Celebrating National Pet Month: How Pets Benefit Our Lives (And How We Can Return The Favor)

Having celebrated National Pet Day just a few weeks ago, we’re still pulling glitter from our hair (and paws), but we’re also stocking up on party favors for the month of May. That’s right, go grab that tupperware full of treats - we’re in midst of National Pet Month!

According to its founders, this monthlong holiday acknowledges the positive impact that pets have on our lives while reminding us that we must provide them with the best quality care. Originating in the UK and now in its 27th year, National Pet Month aims to spread awareness about the mutually beneficial relationship of pet ownership and educate folks about being responsible dog dads and meow moms.

The purrs, snuggles and slobbery kisses are sweet and heartwarming, but the affection we receive from our fur babes does more than put a smile on our faces - it benefits us both physically and psychologically.

They lower our stress & anxiety

Ever notice how your worries melt away when you’re in the middle of a major cuddle session? Research shows that petting your beloved babe can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine (the “happy chemicals” inside your noggin that help keep you calm). Also, pet owners are known to have lower heart rates and lower blood pressure than their non-pet-owner counterparts. #KeepCalmAndCuddleOn

They help our heart

Yes, we know your heart bursts with pride when your Instagram photo of Nugget gets 100 likes, but that’s not what we’re talking about. Your adorable furry roommate might have a hand in keeping your heart healthy - pet ownership may be associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced cholesterol.

They reduce allergies in children

Parents naturally want to bathe their children in a vat of antibacterial gel, but we now know that early germs are not the enemy. Studies indicate that babies exposed to pets during their first year have stronger immune systems and are less likely to develop allergies. So there’s no need to freak out when Nugget nuzzles up to your kiddo.

They get us active

Zipping outside with your pooch can have a dual purpose - bathroom time for Nugget, and workout time for you. So it makes sense that dog owners are more likely to fulfill their daily exercise requirements than non-dog owners. Working out together will also deepen your bond with Nugget.

They keep us connected 

Pets are a great ice-breaker. A shared passion for animals = instant conversation opportunity. Cat owners inevitably have a million photos on their phones, and dog owners constantly stop to chat with each other during walks or hikes. Pets inherently serve as a foundation for interaction, and studies have clearly shown that people with more social relationships tend to live longer healthier lives.

National Pet Month 2

Considering all the ways that pets improve our well-being, it’s only fair that we do the same.

Give ‘em good workouts

As much as they like to sleep, pets should not live a sedentary life. You need to actively participate in giving your pet a healthy amount of exercise. Got a kitty? Invest in a variety of toys that’ll appease her hunting instincts, like wand and kicker toys. Make an effort to play with kitty at least 15 minutes every day. Got a doggy? When you head outside for his potty break, go for an extended walk - at least 30 minutes.

Always spay/neuter

It’s your duty as a responsible pet parent to get your sweetie spayed or neutered. Pets who aren’t fixed have a greater chance of developing certain types of cancer. They also tend to be more assertive, are more prone to roaming and will likely mark their territory all over your house. Plus, when you spay/ neuter, you’re doing your part to reduce the pet overpopulation crisis.

Feed ‘em the right type of food

Since your pet can’t drive to the store and pick out his food, he depends on you to provide him with the right type of nosh. His nutrition needs can vary depending on his age, weight, and activity level, so it’s important that you choose high-quality brands.

Feed ‘em the right amount of food

Many pet parents have no idea whether they’re feeding their babe the correct amount of food, which often results in a chubby fur child. Portion control is imperative in keeping Nugget at a healthy weight. Even a few extra pounds can lead to hypertension, respiratory problems, and damage to his bones, joints and organs.

Take ‘em for regular vet visits

You may think everything looks fine on the surface, but there could be something going on inside Nugget’s mouth or body that you just can’t see. Annual vet checkups are crucial to monitor his oral and internal health.

In honor of your beloved fur babe and his unconditional love, take advantage of National Pet Month. Spend extra special time with your little companion. Support your local shelters and spread the word about adoption. And show Nugget that love is a four-legged word.

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