Animals as Comfort

The details are a little fuzzy, if you’ll pardon the furry pun, but one of the latest impacts of the coronavirus pandemic is being demonstrated through our pets.

We are spending more time at home and looking for additional ways to combat boredom, have fun, and even relieve stress—this is where animals come into the picture. Studies show that simply watching a funny video of animals can temporarily lighten our mood, and interacting with them can have even longer-lasting effects on our wellbeing. This emotional value of interacting with pets and animals, in general, is leading to new products, entertainment options, and services.

Growing numbers of people working from home, or with flexible schedules, is leading to an increase in pet adoptions. For some, the goal is companionship, to fight loneliness during quarantine and stay-at-home orders. Others may be looking for a new member for the family to enjoy and interact with. In addition to finding new ways to entertain ourselves outside of remote work and school, pets fall next in line for our attention and care. All these adoptions are, of course, good for the pet care business, including retail, veterinary services, and even llama farms…but we’ll get to that subject later.

Adoption increases are driving sales, both online and in-person, for all things pet-related. Going beyond simply wanting to provide for and even spoil new pets, consumers are seeking solutions to occupy their companions while their humans attend to remote work, school, and general upkeep. This is in response to routine changes that affect every member of the household, even the dog. Health concerns, such as separation anxiety and boredom, can lead to unwanted behavior from pets, and consumers want products that can actively address these problems. This is where we are seeing innovative new items, such as puzzle toys, that cater to maximizing our one-on-one pet time by keeping pets mentally stimulated. Think of these as a fidget spinner for Fido, in a chewable format.

For those who want to enjoy animal companionship, without added responsibilities, there’s always watching funny animal videos—which research indicates are good for you. Thankfully, Amazon’s dog-centric show The Pack is launching a 24-hour puppy livestream to create hype for its upcoming season. Viewers can access the stream on YouTube, and Twitch.

If observing animals is good for us, then animal Zoom calls must also be therapeutic on some level—imagine your Monday morning meeting, but with a random llama appearance. This might sound like a joke, but Sweet Farm in California is providing just that. Farms such as this are offering animal video calls as a way to boost earnings during a lockdown. Adding an appearance from a farm animal is certainly one way to spice up a Zoom party or holiday video call to grandma and grandpa.

Whether it’s walking a dog, enjoying a half hour of cute animals, or sneaking a surprise farm guest into your next Zoom, using animals as a means of comfort is growing. And, with all of the changes this year, people are absolutely seeking something that can create a feeling of comfort. This need for stress relief, companionship, and entertainment is bringing us closer to the natural world as a form of escapism, exercise, and fun.