A new Banfield Pet Hospital survey of 1,000 people who got a dog or cat in the past two years found 76 percent say they prefer spending time with their pet over their partner, friends or family, nearly 1 in 2 – including 49 percent of men and 47 percent of women – admit they focused less on their dating life to spend time at home with their dog or cat in 2021, and 1 in 3 shortened or rescheduled their honeymoon in 2021 to spend less time away from their dog or cat.
Banfield analyzed survey findings alongside data from the practice’s proprietary pet health records database – the largest in the U.S. – to better understand how people are approaching pet ownership two years into the pandemic and what these shifts might mean for the future of pet care. It’s clear the human-animal bond has only gotten stronger, with owners more attentive to their pet’s health than ever before. 95 percent of respondents made their pet’s veterinary care a priority this year, with 44 percent admitting their cat or dog has been to more health care visits than they have in the past 12 months.
This is a big jump from the start of the pandemic, with a Banfield survey from May 2020 finding 20 percent of owners were feeling more committed to taking their pets to the veterinarian for preventive care check-ups compared to pre-pandemic. People are also finding new ways to get the answers about their questions and concerns: Banfield facilitated 320,000 chats on its telehealth service, Vet Chat, helping owners connect with a veterinarian anytime, day or night to get pet care advice and triage support from the comfort of their homes.
With people spending more quality time with their pets, owners might also be getting better at noticing when something is off. When looking at the past two years compared to pre-pandemic, Banfield’s data found a 26 percent increase in dogs diagnosed with pruritis or itchy skin – showing owners are committed to getting their pets the care they need.
“As the nation’s leading provider of preventive veterinary care, we are encouraged that pets and their people are closer than ever and that owners are increasingly finding ways to spend quality time with and ensure their pets get the care they need – whether that’s through office visits or new modes of care like telehealth,” said Molly McAllister, chief medical officer of Banfield Pet Hospital. “As the pet-owner bond continues to grow, veterinary professionals have a unique opportunity to play an even more important role in the lives of people, with the ultimate goal of helping the growing number of pets stay happy and healthy.”
Additional survey and data insights show how pets are influencing our daily lives – from finding any excuse to spend more quality time with cats and dogs (whether that means cancelling on dates or involving pets in fitness routines) to seeking more veterinary advice and consults through office visits or telehealth apps. The findings detailed below suggest we will continue to see more responsible and pet-obsessed owners going into 2022.
Affectionate and anxious pets
While some pets are loving the extra quality time together – 86 percent of owners say their pet has become more affectionate in the past 12 months – Banfield is also seeing an increase in pets showing signs of behavioral issues like anxiety.
47 percent of surveyed owners believe their pet has developed separation anxiety in the past year. Analyzing Banfield’s data, the hospital saw a 45 percent increase in dogs and a 91 percent increase in cats showing signs consistent with anxiety/fear since the start of the pandemic.
While quality time with pets is so important, Banfield veterinarians recommend owners talk with their veterinary team to address any behavioral issues and ensure pets are set up for success – so that they’re calm and content whether they’re home alone or hanging with the family. Read more here.
Swiping left to spend more time with our pets
94 percent said their pet has impacted their social life in some way, with 1 in 5 people saying they met their significant other thanks to being out and about with their pet. Maybe it’s because pets can put us at ease – Mars Petcare’s recent Keeping People and Pets Together Report found more than 6 in 10 (63 percent) would feel more comfortable at a social gathering if they were able to bring their pets.
Others prefer skipping awkward first dates in favor of nights in with their pets: around 1 in 10 admit to cancelling on a date in the past year because their pet couldn’t come along. Additional findings include:
- Nearly half of new millennial pet owners (49 percent) reconsidered who they date based on if their pet liked them (compared to 35 percent Gen Z)
- For those with wedding bells in their future: 51 percent of people (including 62 percent of Gen Zers and 49 percent of millennials) are planning to incorporate their pet in their wedding and 45 percent plan to select or change their honeymoon destination so that they can bring their pet
Fitness with fido
72 percent said their pet has helped them stay on track with their wellness goals this year. When asked how:
- 67 percent said they go on more hikes, runs or walks since getting a pet so they can include them
- 41 percent picked up running with their dog this year because it was another way to spend time together
- 62 percent said their families have been more active in general since getting a pet
- Self-care can also include rest: 89 percent found themselves reading or watching TV more in the past year so they can spend time snuggling with their pet
Home is where the pet is
80 percent of pandemic pet owners say their dog or cat has impacted their living arrangements. According to the survey:
- 25 percent say they moved in the past year to find a house or apartment that’s better suited for their pet, and 30 percent plan to move in the next year for the same reason
- 58 percent of Gen Zers and 62 percent of millennials have changed their décor or furniture arrangement to better accommodate their pet
Care from the couch
At the end of last year, Banfield predicted telehealth would play an increasingly important role this year in making preventive care accessible to more pets and promoting their health and wellbeing. According to the survey:
- 40 percent said they have used telehealth services for their pet at least once during the pandemic
- 44 percent said they have not used telehealth service for their pet but would be interested in using it if offered
- 88 percent said they’re likely to continue using telehealth services for their pet even if Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease next year
Last year, Banfield also predicted a rise in popularity of pet devices. According to the survey:
- 49 percent said they use an in-home camera to check in on their pet while away from home
- 34 percent said they use video chat technology to check in on their pet while not at home
- 49 percent said their pet wears an activity / location tracking device
Pets: bringing people together
Pet ownership isn’t always tail wags and purrs, but the human-animal bond can have positive impacts on people and communities. According to the survey, 98 percent of parents say getting a pet during the pandemic has impacted their family, with 67 percent saying their kids have learned more responsibility. Additional survey findings include:
- 56 percent say they spend more time together as a family
- 1 in 2 reveal their kids spend less time with devices, games and screens since getting a pet
- 47 percent say they have more of a social life thanks to their pet
- 63 percent believe walking their pet around the neighborhood has allowed them to get to know their neighbors better
- 40 percent are partial to their four-legged neighbors, admitting they know the names of more dogs in their neighborhoods than people