May is National Pet Month and as we hope we’ve made abundantly clear, celebrating our animal bff’s is truly one of our favorite things ever. As I write this, a fluffy puppy lies on my feet, playing with her chew toy and the birds are chirping in happy abandon outside. Kind of a cool setup for all things pet/animal oriented.
This year, we thought it would be nice to not only share some ideas on how to embrace the month of pet revelry, but some lovely insights into why having these little beasties in our lives helps us decompress and feel joy. And so in honor of the forever babies who bring smiles to our faces — and vet bills galore — we present you four ways that not only help you show your love to your special fur ball/feathered friend, but give you some much deserved well-being boosts, no matter the time of year.
A pet, a rub, a hug… aah…
No matter what kind of animal brings joy to your life, cuddling, hugging, stroking, or plain old petting them is a tactile experience that relaxes them and soothes you. The feeling of the fur, feathers, hair, whatever against your fingers creates a sensation of ease and lowers your heart rate and your blood pressure. Your pet feels that much more connected to you and it loosens their muscles, slows their breathing, and enhances their well-being and comfort. Pet massage is as important to them as people massage is to you.
Fetch, tag, chess — play time is here!
Nothin’ says lovin’ like playin’ with your pet. Again, this is a great bonding experience for the two of you, a way for you to connect and it teaches your pet to focus and use their brain. If your animal is in need of training, making it fun helps. You also get the added benefit of playtime giving you a much needed break from the craziness of your day and a heightened feeling of joy that comes from spending quality, active time with your animals.
Just for the record, playing isn’t just throwing the ball for your pet, wiggling a tassel at the end of a stick, or getting your hamster to run around a tiny obstacle course. Logic games are great for pets of all types because they stimulate their minds, teach them problem solving skills, and engage all of their senses. Toys where you hide treats for your animals to find are awesome and keep them alert and vibrant. At the same time, you are spending quality time with your pet and that gives you a sense of accomplishment, enjoyment and just feeling good about them and yourself, actually.
Good, old fashioned exercise
Yes, some play is definitely exercise but you can also get your endorphins and heart pumping by riding your bike with your dog running beside you or going for a walk in the park with your cat or small animal on a leash — believe me when I say you can teach cats and small animals how to walk on a harness. Just don’t expect it to be like walking a dog. Exercise benefits you and your pet basically the same way — strengthening your heart and muscles, defending you against various diseases, releasing pent up energy, helping you sleep better (knew we’d go there, didn’t ya?) — you get the drift. When you do this together, it also deepens your bond and lowers your stress tremendously. And by the way? If yoga is your thing, you can incorporate your pet into it. Animal yoga is huge right now and just think of how at peace you both will be. Namaste!
Going out? Take ‘em with you!
While not all restrictions are lifted quite yet, outdoor areas are pretty available to you. Those are perfect places for you and your pet to meet up with other pet lover friends. Whether it’s going to a dog park, meeting up with friends who have cats, taking your rat with you, eating out at a pet friendly restaurant with your bird on your shoulder — whatever — it teaches your pet to be around other people and animals, making them more confident, calm in unique situations, and at ease in general when interacting with others. The time you and your bff spend out there in the world also gives you a chance to socialize with old friends, make new ones, develop and reinforce your friendships, and continue to build up your support system. We all need and deserve facetime with loved ones. Doing so also gets you out of your home and into some fresh air for a change of scenery, and a bonding with nature that is awesome for your circadian rhythm and mental and emotional health.
Many animals also really enjoy car rides and it’s something that many of us also like — getting behind the wheel, driving along a favorite backroad, taking in the sights around us. It’s our little escape, and as you are traveling to your destination to hang out with others, you and your furry, feathery, hairy pal can drink in the scenery and even turn it into a little adventure. Take different routes to mix it up and surprise yourself, and introduce new smells, sights and sounds for your buddy.
Celebrate and relax
Loving our animal besties is so easy, isn’t it? That unconditional give and take is often what helps us face the day and makes the craziness go away faster than anything when we see that they are blissfully happy to see us. They are on our side no matter what and they will do anything for us. Knowing we get just as much benefit out of loving them as they do out of loving us is a true gift.
No other relationship in our lives will ever compare to what we share with our pets. Think of it — our animals live for such a short time and yet in those few years, the impact they make is eternal and unmatched. And when they are gone? We willingly seek it out again, and although the little being we bring into our home may be different, the true and total adoration we receive from them is just as intense.
We wish you a very happy National Pet Month. Our pets deserve to be honored and you deserve to feel good doing it.