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TDK conference 2022

Behavioral changes in companion animals due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Buró Blanka Sára - year 4
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Veterinary Forensics, Law and Economics
Supervisor: Dr. Ágnes Sátori


Nowadays, the number of companion animals found in a household is constantly increasing. Owners often see these pets as members of the family. They are expected to be constantly available, to provide mental, emotional-and physical support and to show appropriate behavior. In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic also appeared in Hungary, which required the introduction of quarantine, which led to large-scale changes in the everyday lives of people and the animals around them.

In this paper we research the changes in these pets behavior and their impact according their owners answers during and after the pandemic. Before the research work, we tried to understand the problems by reviewing the already existing hungarian and foreign literature, and later we found similarities, differences and additions. We used two different questionnaires for the survey, which owners could access and fill out online for 1.5 months. We obtained data from a total of 574 participants, the majority of them were women and the average age was 30-35 years. Out of these data, 306 keep a dog, 211 a cat, and others own exotic animals, such as 23 ferrets and 12 rabbits as companions. Based on the obtained data, it can be said that the number of those whose relationship with their pets worsened during the quarantine period is small, but it can be also concluded that those who were at home more, gave more attention to their pets, and made their relationship better with them. Most of the animals adopted during the pandemic came from breeders in advance, while a smaller number were adopted from friends, with the use of Internet, or shelters. Questions focused on which worries about pets appeared most in the owners’ thinking. They are worried about the animals’ health after the pandemic has passed, but access to veterinary care and medicines also cause some worries. Based on the responses that were received, an increase in attention-seeking behavior or territorial barking can also be observed in Hungary, as well as behavioral problems that were not detected by foreign research, such as the number of requests to enter the house during the quarantine period. The rate of vocalization for food and attention also increased during the pandemic.

Based on the results, the quarantine caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was serious not only for people, but also for their pets, some of which may remain with some behavioral problems even after it has ended. Deeper knowledge of these data is important for dealing with possible problems and preventing similar situations that may occur in the future.

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