5 Paw-Some Reasons to Make Your Pet Your Valentine
Valentines Day is a celebration of love, a day to take a break from the to-do list, have fun and show friends and loved ones just how much they mean to you. Although we may not be able to come together for meet-ups with friends and family this year the same way we did before, we can still shower our love on those we live with. So why not spend this special day with someone who is always there giving you unconditional love - your pet!
Whether you are single or part of a couple, here are five reasons why you should make your dog or cat your extra special valentine!
1. They Give Unconditional Love and Snuggles
Whatever your mood, happy or sad, your pet is always there ready to give your some cat love, doggy licks, snuggles, and cuddles.
Nothing beats having your cat curl up next to you full of love and trust; or that special bond with dog that you have where they know when you are feeling down and just lean against you to offer comfort. “Simply petting an animal can decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol and boost release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, resulting in lowered blood pressure and heart rate and, possibly, in elevated mood,” says Dr. Marwan Sabbagh of the Lou Ruvu Center for Brain Health.
In fact, according to a Dog Parent Study conducted by BarkBox 71% of dog parents believe that their dogs make them happier people, with 80% stating it is easier to wake in the morning because their dogs greet them. It's no wonder we think of dogs (and cats) as a person's best friend.
The beautiful thing about pets is that you never have to wonder 'do my dogs love me' or 'do cats feel love' when you can see it every day by how they act around you. When you care for your pet, they return that love a hundred fold. Desiree Wiercyski, a life coach in Fort Wayne, Illinois, agrees: "A pet can remind you that you're not alone. Pets offer unconditional love, which can be extraordinarily soothing [especially] when feeling isolated."
We're always grateful to have our beloved dogs or cats, and our pets are grateful to have us - but in quarantine, count yourself especially lucky to have a faithful friend to help bear the stress of isolation.
2. They're Loyal and Dependable
Coming home at the end of a long day or even just a shopping trip, there is always someone who is happy to see you. I can come home to a house full of people, but everyone is too busy or distracted to greet me. However, I always know that my dog will be eagerly waiting at the door, wagging his tail in excitement as I come up the walk. It almost makes up for having to leave them at home in the first place - though of course we wish we didn't have to!
And for some, having a pet means more than just having a loyal companion to greet them at the door - it means having someone they can rely on to help them navigate the everyday, to live rich and fulfilling lives.
In the United States, approximately 500,000 service dogs are helping people with visual impairments navigate unfamiliar places, protect someone who is having a seizure from getting hurt, or help people cope with mental health issues.
Organizations like Pets for Patriots work to save veterans' lives by providing them a loyal companion to care for. Many of these veterans suffer from depression and PTSD, but having a therapy animal, dog or cat to care for gives them a new purpose in life. It also stops them from thinking about the past or worrying about the future because animals do not dwell on what happened yesterday, nor what may happen tomorrow - they live only in the present and thereby get their human companions to do the same.
If you have a service dog, give them some extra love this holiday.
3. They Make The Greatest Best Friends
Dogs and cats are not only your loyal companions, they are always ready and will adapt to whatever you have in mind.
If you want to go for a hike, play catch, or just take a walk around the neighborhood, they'll be right by your side. Even as pets get older and start to slow down, they'll never say no to a walk or a cuddle with their favorite person. No amount of joint pain or arthritis can slow your dog down and prevent them from walking by your side.
And if you just want to spend a lazy day in lounging around, they are always ready for that too. Especially cats. When you love your cat, they know it and gladly curl up next to you on your favorite chair, couch or anywhere that you are (on their own terms of course).
And even when you are not in the mood to socialize or be in a crowd, who better than your kitty cat or pup to quietly listen and agree with whatever you have to say. They don't argue, they don't talk back, and they don't offer unwanted advice. It's like having your own therapist to confide to - and again for point #1, they can always help you feel better after letting out your emotions.
4. They Are Helpful and Inspiring
Over time and with good training, both cats and dogs can be taught to help out around the house. Everything from getting your slippers, to detecting smoke and warning of danger, to helping herd animals on the farm. Animals have even been taught to clean up toys, pick up garbage, sort laundry, close doors, turn off lights and even be your alarm clock. But did you know that your trusted kitty or loyal hound can also help you focus and stick with a task?
We already know that having a dog or cat can help lower your blood pressure and relieve stress, but they can also help us focus and motivate us to take better care of ourselves.
A study conducted with children who were given a task to do found that the kids made fewer errors in a matching task in the presence of a dog. This indicated that the dog served as both a source of motivation and the right stimulation that allowed them to keep their attention to the task.
Another program matched sedentary adults with therapy animals and had the participant be responsible for walking the dog. The program resulted in the patients increasing their activity over a 52 week period with the participants stating their motivation for adherence was “the dogs need us to walk them”.
We all know that we would do certain things just out of love for our fur babies even if we wouldn't necessarily do those things for ourselves, and this can become a great motivator that benefits people as much as animals. In fact, the Center for Diet and Activity Research conducted a study into human motivation. When comparing dog walkers and people with pets vs those without, the study concluded that "Physical activity interventions typically try and support people to be active by focusing on the benefits to themselves, but dog walking is also driven by the needs of the animal," Andy Jones, a professor and researcher said in the release. "Being driven by something other than our own needs might be a really potent motivator and we need to find ways of tapping into it when designing exercise interventions in the future."
Pets help us reach our goals and be the best version of ourselves, so the least we can do is dedicate some of our time to making them happy in return.
5. They're Lots of FUN!
Many people with one or even multiple pets would agree that having their fur babies around is just plain fun. Sometimes exasperating, sometimes hilarious, sometimes downright silly - but never dull and boring.
Our kitty cats and pups can make us laugh with their antics, they lift up our mood, nudge us out of our thoughts, and give us the confidence to interact and socialize with other people, no matter how we do it. When you talk to other pet owners you feel a special bond - you now know that you're not the only one whose dog eats poo or whose cat snarls at and bosses the dog around.
If you can't decide how to make this Cat Valentine or Dog Valines Day
extra special, here are a few ideas:
- Bake a special home made treat
- Watch your favorite movie together
- Go shopping for a special treat
- Make a paw print of your pal
- Have professional photos taken of you and your pet (be as silly as you want)
- Treat your pooch to a fancy doggy daycare, spa or massage
- Explore a new area or go for a swim
- Make a special dinner for two
Pets - whether dog or cat, bird or hamster, guinea pig or chicken - know us and understand us like no one else, and still love us! So this Valentine's Day, treat them to something special and just enjoy that unique bond with a valentine like no other (but save the chocolate for yourself).
Want your best friend to be healthy and live forever (or at least as long as possible)? Check out our guide on Simple Steps to a Happier and Healthier Dog in One Month.