In the chaos of the pandemic in the last year, many people made impulsive decisions to add a pet to their family. Now that they have had time to think about it, some of these new pet parents wish they hadn't. Pet regret is rampant among pet owners who bought a pet during the pandemic crisis without fully thinking through their decision. Here's what to do if you are a pet parent suffering from post-pandemic pet depression.

Woman holds her Goldendoodle.

What is pet regret?

Pet regret, or post-pandemic pet depression (PPD), is the sense of guilt for buying a pet during the pandemic crisis without carefully thinking through the decision. During the COVID-19 shutdown, many families found themselves stuck at home, trying to cope with a radically changed world. To cope with the newfound stress and anxiety, many families made the decision to adopt or purchase a dog or cat. At first, raising a new kitten or puppy or helping an older pet adjust to a new living arrangement was manageable. However, now that parts of the country are returning to some semblance of normality, many new pet parents are finding that it's difficult to keep up with giving their pets enough attention and cleaning up after them.

In a recent survey, pet products company Innovet found that over 1 in 3 Americans regret their pandemic pet adoption. The survey also revealed that 21% of people became pet parents because of the influence of seeing other people's pets on social media. Additionally, roughly 53% of pandemic pet parents did zero research before adding a pet to their family. Sadly, animal shelters and rescues report an overwhelming amount of pandemic pets are brought through their doors every day. Most pet parents state that they don't have the time for the pet or can't handle the pet anymore.

Unfortunately, bouncing from a home to a shelter is upsetting for a pet who doesn't understand what it's done wrong or why its new family is giving them up. After all, they depended on you to care for them, and now they are in a strange place with other animals, confused and depressed. HumanePro points out that pets in shelters and rescues often suffer from emotional trauma, frustration, and fear. Emotional stressors and depression also lower a pet's immune system, making them more susceptible to illness.

If you are a pet parent who feels overwhelmed and unable to care for your new pet, stay calm and take a deep breath. Before you decide to take your pet to a shelter, consider these solutions to resolve your pet regret and make your pet a permanent member of your family.

Behavioral training

The main frustrations when training a pet, especially a young one, is dealing with house training issues, frequent barking, and lack of socialization with other people and animals. Behavioral training can make a significant difference in your relationship with your pet. If you live in an area where facilities are open, contact a local dog training group to get information on how to sign your pup up for some lessons in manners. There are also many dog trainers that will come to your home on your schedule to work with you and your pup. If you can't afford a trainer, there are plenty of apps that show you how to train your pet and walk you through the process. Check out apps like Puppr and GoodPup that have easy-to-follow platforms, live 1-on-1 training, and excellent online communities to give you support and encouragement.

Two Border collies at a dog day care center.

Doggie Day Care, Dog Walkers, and Laser Toys

Do you feel like you can't give your dog or cat the attention and the exercise they need? There are other outlets to explore so your pet can get the exercise and socialization they need while you are at work. Doggie day care is an excellent option for keeping your dog happy, and more importantly, tired!

Dogs often act out of boredom and frustration because they aren't getting enough exercise to burn that excess energy, so it has to go somewhere. Doggie day care does double duty: it helps your dog learn to interact appropriately with other dogs and you will pick up one exhausted pup at the end of the day. A tired dog is a happy dog, and that means you're a happy pet parent, too.

Are you too nervous to leave your dog at a day care? Then think about hiring a dog walker to visit your home once or twice a day. While you are at work or running errands, the dog walker can keep your dog busy exploring the neighborhood and burning lots of energy.

How does this work with cats? If you don't have enough time to play with your cat every day, purchase an automatic toy laser which you can set on a timer. These relatively inexpensive toys are available online and in pet stores. This toy is one that will keep your cat engaged and literally jumping off the ground to catch the laser light.

Create an old-fashioned schedule

It may not be fancy, but if created thoughtfully and carefully, a schedule can bring peace and balance to your pet's life. Our pets thrive on consistency, much like many humans do. Balancing home, work, school, and family responsibilities is a challenge enough, so how can you manage to care for your pet amongst all these other duties?

Create a schedule that includes your pet's daily care. If you live alone, choose to get up a littler earlier in the morning to take your dog for a walk or give your cat some scratches and love. For families, delegate pet responsibilities to each member throughout the week. That way, pet care doesn't become one family member's job, which can quickly lead to burnout and additional stress.

Cat plays with her pet parent.

What if you decide to give up your pet?

Sometimes life circumstances make caring for a pet impossible. If you choose to surrender your pet, make sure to do some research on local rescues and shelters in your town. Contact the Animal Humane Society's Pet Helpline for advice and guidance. Surrender  your pet only to reputable facilities, and call the rescue to talk with the caretakers about your situation. They will be understanding and give you the information you need to make your decision.

Never give your pet away to a stranger online and especially not for free. Sadly, too many animals are taken advantage of in those situations and may be abused or used as bait for dog fighting rings.

Explore every option before making a decision.

Even if you are suffering from pet regret your pet's wellbeing is still your responsibility. You aren't alone in this situation, and there are many people, such as veterinarians, online pet forums, or family and friends who can help you work through your troubles so you can make the best decision for your pet.

The best way to care for your pet is to get her a pet insurance policy. At Pet Insurance Review, you can compare prices and set up custom pet insurance plans based on your needs. Get a quote today to get started!

 

References:

1. Krieger, L. (2021). The Pandemic Puppy Boom And The Regret That Followed. Retrieved from https://www.romper.com/life/pandemic-puppy-pet-boom-and-regret

2. Innovet Pet. (2021). Dog Adoption Pandemic: Pet Regret. Retrieved from https://www.innovetpet.com/pages/dog-adoption-pandemic

3. Erskine, E. (2021). Shelters Report People Returning Covid Pets. Retrieved from https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/shelters-report-people-returning-covid-pets/

4. Animal Humane Society. (2021). Surrendering a pet. Retrieved from https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/surrender/surrendering-pet