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Study: 95% of British people say their dog’s presence helped them overcome the lockdown

Author: The DogsPlanet.com Team

Summary of our study

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the greatest health crises of the 21st century, with many economic and social consequences. Since 4 January, the British population has been confined in order to reduce the spread of the virus and risk of infection.

The daily life of the British has significantly changed and many dog owners have had to adopt new habits to adapt to the new lockdown measures.

In this study, we wanted to analyse the changes in dog habits (food, entertainment, walks, behaviour) and the impact on their daily life (as well as their owners).

The following is a summary of the key findings from our survey study. This was based on responses from 1082 British dog owners.

  1. 95% of British people say that the presence of their dog(s) helped them overcome this quarantine. The dog was therefore a very good psychological support during this period of lockdown.
  2. 73% of the dogs did not behave more affectionately or playfully during the lockdown. However, 37% of the dogs have experienced stress since the beginning of the lockdown and 4% are still stressed.
  3. 57% of British dog owners order dog products online and 56% of them do it more often than before.
  4. Among the 43% who did not order products online before the lockdown, 40% have started to do so. So we see a slight “boom” in online pet stores.
  5. The lockdown did not affect dog owners’ appointments at the vet, with only 17% that had to cancel or reschedule and 48% that were still able to go.

Study design

1082 adult British residents and dog owners responded to our online survey conducted during 11 consecutive days of the COVID-19 lockdown (from 27 February to 9 March). To reach the respondents, we used our Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as those of partners.

The study began by asking the respondent his region of residence and type of housing (flat or house, with or without garden).

The survey was then divided into 4 categories:

  1. Dog’s behaviour
  2. Dog’s nutrition
  3. Online products
  4. Appointment at the vet

Results of the study

Profile of respondents

The percentage of respondents is well distributed throughout the United Kingdom. South East is the region with the most respondents (14%), followed by the North West (13%) and the South West and Scotland (11% each).

Percentage of respondents by region

Of the 1082 responses, 89% said they live in a house, while 11% in a flat.

Then, 91% said they had a private garden, 6% a communal garden, and 3% no garden.

1- Dog behaviour and health benefits for the owner

A dog is an animal known for its ability to help its owners psychologically. Living under a lockdown is a situation that can cause anxiety and frustration, therefore, we asked respondents whether the presence of their dog was beneficial to them.

95% of respondents said that the presence of their dog helped them cope with the lockdown.

We then wanted to know whether, since the beginning of the lockdown, the respondent’s dog was more affectionate or playful than usual.

We see on the graphs above that 24% and 19% of the respondents answered that their dog was more affectionate and playful than before.

Then, we wanted to know if the dog had been stressed by the lockdown. We see that 54% of the respondents said that they did not see any change in their dog.

However, a third of the respondents stated that their dog had been stressed at first but got used to it. Therefore, lockdown had an impact on certain dogs and they felt a change in their rhythm of life. We analysed these results to see if there was a relationship between dog stress and the type of housing (apartment or house) or the presence of a garden, and it turns out that people that live in a flat and/or do not have a garden observed higher levels of stress in their dog.

Finally, a smaller proportion (4%) said that their dog was more stressed and did not get used to the lockdown.

2- The dog’s diet

In the second part of the survey, we looked at the dog’s diet. Is it possible that it had changed since the beginning of the lockdown?

Thus, respondents were first asked what type of food their dogs were eating before lockdown began.

We see that nearly half of the respondents (49%) gave kibble/dry food to their dogs, and another large proportion (27%) offered semi-moist and canned food.

We then asked them if their pet’s diet had changed since 4 January.

Although 92% said no, 8% said they modified their dog’s diet since the start of lockdown.

We looked into the 8% by asking them what type of diet their dogs were now following. As you can see on the graph above, semi-moist and kibble diets still dominate (26% and 25% respectively) but home-cooked food gained 11 points (17%) and canned food, 7 points (20%).

3- Ordering products online

The third part of this survey focused on online ordering of products.

First of all, we asked respondents whether, under normal circumstances (before the lockdown), they would order the products for their dogs online.

The result is interesting: a small majority answered yes to our question. This shows us that dog owners are divided between buying in real shops and ordering online.

We then asked whether all the people who answered “Yes” to the previous question had increased their frequency of ordering products online.

We see in the graph above that 56% of them responded that they ordered more often, while 44% did not order more frequently online products for their dog.

Then, of the people who answered “No” to the first question, 40% said they started ordering products online since the start of lockdown. This shows that there has been a slight increase in the online pet stores industry.

4- Appointment at the vet

Finally, we wanted to know how this lockdown affected dog owners’ appointments at the vet.

Only 17% of dog owners had to reschedule or cancel a visit to the vet. 48% were still able to go and 35% had no scheduled visits. Therefore, we can’t say that the lockdown had a real impact on dog owners’ appointments at the vet.

Conclusion

Through this study and the analysis of its results, we can see that dogs do not seem to have drastically changed their behaviour. However, they have been great psychological supports for their owners.

We also see that most respondents generally maintained their buying habits for dog products but there has been a slight increase in the online retail sector.

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