COVID-19 and the measures used to curb the pandemic (e.g., lockdowns, isolation) have significantly impacted mental health and well-being. This study sought to investigate the role of companion animals in alleviating stress and improving mental health during the pandemic. In this study, 250 Australian adults completed measures of well-being and life satisfaction, animal dependency, perceived emotional support from animals, and animals’ effect on mood. Employment and living with others were the strongest predictors of positive life satisfaction and well-being, while greater dependency on companion animals for emotional support and companion animals’ negative effects on mood were associated with reduced life satisfaction and well-being. Qualitative data indicated equivocal results with animals a source of both support and stress, pointing to the complex nature of human–animal relationships, particularly during times of considerable stress. These outcomes have significant implications for welfare, as animals perceived to be annoying or disruptive may be at higher risk of abuse, neglect, and behavioral surrendering.
|People and Animals: The INternational Journal of Research adn Practice
|Published - 2022