The Covid Era has affected many aspects of life, one of which has been the growth in the pet industry, which grew handsomely as compared to most of the other sectors, write Dr A.K.Wankar & Sakshi Kashikar
Yes, it appears, we will survive the COVID -19 pandemic, but the world shall never be the same again. We saw what a virus (SARC-COV ) can do to mankind on a global scale. All the world superpowers, developed and developing nations were impacted drastically in the year 2020, when nobody had a clue how to resolve the COVID -19 problem. The year was marked by stringent lockdowns, quarantines, curfews, restrictions, social distancing, work from home and total containment etc. In the following year, i.e., 2021, we gathered up in a wave of new viral strains and there were mass vaccination, less stringent restrictions and lockdowns.
The COVID era led to the emergence of some exclusive snags like stress, social isolation, boredom, anxiety, emotional and psychological disturbances, when we were forced to live at home, work from home and survive at home . This gave a new opportunity and forced humans for the first time, to retrospect deeply, about their lives, relationships, lifestyles, health and emotional well-being. We rediscovered the joy, love and pleasure with our kin and animal companions, which was and will always be essential for human physical, psychological and emotional well-being.
The well-known fact “loving animals makes humans more human”, was again strengthened during the pandemic.
Association with companion animals improves and enhances love, trust, respect, compassion, empathy, social relationships, physical activity, health, emotional support, self-efficacy, psychological well-being, positive emotions and reduces mental loneliness, stress levels and also post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) in humans . The bonding with our pets is extended further, when they become our family members, leading to a dramatic increase in the pet adoptions, caretaking and companionship during the testing times and finally the concept of One-Health: One-Welfare was evident.
Mankind has seen some downturns in the past, like global recessions in the years 2001, 2008 and now the recent viral outbreak. It is very interesting to note that during these events there has been a corresponding increase not
only for dogs and cats, but also for herbivores, birds, fishes and exotic pets. All over the world, we observed an inverse relationship between recession and increase in pet numbers. In America, more than 75% pet owners ascertained positive improvement in their mental well-being and health during the COVID -19 pandemic, attributed to their bonding with their pets (source: American Pet Product Association). Similar benefits were also confirmed by the European and Asian contemporaries indicating that bonding with animals improves human response to handle stress, emotions and loneliness in a much better manner .
Collectively, all these factors contributed a significant boom to the global pet enterprise, and despite the pandemic it grew handsomely as compared to most of the other sectors. During the last two years, both animal adoption and fostering skyrocketed, especially in the developed nations, although this might be temporary, and
after the COVID -19 is over, we once again might see a slight drop in this trend . But currently, the global market is roughly at $190 billion, with an expected growth rate of 5% by the year 2023 i.e., $ 281 billion. Similar to America, European nations like Germany, United Kingdom, France and Asian countries like China and India, show a positive growth trend for the pet sector by the year 2025 (for China the estimated growth rate is 14%) .
The emergence of the pet sector, has also led to surfacing of specific sub-sectors and speciality services like online and offline delivery of pet food and meals, toys, accessories, apps, pet hospitality, veterinary services, pet behaviourists, nutritionists, consultants, trainers, pet communicators, breeders, dog walkers, groomers, handlers, animal shelters, foster homes, digital pet care platforms etc. Some of these current micro-businesses have outperformed the mainstream giants and delivered a 300% turnover during the pandemic period.
The Indian context
In India also the pet market is growing and blooming with a compounded projected growth rate at 13.5% during the years 2021-2026 respectively. The coming of pets as family members, rapid humanisation, modernisation and growing awareness among the masses concerning health, peace and mental wellbeing has led to a flourishing pet sector in India, which seems on an upward trend, in the coming times.
The COVID -19 educated us how vulnerable and unprepared we all are despite our technological advances. It also taught us the value of love, support and companionship, especially from our pets who gave us their unconditional love, when needed most. We as humans have the ability to change and see what’s good for our welfare. This pandemic revealed that kinship and our animal friends are the pillars of our physical and emotional health. In the future, the pet industry will emerge as a $billion industries performing outstandingly, as the growth of our companion animals will be parallel to the human population.
References: On request to the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr A. K. Wankar is Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Physiology, and Sakshi Kashikar is a DVM / BVS c & AH Student, College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences , Parbhani.