New “Pets in a Pandemic” Report Shows how Life with Pets has Changed in 2020

BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ Program Report reveals 61% of pet owners have concerns about the costs of their pet, and twenty percent have considered giving up their pets during the pandemic

FRANKLIN, Tenn.Nov. 17, 2020  — Today, Mars Petcare released the second annual BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ Program Report, entitled “Pets in a Pandemic.” The report identifies how pet ownership has evolved with the pandemic and shows that for the majority (86%), pets have been a top source of companionship this year, with 58% of new pet owners citing companionship as the main reason for getting a new pet. On the other hand, the report reveals financial hardships have taken a toll on pet owners, with nearly two-thirds reporting concern about affording basic pet costs and 13% surrendering their pet this year.

“The pandemic has affected all parts of our lives, including our family dynamics, as millions have shifted to working from home and new household routines, including our four-legged friends,” said Jam Stewart, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Mars Petcare. “Through the Pets in a Pandemic report we took an in-depth look at how the pandemic has impacted pet owners and their relationships with their pets. The report uncovered a strong current of positivity around pet ownership but also showed the challenges that many pet owners have faced throughout 2020.”

“Pets in a Pandemic” was developed using data from several first-party surveys, as well as the WISDOM PANEL™ 2020 Pet Census1. The report outlines the benefits and challenges to pet owners in 2020, what type of support pet parents need from their local government and how their attitudes about life with pets has markedly changed for the foreseeable future. Key data points within the “BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program Report: Pets in a Pandemic” include:

Benefits of Pets

Though this unprecedented year has upended daily life, many people found pet ownership and increased time with their pet to be a benefit.

  • Among all pet owners, three quarters or more said that their pets provide important benefits in the form of companionship (86%), reduced stress or anxiety (78%), reduced boredom and monotony (75%) and reduced depression (74%) during COVID-19.
  • Thirty percent of pet owners welcomed a new pet this year, with more than half doing so for companionship (58%).
  • Half of the survey respondents reported spending more time with pets as the primary benefit of working from home – even ahead of increased flexibility (46%), cost savings from lack of commute (47%) and more time with family (36%).

Financial Burdens

Many pet owners have faced financial challenges throughout the pandemic, leading to difficult decisions.

  • Sixty-one percent of pet owners felt concern about their financial ability to pay for their pets’ expenses.
  • Twenty percent of pet owners have considered giving up their pets in 2020, and 13% actually did.
  • Of pet parents who considered giving up a pet during the pandemic, 31% said access to pet-friendly housing resources would have been helpful, while 32% said short-term financial help and 30% said more access to pet services or support would have been helpful.
  • City officials acknowledged their communities’ difficulties in recent months. One in three city officials have heard concerns from residents about the financial challenges of pet care and the potential need to re-home a pet.
  • Sixty-four percent of city officials favor providing assistance to pet owners due to the pandemic.

Work-from-Home Environment

As more people have grown accustomed to working remotely alongside their pets, many are fearful about the realities of returning to the workplace and leaving their pets behind.

  • Seventy-eight percent of working pet owners expressed concern over their pets’ anxiety and/or confusion when they return to a normal work schedule.
  • Similarly, 75% of working pet owners have expressed concern about their personal anxiety if they have to return to work without their pet.
  • Two-thirds of working pet owners who are spending more time at home today would like the ability to take their pets to work, and another two thirds would be likely to do so if allowed.

Leisure Activities

As we look to 2021 and beyond, people are expressing a desire to bring their pets with them and finding reprieve in having them present outside of the home.

  • Fifty percent of pet owners would be comfortable bringing pets to outdoor stores, events and patio seating at restaurants. Similarly, 50% of dog owners said they’d be more comfortable in these same spaces if they could bring their pet.
  • Nearly two in three pet owners say they’re likely to travel again in 2021, and about 60% of pet owners want to bring their pets along when they travel.

These insights all point to a critical need for more individual assistance and pet-friendly accommodations, as pets have become even more integrated into peoples’ lives. Looking ahead, pet owners are hopeful to have their companions at their sides when it comes to their daily routines, traveling, the workplace and visiting community spaces.

infographic of key results from report

Report Methodology:
The “BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program Report: Pets in a Pandemic” leveraged data and insights from pet owners and city officials across the country. This year, the report’s results focused heavily on living with pets in a pandemic, revealing the reliance and comfort we seek from pets during difficult times and how our communities are adapting to accommodate them.

To view the full “BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program Report: Pets in a Pandemic,” please visit www.BetterCitiesForPets.com/PetsInAPandemic and visit BetterCitiesForPets.com for more information and resources about building more pet-friendly communities.

About BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ 
The BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program was created by Mars Petcare US, the world’s leading pet nutrition and health care business, to help communities become more pet-friendly by bringing the voice of pets and their owners to places of influence and advocating for fewer pets in shelters, more pet-friendly places, and happier, healthier lives for both people and pets. Mars Petcare works with key partners, businesses and local governments to better understand how to improve communities by: providing safe and welcoming shelters that lead to forever homes; encouraging pet-friendly, responsible homes for pets; welcoming more pets into local businesses, and giving pets plenty of park space to play. In 2019 the company launched the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program certification which recognizes and celebrates cities that are putting programs and policies into place to make life better for people and pets. For more information about the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS program and the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS Program certification, visit BetterCitiesForPets.com.

About Mars Petcare 
Part of Mars, Incorporated, a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services for people and the pets people love, the 85,000 Associates across 50+ countries in Mars Petcare are dedicated to one purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS™. With 85 years of experience, our portfolio of almost 50 brands serves the health and nutrition needs of the world’s pets – including brands PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, ROYAL CANIN®, NUTRO™, GREENIES™, SHEBA®, CESAR®, IAMS™ and EUKANUBA™ as well as the Waltham Petcare Science Institute which has advanced research in the nutrition and health of pets for over 50 years. Mars Petcare is also a leading veterinary health provider through an international network of over 2,000 pet hospitals and diagnostic services including BANFIELD™, BLUEPEARL™, VCA™, LinnaeusAniCura and Antech. We’re also active in innovation and technology for pets, with WISDOM PANEL™ genetic health screening and DNA testing for dogs, the WHISTLE™ GPS dog tracker, and LEAP VENTURE STUDIO accelerator and COMPANION FUND programs that drive innovation and disruption in the pet care industry. As a family business and guided by our principles, we are privileged with the flexibility to fight for what we believe in – and we choose to fight for: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.

1 KRC Research conducted an online survey of 1,001 U.S. pet owners and 31 American city officials between September 9-25, 2020. The report also includes WISDOM PANEL™ 2020 Pet Census data, which surveyed more than 13,000 U.S. pet owners from June through August 2020. See details for the above at BetterCitiesForPets.com.

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