The month of love is the perfect time to reflect on the various forms of love that surround us. While romantic relationships may take centre stage, let's not forget the incredible bond we share with our pets.
“Be they dogs or cats, our pets provide us with unconditional love, emotional support, and a unique kind of companionship,” explains pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Marycke Ackhurst.
She explores how our pets contribute to our emotional well-being and shares tips on nurturing the love we have for them.
Unconditional love – One of the most remarkable aspects of pet companionship is the unconditional love they offer. Pets don't judge, hold grudges, or demand perfection. Their love is pure, accepting, and unwavering, providing a source of comfort and reassurance to their pet parents.
Stress reduction – Many studies show that interacting with pets can significantly reduce stress levels. Petting a cat or dog triggers the release of oxytocin, the ‘love hormone,’ which promotes feelings of happiness and reduces stress.
Physical activity and well-being – Dogs encourage physical activity through daily walks and playtime. This not only benefits their health but also promotes physical well-being for pet parents. Cats love a bit of exercise (disguised as playtime) too, from chasing a catnip toy mouse to some vigorous climbing post scratching and nuzzling, anything to unleash their kitten-ish behaviour. Engaging in activities with your pet not only keeps them active but also contributes to your own fitness and overall health.
Companionship for mental health – For those facing loneliness or dealing with mental health challenges, pets can be invaluable companions. The presence of a loyal pet can provide a sense of purpose, reduce feelings of isolation, and offer comfort during difficult times.
Non-judgmental listeners – Sometimes, all we need is someone to listen without judgment. Pets are excellent listeners. Share your thoughts, worries, and joys with them. They may not respond with words, but their attentive presence can be incredibly therapeutic.
Routine and structure – Pets thrive on routine, and having a pet often introduces a sense of structure into our lives. Daily walks, feeding times, and play sessions create a predictable routine that can bring stability and a sense of purpose to all.
Learn from their presence – Pets teach us valuable life lessons, such as living in the present moment and expressing joy in simple pleasures. Take a moment to observe your pet's carefree attitude and allow their zest for life to inspire you.
Create special moments – Dedicate quality time to bonding with your pet. Whether it's through play, grooming, or simply cuddling on the couch, these shared moments strengthen the emotional connection between the two of you.
Celebrate love every day – While Valentine's Day is a special occasion, celebrate the love you share with your pet every day. Watching our pets enjoy their food by providing it in a novel way brings joy and happiness to us in return! Try using a snuffle mat for kibbles or stuff a toy with wet food. Not only does this slow down their eating time but watching them figure it out and achieving success makes that love vibe even stronger. Other small gestures like a new toy, extra playtime, or a cosy blanket can show your appreciation for the joy and love they bring into your life.
Visit the Hill’s website for more information