February marks a holiday that many hate and others adore—Valentine’s Day. When you have pets, you don’t have to worry about celebrating with a significant other—instead, you can show your pet your love and how much you care. Here is the Mercer Street Veterinary Hospital team’s list of ways to show your pet love on Valentine’s Day, and all year long.
#1: Gift your pet with engaging toys
Pets love new toys, which can provide great play opportunities for your pet on their own or with you, or engage your pet’s problem solving and cognitive skills. Play keeps your pet physically active and works their brain, which can lower their risk for dementia as they age. Playing is also fun, and keeps pets from becoming bored and developing associated behavior problems.
You can play together with your pet using tug toys, fetch balls or, for cats, stick and wand toys, which create feel-good feelings for you both. Interactive toys keep your pet entertained longer—try stuffable rubber toys or other food puzzles that give treats and fun at the same time.
#2: Spend daily quality time with your pet
The number one thing pets want in life is being close to the people they care most about. Our busy culture means spending time with pets may fall to your priority list’s end, but carving out time in your schedule is essential for your pet’s health and wellbeing. Ensure you spend time near or with your pet each day, according to their personality. Some pets prefer to sit near or next to you, others want to actively engage, while still others could compete in cuddling as an extreme sport. Provide your pet with the type of contact they most enjoy.
#3: Give your pet treats, but avoid overfeeding
One simple fact of life—pets love food. However, pets may love food, but food does not equal love. While treating pets—especially during training—is a great way to build your bond and show your love, overfeeding pets who continuously beg can lead to health problems. Around half U.S. pets are overweight, putting them at high risk for life-shortening diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. Treats are appropriate in moderation, but keeping your pet healthy is a better way to show that you care.
#4: Engage in regular exercise together
Exercise is extremely important for your pet’s physical and mental health. Daily walks for dogs provide one-on-one time, exercise, and new sights, smells, sounds, and friends that keep them mentally engaged and reduce boredom. Indoor cats can become frustrated when bored, but daily play sessions or interactive toys that encourage movement will strengthen your bond while providing exercise.
#5: Respect your pet’s boundaries
Sometimes the best way to say, “ I love you,” is to walk away and respect your pet’s boundaries. Independent pets do not always appreciate snuggles, hugs, or kisses, but want to engage on their terms. Allow them to choose how much time they want to be together and to interact—this is especially important for cats, who can easily be stressed by unwanted togetherness, which can lead to behavior issues.
#6: Find outlets for pets to do what they love most
Sometimes what makes your pet the happiest is not desirable, and they are punished for behaving inappropriately. Remember that pets are animals who have natural instincts and behaviors, and pet owners need to provide outlets for these instincts. For example, if your dog loves to dig, he’ll love you for giving him a safe digging spot, such as a sandbox or baby pool. If your cat wakes you up at night because you close a door they want open—leave the door open. Living with pets is like any other relationship—happiness is a two-way street.
Your pet loves you unconditionally, so look for ways to show them your love and strengthen your unique bond not only on Valentine’s Day, but also year-round. While a veterinary visit isn’t every pet’s idea of fun, keeping them healthy through regular wellness care helps ensure the best, longest possible human-pet relationship. Contact the Mercer Street Veterinary Hospital team If your pet is overdue for wellness services, or you need more ideas for Valentine’s Day fun.
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