You might associate the month of February with cards from secret admirers on Valentine’s Day and delicious pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, but did you also know that February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day? This is a special day to celebrate something we can all relate to – the place in our hearts we have especially for our beloved furry friends.

History of Love Your Pet Day

It is a bit of a mystery which animal the very first pet was. However, it is thought that Love Your Pet Day day was created especially to celebrate how closely interwoven our pets’ lives are with our own. For thousands of years, at least since 10,000 BC our love for pets has been evident when dogs and cats were buried in their owners’ graves.

It is also well known that the wolf lived alongside early humans for centuries. Later, royals in Europe started to kept toy dog breeds as pets in the 1600s. This unofficial holiday has evolved and expanded in recent years as more people than ever welcome new furry, feathered and scaly family members.

Popular pets

It is estimated that a whopping 51 million pets reside in homes all over the UK. As the UK’s population is 66 million, this figure means that there is more than one pet in every other home across the nation.

A 2018 Pet Census showed that the favourite pet in Britain is the dog, with the Labrador Retriever and its loyal, friendly nature being the breed to top the charts as the favourite! In second place on the popularity scale is of course the cat, and in third place fish, followed by rabbits, horses, reptiles, rodents and birds.

Why we love our pets

There are a myriad reasons why, as a nation, we are bonkers over our four-legged friends (not to mention the fact that they’re just adorable!). The unconditional love we receive from our pets is like nothing else we are ever lucky enough to experience. With the trials and tribulations of life today, a pet can always be relied upon to help provide joy and comfort in times of sadness.

The thought of cuddles with our pet can help us through a particularly difficult day at work, not to mention the indescribable rewards of helping a rescue animal find a loving forever home. Pets teach us every day to slow down, live in the moment and be more patient and tolerant people. Many believe caring for a pet helps them to become a more loving person.

The incomparable feeling of relaxing at the end of the day with a snoozing cat on your lap, or playing happily with a contented dog has been proved to be a scientific reaction. Spending time with our pets released feel-good endorphins, reduces the stress hormone cortisol and has even been shown to improve blood pressure.

Ways to celebrate

This Love Your Pet Day, why not spoil your pet with a fun new experience? Providing your dog is fully up-to-date with vaccinations, and following current government guidelines surrounding social distancing and lockdown, why not take him or her somewhere new to sniff around and explore? You could also treat them to a new enrichment toy such as a puzzle feeder or snuffle mat, which will provide important mental stimulation.

It may not yet be your pet’s birthday, but you could treat your cat or small animal to a new toy or treat! It’s the perfect day to make a meal you know your best friend will enjoy, or simply spend some extra time playing or relaxing with them.

The ultimate celebration this Love Your Pet Day, even if you don’t have a pet of your own, would be to lend some support to a local rescue organisation. If you don’t currently have the time, means and resources to offer a permanent home to a pet, many rescue centres have struggled during Covid-19 and would be immensely grateful for the offer of a small donation or some voluntary work.

Whether you celebrate this special day with your own animal, or use it as a chance to learn about how wonderful owning a pet can be – remember to Love Your Pet, today and always!

Hannah Hunter
Rainbow-infused space unicorn... Veterinary receptionist who loves family, food, music and the ocean!

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