While every day with our pets may be special, we celebrate with extra love and attention to our pets during Pet Appreciation Week, June 3-9.
Kit Darling, the infection control coordinator at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said pets offer more than just companionship. “We should remember to recognize our pets everyday as they provide unconditional love and help us to alleviate stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression,” Darling said.
“Pets help improve our mood. They have a non-judgmental nature, while encouraging playfulness, laughter, and increased energy levels. These activities are good for our health and well-being.”
All pets offer some sort of therapy, but some pets are specially trained to spread love throughout communities.
“In our local community, we have an animal-assisted therapy group called Aggieland Pets with a Purpose,” Darling said. “Our pets visit most of the nursing and assisted-living facilities, schools, and the juvenile detention center in our community. Some healthcare professionals even use our pets to help with physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Besides providing therapeutic relief, pets also teach us valuable life lessons—responsibility and patience.”
We can show affection to our pets by making sure that they have plenty of food, water, exercise, and veterinary visits. Additionally, training our pets to be well-behaved can require a lot of dedication.
“Pets are like a baby or a young child learning which behaviors are acceptable,” Darling said. “They will make mistakes, but consistency in training is important for them to become good pets. The more time you spend teaching them appropriate behaviors, the better pet they will be. This is also a great way to bond with them.”
Caring for pets can also be self-fulfilling, as they can help us to feel needed and purposeful.
Above all, pets teach us how to love unconditionally.
“Pets are often more forgiving than we are,” Darling said. “They want us to love them. Our pets enjoy the present and do not worry about the past or the future; they remind us to take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and not worry so much.”
With all of the “paws”itive benefits of having a pet, it’s easy to see why they have such a special role in our lives. For Pet Appreciation Week, be sure to give your pet some extra love.