Companion animals have been an important source of emotional support during lockdown

Companion animals have been an important source of emotional support during lockdown

News from IMIM

A study conducted by researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and the Affinity Foundation Chair at the UAB has concluded that companion animals have been an important source of emotional support for people during confinement. This benefit was greater the more the person has suffered from the confinement.

The study also found that lockdown can have negative consequences for the animals. Specifically, dogs have shown more signs of nervousness and frustration, and may have trouble adjusting to their usual routine after confinement. Cats may have been exposed to excessive handling by the people they live with, which can lead to stress and­­ adaptation problems. In short, as people we still do not really understand the language of our animals, and we have not translated their real needs adequately.

We know that animals support people in difficult times, but this benefit has never been measured in a context where the whole population has been exposed to the same problem, on the scale of the COVID-19 epidemic. The goal was therefore to see what effect confinement had on the behaviour of companion cats and dogs and the support they provided their owners. To do this, the researchers surveyed nearly 1300 families across Spain, using a variation of a scale previously validated by another study on the link between people and animals.


The effects of the Spanish COVID-19 lockdown on people, their pets and the human-animal bond. Jonathan Bowen, Elena García, Patricia Darder, Juan Argüelles, Jaume Fatjó.

More information:
IMIM website