Cheers to all the pets in our lives! It is National Pet Appreciation week and we understand pets are more than friends…they are family! The benefits of owning a pet are endless, but how do we show our appreciation for what they bring into our lives? Although we love our pets every day, we wanted to give them some extra love and appreciation this week!
I asked my 9 year old for advice on ways to approach the idea of pet appreciation.
“Well Mom, to me, it is important to show appreciation by giving our dogs and cats fresh water and food every day, and to play with them, and love on them, and take them to their vet so they can stay healthy!”
So true young man, and thanks for this segue into zooeyia!
What’s that? You don’t know the term “zooeyia”? It is used to describe the positive benefits to human health from interacting with animals. Yeah, there’s a word for it. I talked about some of these health benefits in my January 16th blog.
Pets can also benefit, health wise, through human interaction–though a cool word has yet to be invented for said benefits. Being an attentive pet parent, and looking after their lifetime needs, has been shown to increase an animal’s lifespan. This is in comparison than those without human companions.
I think it is safe to say that animals bring joy to our lives! They have an endless capacity for love and trust of their human counterparts. Unfortunately, they cannot verbalize their wants and needs, so we must clue in to what they aren’t saying, to really hear their inner voices.
Let’s start with basic needs:
- Nutrition: Animals need to be fed a high quality diet at least twice daily. The amount fed should be calculated, depending on their level of activity. Keep in mind, FOOD DOES NOT EQUAL LOVE! Overfeeding, or unhealthy treats, can increase the risk of health problems like joint disease or diabetes. Your pet needs access to fresh water at ALL times. Keep their food and water bowls clean and sanitized. You wouldn’t want to eat or drink from a dirty dish, would you? Pay attention to your pet’s eating and drinking habits! Deviating from their consumption patterns can help us to pick up on issues you may not even know they are having!
Image courtesy of Royal Canin
- Grooming: Please remember, pets don’t always self groom or trim their own nails. Certain breeds require more attention to their coats than others. Daily brushing is a great way to discover new lumps or bumps, injury or disease. It also shows love to the one on the receiving end. Animals in the wild groom each other as well. This is important to their survival and social position. Sometimes the ill animals are unkempt and ragged looking. This is also true in domestic species. At times I use the term unkempt to describe a cat coat who ends up having an underlying disease (like diabetes, fleas, or hyperthyroidism). Thus as you spend time grooming your pet you can notice this change in coat quality early on and get help.
- Playtime: But what about interaction through play? I think most animals love language is fulfilled when, on top of basic care, they are played with. This can mean simply going on a walk, chasing a ball, frisbie, or cat toy, or challenging the brain with some puzzle toys for dogs and cats. Pets appreciate time spent with them. Some love to be held and petted, others prefer to be more active, or outdoors, but they ALL love to be noticed. Daily goals of walking the dog, or batting around the toy mouse help their brain, and ours, so have fun with them as you both receive benefits!
- Pet Healthcare: Remember, pet ownership is a big responsibility! They never learn to speak, in the traditional sense, as children do, which makes regular biannual wellness visits with your veterinarian even more important! The
veterinarian is the pet’s advocate. We are their voice in all things health related. Six months in “human time” is much closer to 3 years in a pet’s life, so do not delay healthcare visits for them. Regular vaccinations and check ups allow your veterinarian to thoroughly “hear” them while assessing their health. Being an attentive pet parent and tending to their daily needs, or monthly preventives is important to keep them feeling their best. Recognizing pet pain or change can be challenging, but trust your veterinarian to offer advice and treatments along the way.
Pet appreciation means something different to each family out there. However, there is one thing we can all agree on. We all love our pets, and they love us unconditionally. Their well being is entirely in our hands, so let’s treat them with kindness and respect today, and always.