It’s a given that we all love our pets. But how often do we think about all that they do for us and all the ways they improve our lives? Numerous studies show that owning a dog or a cat can decrease blood pressure, reduce stress and depression, help us lose weight—even lower cholesterol and boost our immunity. If you have children, your pets also help your little ones become more resistant to allergens and develop stronger emotional connections. Overall, our pets help us live longer, happier lives. We’d say that’s something to celebrate.
Luckily, the first full week of June is National Pet Appreciation Week, the perfect time to lavish your four-legged family member with extra love and attention. Here are some easy ways to show your dog or your cat that you recognize and appreciate all of the joy they bring to your home.
Ways to Celebrate Your Dog
Let’s be honest—making a dog happy is a pretty simple task. All they really want is healthy dog food, water, shelter, and as much quality time as you can spare. In addition to picking up an extra bag of your pup’s favorite healthy treat or a new chew toy, consider carving out some time for more playtime and exercise this week.
Schedule a Doggie Date
There are so many places in our hometown of Greenville, SC that are now dog-friendly, you could schedule a doggie date nearly anywhere. The same is true in most small-to-mid-sized cities—from pet bakeries to pet water fountains at your local park, more and more places are finding ways to care for our fur family members. For your pet to get the most enjoyment, think about a nice long hike, a doggie park, or anywhere that there’s water to splash in or lots of space to get off the leash and run around.
Schedule a Pampering Day
Just like humans, dogs need a little pampering and TLC to feel their best. One affordable way to show your dog some appreciation this week is to schedule a special dog grooming appointment with bonus services, like soothing shampoos and extra brushing. If you want to make a day of it, you can sign your furry friend up for Doggie Day Care so you know he’s getting plenty of exercise and attention while you’re at work.
Make a Puzzle Toy
Of course, there are plenty of puzzle toys on the market to buy, but we think that Pet Celebration Week calls for some handcrafted love. Dogs love to engage their brains, especially when their owners aren’t around. Before you go to work, leave your dog a simple puzzle to solve in order to get a treat. You could hide treats under tennis balls in a muffin tin, hide a treat in an empty cereal box and tape it shut (expect destruction!). For especially active dogs, make a rolling treat dispenser by punching holes in a large, cleaned out plastic jar, such as an empty peanut butter jar. Fill the jar with small treats and have fun watching as your dog pushes the jar around with her nose to get at the goodies. As a bonus, when you leave your dog with something to do while you’re gone, he’s less likely to experience separation anxiety.
Add 15 Minutes to Your Walk
Maybe the easiest way to show your dog some extra love this week is to add a few minutes to your regular walk. Dogs are happiest when their brains are being stimulated by new sights, sounds, and smells—all of which occur on their walk. A well-exercised pet will also sleep better at night and be generally healthier and happier. Adding time to your walk will benefit your mood and well-being, too!
Ways to Celebrate Your Cat
Cats are notoriously finicky and more difficult to please than dogs—but it’s still pretty easy to show them some love during pet appreciation week.
Cats Like Puzzle Toys, Too!
Although it’s usually assumed that cats can live just fine without humans, they do miss us and get lonely while we’re gone. Plus, cats are natural hunters, so puzzle toys serve two purposes: engaging cats while their owners are away and honing their instincts. Both of these things will keep your kitty healthier and happier for life. In fact, many animal experts recommend that cat owners switch entirely to forage feeding, or no-bowl feeding. We’re not sure that’s the answer, especially for busy pet owners, but adding a foraging element to your cat’s diet is a good idea. The simplest at-home puzzle toys you can make are foraging eggs. Punch holes in several large, plastic fillable Easter eggs, fill the eggs halfway full of treats that will fit through the hole, and hide the eggs throughout your home. If you do this a couple times a week, your cat will stay more active and mentally alert as she ages.
Make Your Home More Cat-Friendly
We’re not saying you have to go full “cat lady” or “cat guy” and turn your entire home into an enormous indoor cat playground. But you could spend some time this week looking for ways to enrich the environment for your cat. Cat tubes, towers, scratching posts, and other cat furniture pieces go a long way toward keeping your pet happy. We also love cat hammocks! If your cat is an indoor cat only (which we recommend), non-toxic plants and grasses can help your feline friend get much-needed fiber and nutrition. Potted catnip and valerian are favorites for most cats, though you may need to monitor to make sure your cat doesn’t overindulge. Other good plants include grasses, such as rye and cat grass, which can be bought at most pet stores, as well as fragrant herbs like parsley, thyme, and cilantro. Another benefit of keeping some cat-attracting plants around your home—your cat is less likely to chew up your other houseplants.
Get a New Teaser Toy
While cats may not crave our time and attention as much as dogs, and are much better about being playful on their own, they do want to play and interact with us. This week, make it a goal to spend 10 to 15 minutes a day using a teaser toy or lure to play with your cat. Like the puzzle toys for treats, these toys exercise your cat’s innate need to hunt and pounce, which are important skills your cat needs in order to stay happy and content indoors.
Of course, this list is only a guide to get you thinking. You know your pet better than anyone—and will know just how to celebrate your special fur family member this week!