Apollo, two years old, waits patiently for his homemade treat.

As more and more folks confess to mounting “reentry anxiety” with summer on its way and life gradually teetering back towards “normal,” humans are not the only species to experience this radical shift in reality: our equally homebound pets will undergo it, too. As pandemic restrictions ebb and more and more folks get vaccinated, we are together creating a new world and with it, new relationships with our furry family…for better or for worse.

The approaching reentry to the regular workforce has many pet lovers concerned. Nearly 80% of responders to a Banfield Pet Hospital survey claimed they are worried about this transition for pets who have acclimated to more time with their humans, a reasonable concern considering 44% of those polled said they felt they have become more responsible and attentive towards their pet since the lockdown. With a 10% increase in sales across all categories of pet supplies, pet industry sales in 2020 surpassed $100 billion for the first time, with $42 billion going to food and treats alone. Happily, many shelter and rescue organizations reported unprecedented interest in dog and cat adoption since the outbreak of the pandemic, with some shelters like the Pasadena Humane Society reporting that every one of their 124 cats and dogs had been adopted with over one thousand hopeful parents-to-be expressing interest.

But edible goods are far from the only expenditure responsible pet owners invest in to insure the well-being of their pets. Grooming, walking, and boarding remain key to canine health; and while some dogs can go months between trims, it is best to bathe and brush them more frequently than that. While many groomers closed their doors at least temporarily during the beginning of the pandemic, larger corporations like Petco remained open for business throughout. Due to the intimacy of the exchange of hands for a leash transfer, however, many folks opted to wash their four-legged friends at home rather than chance exposure, providing excellent bonding time for animal and human alike.

Physical needs met, pets have been perceived as “happier” and “more playful” by approximately one-third of pet owners, and nearly 50% of those polled revealed they found significant emotional support in their pet during quarantine. Many reported walking their pets more and generally providing more attention to their “fur babies,” some even playfully suggesting that their pets make better coworkers.

As more folks turn back towards the workforce and leave their homes to do so, this change may be reflected in the relationship we have with our animal family members.

How To Ease The Transition For Your Pet

There are a few ways we can make the transition less stressful for our pets, who may have come to rely on their owners being home the majority of the time.

  1. Get up earlier. While this might not be everybody’s favorite option, it is guaranteed time to spend with your pet. Buy them reflective gear and take them for a walk. Imagine how much more exciting the world is to your pooch in the darker early hours, with new “pee-mail” to sniff. Bonus: exercise for you!
  2. Talk to your pet when you are home. This not only adds a new dimension to your relationship, but studies also suggest that talking to your pet may be good for your mental health. We’re pretty sure they don’t mind it, too, plus they make excellent listeners.
  3. Come home on your lunch break, if you can. Make yourself a healthy lunch and spend a few minutes with your house-bound beast. If you must keep working, consider attending meetings via Zoom (all too acceptable these days) or answering a phone call on the go.
  4. Take a few days–even one–out of the week to work from home. Tell your boss that working from home is proven to be more productive and you just might get away with it.
  5. Consider taking your pet to work with you. There are some things to consider when you bring your pet to work; namely, you need express permission, a well-behaved animal, consideration for others’ allergies and welfare, potty breaks for your pooch, and safety at the forefront of your mind. Snacks and toys make going to work more fun, too!
Gus and Apollo get along famously in the car.

Whatever your work status, if you own a pet of any kind, the time has come to keep up the momentum with the good parenting. Our pets need us now more than ever and, after the last year and some change, we’ve discovered just how much we need them.