Tensions are high during the pandemic – and not just for people. Dogs also absorb stress and fear. This can lead to aggressive behavior.
A new report from State Farm shows claims for dog-related injuries increase during the pandemic.
State Farm paid nearly $ 157 million for nearly 3,200 dog bite or injury claims in the United States last year. The biggest increase was in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.
Heather Paul, the insurance company’s dog behavior specialist, said she saw a 115% increase.
“It was clear that dogs were picking up our fear,” said Paul. “In a way, we also invaded their space. Our dogs and pets, used to us being away all day so they can have a quiet time, suddenly had to live with us around the clock – and that can be a little nerve-wracking. “
Paul said the trend changed as things weakened. As people became more convenient to operate from home, she said, so did our pets. But now there is a new problem:
“As we returned to a normal life after COVID, our pets, who got used to us being at home, are now being left alone. And so there are instances of separation anxiety where dogs can display anxiety and stressful behavior. They could bite or destroy property. “
Paul said another concern is that so-called pandemic pets that were adopted or promoted during the lockdown may not have been properly socialized. Chances to meet other people and dogs are limited, she said, and that means pets could easily become overwhelmed.
“We don’t want to rush them,” said Paul. “We should all make sure we are as focused on our mental health as we do on the sanitary of our dogs to reduce the risk of injury.”
Paul said there are things pet owners can do to keep themselves and their pets safe.
“We want to focus on educating people about the responsible use of pets. Everything from keeping your dog on a leash, understanding and recognizing your dog’s body language, making changes that your dog is uncomfortable with, and talking to your insurance agent about the insurance limits for your homeowner or renter insurance ”, she said.
Paul said many policies range between $ 100,000 and $ 300,000. However, State Farm recommends pet owners consider additional liability insurance that covers expenses of up to several million dollars.
“One of the reasons we are seeing an increase in the amount paid for dog injury claims is the rising cost of health care. You may have someone who breaks their hip and needs physical therapy – and it’s going to cost more, ”she said. “But we also see more and more people complaining to cover the costs of their expenses. And that can get very expensive. “
Paul said pet owners shouldn’t be discouraged if their dog shows potentially aggressive behavior. She said it is important to recognize the possibility of risk and take responsibility.
“We have pets because of the camaraderie they bring us, the joy they bring us. And our pets expect us to protect them and recognize them when they’re not feeling well, ”said Paul. “Do not put your dog in a situation where he could possibly harm someone. We want to set up our pets so that they succeed, not fail. “
There is no subscription fee to hear or read our stories. Thanks to the support of the community, everyone can access this important public service. Donate now and help fund your public media.