Life can be lonely for pets who are stuck at home whilst their owners are out at work.

But dogs and other pets could be about to enjoy a very long time in the company of humans.

People around the world are now working from home in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, meaning their pets won't have to sit in the house by themselves all day.  

There is evidence that pets suffer from the effects of isolation, with dogs particularly at risk of loneliness.  

Humans might be feeling very nervous about the pandemic, which has now killed three people in Scotland and more than 10,00 worldwide. 

Pets, however, are having the time of their lives.

Animal lovers around the world are sharing pictures of their pets on social media and reflecting on how happy they seem.  

The Herald: Baby the Dog is very happy right now (Image: RSPCA)Baby the Dog is very happy right now (Image: RSPCA)


Professor Ian Ramsey, professor of small animal medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: "I'm sad to say this, but the coronavirus has been quite a nice thing for dogs because it keeps owners at home.

"Dogs are pack animals and feel happier surrounded by their pack - which can mean humans. Leaving a dog alone in a house is not a good idea.

"Cats are different. They tend to form communities rather than packs. They are more tolerant, as it were, of being on their own for a while."

He also said dogs should only be left in the house without company for four hours at a time.

Many cats "aren't bothered" about being left alone but dogs can suffer badly, confirmed Mike Flynn, chief superintendent of the Scottish SPCA.

He said: "It's good for pets to have some company at home - and it's good for people to have some companionship. 

"When we are looking to give an animal a new home, we are always concerned about how long its owner is going to be at the office rather than in the house. 

"We encourage people in full-time employment not to take animals because they can suffer from loneliness."

 This accounts for most of the complaints received by the Scottish SPCA, Mr Flynn told us, because lonely dogs often spend all day barking or causing some other nuisance which annoys the neighbours. 

The Herald: Harris the miniature schnauzerHarris the miniature schnauzer

We spoke to pet-owners to see how their dogs were getting on during the coronavirus crisis.

Laura Connell from Cowglen, Glasgow, said: "My puppy Harris who is just over one year old is loving us being at home.

"He is exhausted come 7pm, right enough, because he’s getting to play in the garden all day and run along the fence with the dog next door."

"He usually gets walked during the day by my dad who comes over and takes him out. However, he will usually spend most of the day sleeping.

"Now he just wants to play all day.

"I have set up a home office in the kitchen and he hangs around me – bringing me his ball to throw, pawing at the door to get out in the garden or barking while I’m on Microsoft calls with my team.

"It’s great for us as well because it means we’re sure to get out the house four times a day for walks to get fresh air which has been really beneficial for both morale and productivity."

The Herald: Betty has been working alongside her owner, AlexaBetty has been working alongside her owner, Alexa

Alexa Cobbold, a PR account manager from Leeds, is also working away from the office.

She said: "I’m now working from home for the foreseeable future and I could not be more grateful to have my dog, Betty the Boston Terrier, at home with me. 

"She ensures I get out and about walking every morning and lunchtime, and is more than happy to sit on my knee, providing no end of entertainment during video calls with colleagues and clients alike.

"She is very good for my mental health whilst at home too, as I am a very sociable person.

"She’s definitely happier, giddier and very chatty at the moment too. Especially as we spend a good hour outside at lunch now too.

"It’s perfect for her. She’s a lazy pup and it means she gets to nap a fair bit of the day away, which is her absolute dream."

The RSPCA recently ran a campaign called #DogKind which found that 8 out of 10 dogs "find it hard to cope when left alone" and warned that it's hard to spot the signs of a lonely dog.  

Some pets will bark or destroy things to express their sadness while others will "simply sit there quietly, feeling worried".

Having a companion during the pandemic is likely to significantly boost the mood of isolated dogs - but it also cheers up human owners.

The Herald: Luna the Rabbit (Image: RSPCA)Luna the Rabbit (Image: RSPCA)

Dr Julia Wrathall, chief scientific officer at the RSPCA, told The Herald: “Animals can make wonderful companions for those who find themselves alone. As well as providing vital companionship to people, there are also a number of other benefits to owning a pet.

"Evidence suggests that when we stroke animals - or in the case of dogs, when we just look into their eyes - our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that brings about bonding between individuals as well as helping us feel more optimistic and lowering blood pressure.

“Owning a dog also makes people less vulnerable to the physical effects of stress and can encourage people to get out and about for exercise and can also help initiate interaction with other pet owners.”

There are steps you can take to make sure your pet gets the most out of your company, 

Naomi Wainwright from the website Groomers offered us the following advice: "Now that pet owners will be spending more time indoors, and with reduced opportunities to get to the park, it is a great time to consider alternative ways to exercise your dog physically and mentally."

She advised dog owners to train their animals, play fetch in the park or garden and give them "special toys with treats hidden inside to encourage problem-solving skills".

The Herald: Mika the Cat (Image: RSPCA)Mika the Cat (Image: RSPCA)

Dog-owners should be on the lookout for "excessive vocalisation, unusual behaviours such as destructiveness or unprecedented aggression), loss of appetite and hair loss", which indicate it is stressed.

She advised: "Try to maintain their normal routine and rules where possible, so your pet still knows what’s expected of them and when.

"Spend time together, for example sitting in the living room with them when working from home, but try to ensure some independent time for them if they usually would have had this during work or school hours.

"Try to ensure regular walks or alternative exercise at similar times to their usual routine."