Whether you’re the proud parent of a dog, cat, horse, pig or bearded dragon, there’s one thing all pet parents have in common: We all love our babies! Did you know, though, that February 20th is actually designated as National Love Your Pet Day?
“But I love my pet every day,” you may be thinking. That’s true, but National Love Your Pet Day is the nationally (albeit unofficial) designated day to love and appreciate your pets, just as Valentine’s Day is the nationally recognized day to love and appreciate the different human relationships in your life.
Although the exact origins of the day have been lost, it’s believed that the day was first celebrated sometime in the early-2000s. The creation of the day has been attributed to different people and animal rights groups over the years, but no one can pinpoint the exact “creator” of the day.
It is known that it was not started by pet food companies or large retailers as a way to make more money. Most likely, it was created by animal lovers who just wanted to bring awareness and appreciation to their pets.
Why You Should Celebrate
Our pets add so many wonderful things to our lives just by existing. Owning a pet has been proven to lower your stress levels, lowered cholesterol, blood pressure, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness or depression.
Certain pets, especially dogs, horses and other farm-type animals, get us out of our houses and into nature. They give us more opportunities for exercise and socialization. They teach us responsibility and turn us into kinder, more empathetic people.
With everything they give us, it’s important we take a day and give back to them. Also, if you’re like most Americans and like to take pictures and post them on social media, sharing photos of yourself loving on your pets for National Love Your Pet Day could inspire others to go out and adopt shelter animals of their own.
Ways to Celebrate
Special One-on-One Time
Because National Love Your Pet Day is an unofficial holiday, there are no set guidelines or traditional ways to celebrate it. The way you, specifically, should celebrate the holiday will depend largely on the type of pet(s) you have.
Many dog owners enjoy taking their dogs for special days out, such as long walks in the woods, a day at the lake or a trip to the local doggy playground. If you have a cat that likes to walk on a harness, these can be great ideas for cat parents, too.
Some horse owners spend extra time grooming their babies or riding them somewhere special where the horse can graze. Goats enjoy just being with their owners, roughhousing, climbing, head-butting and chewing on their clothes. Let your bird spend some extra time out of its cage.
All animals enjoy spending quality time with their owners. It doesn’t matter exactly what you do with your pets during this special one-on-one time; just make sure you dedicate a little extra time to love on them on January 20th.
One of the most practical ways to celebrate this day is by purchasing a special gift for your furry (or feathered or scaly) best friend. New toys for cats and dogs are always great choices. A new bed or blanket is another great option for most animals.
If you have a reptile, you could buy it a new hide-a-rock or something neat for its tank or enclosure. Birds always appreciate new toys, especially if they’re shiny or noisy.
Small rodents love new wooden toys they can chew on to file their teeth. They could also benefit from a new ball that lets them run around the house and explore beyond their normal territories.
Every animal from dogs to tarantulas love tasty treats. When it comes to appreciating your pet, there are few things you could do for it that it would like better than tasty treats. Buy or make something delicious for your pet to show him how loved he is.
Homemade treats made of yummy, all-natural ingredients are great choices for both cats and dogs. When it comes to farm animals and small rodents, you can get off easy with some of their favorite fruits and veggies.
If your pet is of the scaly variety, pick it up some of its favorite crunchy insects or small, tasty treats. You can even treat your fish to something a little new and different with frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp.
Every animal loves a tasty treat.
In honor of this amazing, pet-centric holiday, we also wanted to provide you with some fun facts about pets in America.
*Note: All stats come from the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey.
Number of U.S. Households That Own Pets by Animal Type
- Dog – 63.4 million
- Cat – 42.7 million
- Freshwater Fish – 11.5 million
- Bird – 5.7 million
- Small Animal – 5.4 million
- Reptile – 4.5 million
- Horse – 1.6 million
- Saltwater Fish – 1.6 million
Number of Pets Owned in the U.S. by Animal Type
- Freshwater Fish – 139.3 million
- Cat – 94.2 million
- Dog 89.7 million
- Bird – 20.3 million
- Saltwater Fish – 18.8 million
- Small Animal – 14 million
- Reptile – 9.4 million
- Horse – 7.6 million
We love our pets all the time; it’s nothing new for us. However, on February 20th, love them just a little extra for just a little longer as a way to say thank you for all they give to us.
And don’t forget to share those National Love Your Pet Day selfies online! Hopefully you’ll inspire someone else to go rescue a wonderful pet who wants a forever home in which to live and a forever family to love.