The loss of daily routines and the threat of illness and casualties from COVID-19 have put a serious emotional strain on everyone. So it comes as no surprise to see social media feeds flooded with adorable photos and videos of dogs, cats, birds and other pets offering companionship during this season of social distancing and self-isolation.

Pets are helping people cope with the pandemic. From cats walking over keyboards to dogs hunkering down houses, more animals are amusing people while they stay at home. Even celebrities are joining the pet craze –Arnold Schwarzenegger delivering a stay-at-home PSA with his miniature horse and pet donkey and Anthony Hopkins singing to his cat.

Some people may be hesitant to get a pet and the reasons are valid. They don’t have the time and commitment to care for a pet. Others have attachment issues. There are other people who don’t have the time to invest in other pet must-haves like doctor visits, toys or even dog obedience training.

But the rewards of owning a pet (and being loved by one) outweigh the cost, especially during a time of self-isolation, COVID anxiety and more. So there’s no question that pets saved our lives during this pandemic.

How Pets Improved Life During the Pandemic

When faced with the challenges of diseases, social isolation and job loss, pet owners are turning to their animal friends for more than improved vitals and companionship. Many people are finding that their pets can help them cope with depression and anxiety, as well as give them hope.

Here are the common ways people turn to their pets, no matter what their species is, during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Talking to them. Believe it or not, many pets can sense your emotions. They know when you are sad or stressed. The best part is they are great listeners. They will listen to you without offering unsolicited advice, which is great if you just want to express your thoughts out loud or trying to sort through your troubling thoughts.
  2. Find humor in your pets. Pets are effortlessly funny. Whether they are hiding their toys, chasing their tail or falling off their wheels, pets are good for a laugh or the occasional chuckle. Laughing is one of the best ways to relieve your stress.
  3. Take them out for a walk. Whether on a leash, on your shoulder or in a stroller, some pets are more than happy to join your walk, which is one of the best ways to get some exercise and sunlight. Plus, going out relieves your stress, especially when you breathe in some fresh air.
  4. Snuggle with your pet. Due to social distancing measures, physical contact with other humans is discouraged. But the same isn’t true for your pets. You can hug them and even cuddle with them while you watch mind-bending movies on Netflix. Hugging your pet reduces stress, makes you feel great and releases happy hormones. It can also help you ease tension, relieve physical pain and relax.
  5. Share the joys with others. Recently, social media platforms are riddled with sobering updates about deaths and illnesses. A photo of your cuddly pet can bring joy to people, preventing them from doomscrolling.

Hygiene Still Matters

While enjoying time with your pets due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders is fun, it’s important to stay clean and healthy. As always, use a hand sanitizer and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you follow these hygiene tips so that you and your pet will stay healthy and happy:

  1. Keep your pets and their supplies out of the kitchen.
  2. Remove pet poop from your garden and other public spaces by picking it up with a plastic bag and disposing of it properly.
  3. Always clean and disinfect your pet’s toys, beds and houses.
  4. Keep kids away from areas that may contain pet pop.

Practice Extra Care for Your Pets, Too

While health professional says you can’t transmit COVID-19 to your pets, you should still practice extra care during the pandemic. Similar to you and your family, your pets should also practice social distancing. Don’t let them come in contact with other pets or have other people touch them for now. If you’re sick or may have been diagnosed with COVID-19, refrain from touching your pets. Instead, have someone else care and feed your pet.

Pets are lifesavers during a time of self-isolation and social distancing. So if you’re looking for companionship, it’s time to adopt a pet.