BLOG POST: Love Your Pet Day: Celebrating our furry and feathered friends
February 20, 2015
by Kersti Seksel,
BVSc (Hons) MRCVS MA (Hons) FACVSc DACVB DECAWBM
Registered Veterinary Specialist, Behavioural Medicine
They stand by our side when we find ourselves angry, offer a shoulder (or a furry paw) when we’re stressed after an especially hard day at work, and they share in our joy when we’re exuberantly happy. From the second we open our eyes in the morning to the moment we turn the television off and head to bed in the evening, our pets shower us with unconditional, unrelenting love all day, everyday – 365 days a year.
In fact, not only do our pets provide us with support and encouragement, but an abundance of research into human-animal interaction has shown that pets provide their human owners with incredible health benefits. Pet owners are said to live happier and healthier lives then their non- pet owning counterparts.
Especially within recent years, the positive relationship between human health and pet ownership has been observed in a number of health-related disciplines including exercise, mental health and physical health. While dog ownership is said to encourage over two hours of extra physical activity every week (1), pet ownership in general has been suggested to improve patient survival after a heart attack (2), help reduce stress and reduce overall blood pressure (3). Research out of the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, a centre funded by Mars Petcare, suggests that pets help us retain health and mobility into old age and that a pet’s presence can help us to engage with new people and helps to strengthen communities. (4)
Love Your Pet Day, celebrated right across the globe, falls on February 20 2015 and offers pet owners an opportunity to recognise the immeasurable benefits and love that our furry or feathered partners provide us with every day. Whether it’s an extra long walk or a cheeky bacon treat, Love Your Pet Day encourages pet owners and pet lovers worldwide to pay special attention to their pet companions; to try and give back even a fraction of the unconditional love -that they show us on a daily basis.
Australia has a reputation as one of the most pet-friendly countries in the world. Over 50 per cent of the country’s residents own a pet of some kind. However, as external factors start to influence living and work life, it is more important then ever for Australia and Australians to remain pet-friendly and therefore allow current and future pet owners to continue enjoying the many advantages of having a companion animal in their lives.
It comes as no surprise that pet ownership is quite the commitment. Pets need consistent attention and a positive environment in order to flourish and live as happily and healthily as possible. Australian citizens are becoming busier, working longer hours and have less time to spend at home. Major metropolitan cities are becoming increasingly vertical; apartment and condo living is consistently on the rise, thus limiting the space that people and their pets have to roam.
Love Your Pet Day not only presents pet owners with a chance to show their furry friend some extra love, but encourages Australia to consider its ‘pet policies’ and ensure that it maintains its status as a leading pet-friendly country.
A pet-friendly country supports and allows more pet owners to benefit from the incredible health benefits that pets provide. As research into this subject continues, and as more comparisons and analytics continue to be divulged, animal companionship remains an effective tool for coping with the ups and downs of everyday life.
This Love Your Pet Day, reflect on how your special friend has improved your own life. Perhaps they help you get outside after a long workday or perhaps they offer emotional support during tough times. One thing remains indisputable; our pets deserve the same love and attention that they show us.. So as you celebrate Love Your Pet Day this year with an extra treat or a committed hour of playtime, consider how you can make it ‘Love Your Pet Day’ for your pet each and everyday.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr Kersti Seksel is a registered Veterinary Specialist in Behavioural Medicine. She works in Seaforth, NSW and she has learnt a lot from her two special needs dogs, Indi and Tina.
- Christian et al., (2012) Understanding the relationship between dog ownership and children's physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Pediatric Obesity. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2012.00113. (available here)
- Levine et al., (2013) Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 127:2353–2363 (available here)
- Friedmann et al., (2013) Pet's presence and owner's blood pressures during the daily lives of pet owners with pre- to mild hypertension. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, Volume 26, Number 4, December 2013, pp. 535-550(16) (available here)
- McCune et al (2014) Evolution of Research into the mutual benefits of human-animal interaction. Animal Frontiers. Volume 4, Number 3, December 2014, p 49-58. (available here).