People attached to their pets more likely to be lonely during lockdown, study finds

People who are strongly attached to their pets were more likely to suffer mental health problems during the Covid-19 lockdown than those who are less attached, new research from Queen’s University Belfast has revealed.

Researchers from the School of Psychology at Queen’s surveyed 143 pet owners and 103 people who did not own pets, to explore whether animals helped to reduce depression, stress and feelings of isolation during lockdown.

Of the pet owners, 62 per cent owned dogs and 28 per cent owned cats. They completed the 23 item Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, which is commonly used to measure the bond between humans and animals. The experts found that pets did not improve the mental health of owners in lockdown, although dog owners were more attached to their pets than cat owners.