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@ Martine Lavallée BAA, TSA

For a long time, viscerally we know that animals have beneficial effects on us humans. You just have to be at their side to feel it. But it is only since the 1950s, first in the United States, that several very serious studies attest to the soothing virtues of cat purring. Since April 2015, a Japanese study has shown that the constant look of our pets causes the secretion of oxytocin in our respective brains. This substance, commonly called the «hormone of love» is linked to happiness and social relations. It is secreted by mothers when they look at their children. So if animals do us so much good, why not get them?

Animal adoption centres like the SPCA have been verysuccessful since March of this year.Indeed, adoption may be a good idea to break the monotony if we have thought about this option beforehand. Unfortunately, to break the isolation caused by the quarantine, some people will adopt an animal on a whim during the pandemic. We know that animals have a beneficial effect on humans; it reduces anxiety and stress. Being around animals means secreting more serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, which are the drugs of happiness,' explains veterinarian and facilitator Sébastien Kfoury. Animals can be good allies to break the isolation of confinement, but this is not the time to adopt an animal on a whim. Too often we forget that a cat can live 17 or 18 years and a dog 12 or 13 years. So if we have a lot of time at home during VANOC, but forget that we will have less in a few months, it can be a problem to have an animal at home when we return to work.

Animals know that we are more present at home. Animals that were rather independent, suddenly become more «sticky». For example, cats will lie on us and purr more than they usually do. Purring and flattering a cat can lower blood pressure in a person who has significant hypertension, by tens of millimetres of mercury. It is scientifically recognized that flattering an animal or purring have a soothing effect. Just by rubbing shoulders with animals we secrete more serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, which are drugs of happiness.

However, we do not know if animals feel the same way we do. That is if they ALSO have hormones secretions of happiness by being at our side. In short, it is impossible to know precisely whether being constantly present at home with our animals, has a positive or negative impact on them. Whatever it is at the moment, animals show us contentment and appreciation. In general, they seem to have quickly adapted to their new routine imposed by our confinement.

Reaction of certain animals

Some animals have become more affectionate than ever since the beginning of confinement. Also, since we have been more present for a few weeks, our constant presence can cause our animals to be disturbed when they try to rest.

Animals always adapt their routine to ours. When we are away from home they rest and when we are present they are more active. But with our constant presence, our pets rest as needed, even if we are with them. It may be that our little dog or cat takes the opportunity to have a warm nap on our thighs instead of sleeping alone on the sofa. From our point of view, it gives the impression that they are more affectionate. 

The disadvantages
Children during this time of confinement also change the routine of our animals. With the noises they make and their sudden movements, they can annoy the cat or dog. This is the slightly more negative side of the constant presence of humans with their animals. Especially for animals a little more antisocial or older, it can be more difficult. 

To avoid this kind of thing, we must be able to recognize the signs of annoyance in our animals. A cat that is always looking to climb high or hide under the beds as well as a dog that is looking for a quiet corner in the house, are some of the signs that must be recognized. It is therefore important to give our animals moments of rest without being disturbed.

First experience
For those who have never had animals and who decide to acquire one during our time in confinement, it is strongly recommended that you thoroughly document your acquisition so that you know what to do and what not to do. 

In addition, the first year of a pet is a pivotal year in which we must be able to educate the pet as well as socialize it. In times of confinement, it is rather difficult to socialize our animal. The ideal would be to adopt an older animal. Indeed, adopting an older animal is very wise especially for a person less experienced in the education of an animal. It helps make fewer mistakes. In addition, one advantage of family confinement is that it is possible to coordinate and give a similar education to our animal.

In the evening, whether we are confined or not, animals do us good. Let us treat them with gratitude and love.

Recall also that some dogs and cats in the world caught COVID and showed symptoms of cough and abatement less severe than in humans. But it is important to note that no domestic animal with COVID passed it on to humans.

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