Companion Animal Relationships and Adolescent Loneliness during COVID-19
Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA
Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA
Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA 02481, USA
Lynch Research Associates, Natick, MA 01760, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mark J. Farnworth
Received: 11 February 2021 / Revised: 13 March 2021 / Accepted: 16 March 2021 / Published: 19 March 2021
This study assessed the relationship between pet ownership, pet attachment, loneliness, and coping with stress before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrary to our hypotheses, results did not support the presence of a buffering effect of pet ownership on loneliness, with pet ownership predicting increases in loneliness from pre-pandemic to during the pandemic. Dog owners showed lower levels of loneliness prior to the pandemic as well as higher levels of attachment, suggesting possible species-level differences in these relationships. Pet owners also reported spending time with their pet as a highly used strategy for coping with stress, suggesting that future research should explore the role of pets in coping with stress and social isolation during the pandemic. These results indicate that the relationship between pet ownership and adolescent loneliness during the pandemic is complex and warrants further research.