has a dog at home, and a rabbit Dasty at the office, who helps her in therapeutic practice. She tells he helps her patience to relax. Stanley Coren wrote a lot about dogs and while the pandemic he spent time with his two: a New Scottish Retriever named Ranger and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Ripley. Coren is the PhD, professor emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. He did not took part in the research.


dogs best friends

He told that the difference between anxiety and depression may be the reasons that dogs had influence in one and no in another cases of the research. Coren suggested, that a person could manage his level of stress and anxiety while he was petting his dog, but just for a short period of time. “COVID causes a lot of anxiety. A dog reduces the level of social anxiety, but not the medical or financial ones.” – supposed Coren. From the testimonies of Coren dogs relieve depression for their unpretentious positive attitude.
That may be especially useful in the pandemic time for those, who has no other support. “If you live alone or you have a minimal social support, I guess, a dog will help to support your psychic health.” – told Coren.

dogs are the best friends

The researches suppose that further study is required to understand the correlation of owning pets, social support, and how it affects well-being of pet owners. “I think that if you love dogs and have a possibility to get a dog and care for it, you should get it, as dogs really support human well-being in general.” – admitted Martin.