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National Pet Day: Tips for Exceptional and Meaningful Care

As pet owners, we know the depth of our bond with our pets and celebrate them daily, and they’re so special that they have their own holiday. Have you heard of National Pet Day?

What is National Pet Day?

National Pet Day is a holiday that falls on April 11 every year. The celebration isn’t just for dogs and cats, so feel free to honor all your pets, whether they’re furry, scaly, feathery, or hairless.

National Pet Day was first established in 2005 by animal welfare advocate and pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige. It's a great day to celebrate your pets and recognize the joy they bring to the human experience. The holiday is intended to bring awareness to pets without homes and the health benefits of pet ownership.

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Pet adoption awareness on National Pet Day

On National Pet Day, prospective pet owners are encouraged to adopt from a shelter or rescue before looking to a reputable breeder for their next family member. More dogs are purchased from breeders (around 34%) than animal shelters or humane societies (around 23%). According to the ASPCA, around 6.3 million companion animals enter shelters annually. Unfortunately, around 920,000 of those animals (almost 15%) will be euthanized before finding their home.

While this number is still high, the good news is that shelter animal euthanasia rates have decreased in the last decade, previously having been around 36% in 2011. Still, based on the ASPCA's statistics, more than one in 10 shelter animals face euthanasia before finding their home. Pet owners can save lives and help reduce the burden on animal shelters by adopting.

Health benefits of pet ownership

Don’t forget the second goal of National Pet Day — bringing awareness to the health benefits we get from pets. Chances are our pets are doing more for us than we know. Below are some of the health benefits of pet ownership:

  • Decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer signs of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Decreased stress levels, both self-reported and measured by the stress hormone cortisol
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Increased opportunities for exercise (especially with dogs)
  • Improved cognitive function in elderly people, including those with dementia

Meaningful National Pet Day activities for pet owners

There are many ways to celebrate pets on National Pet Day. Before picking an activity, consider your best friend’s species, personality, and health conditions. Not all suggestions are appropriate for every pet. Some of these activities can be performed on a budget, so if you're financially restricted this National Pet Day, you can still find something fun on our list to do with your pet.

1. Participate in pet-themed activities

Suggestions for pet-themed activities include:

  • Taking a pet painting class
  • Creating DIY pet toys
  • Collecting your pet's pawprint or footprint with pet-safe paints
  • Coloring in pet-themed coloring books (for children or adults)
  • Commissioning an art piece of your animal companion

2. Take a special trip with your pet

Some pets, especially dogs, can enjoy a trip, whether it’s a daylong hiking trip or a short trip to a pet-friendly coffee place for some whipped cream. You can also take your pet to the pet store and let them choose a new toy or treat. If you’ve adopted your pet from a shelter recently, you could visit the shelter so your pet can see their shelter worker friends, who always love to see a success story. It’s also a good day for horseback riding if you have a horse companion.

3. Spoil your pet

You could visit a pet bakery for some unique and tasty treats, make your pet an extra special meal, give them new toys or enrichment items, or have a nice grooming session. You could also clean their beds, blankets, and resting areas so they have a clean, fresh area to snooze in.

4. Honor your memories together

Your pet is hopefully part of your favorite memories. For National Pet Day, make sure you don’t forget those special times. Consider making a scrapbook or photo album of your favorite times with your pet. You could also put up framed photos in your home.

5. Check on your pet's wellness plan

Your pet helps you stay healthy, so National Pet Day is a great day to ensure you’re doing the same for your animal companion. Ensure your pet has had its recommended wellness exam this year, is up to date on recommended vaccines and preventives, and that your home is safe for your pet. You could consider enrolling in a wellness plan to help you keep up with your pet’s health needs.

6. Give back to the community on National Pet Day

You can also look outside your own home to see what impact you can have on the animals in your community. Don’t forget that awareness of shelter animals and other pets without homes is a key component of National Pet Day.

Ideas for how to get involved in your local pet community include:

  • Volunteering at your local animal shelter or rescue organization
  • Fostering a shelter animal so they can get a break from shelter life
  • Adopting from a local animal shelter or rescue organization
  • Taking in a special needs animal, such as a diabetic cat or a dog with food allergies
  • Donating blankets, food, and/or toys to a local animal shelter
  • Donating money to animal welfare organizations or local animal shelters
  • Bringing baked goods or purchasing lunch for a local veterinary clinic, animal shelter, or animal rescue
  • Purchasing pet food or toys for pets in underprivileged homes
  • Visiting an elderly care center or medical facility with your well-trained therapy animal

Tips to elevate your pet care routine

National Pet Day is an opportunity to reassess your pet care routine to ensure you're providing the best care possible to your pet. The following tips will help you elevate your pet care routine each and every day:

  1. Develop a rotating schedule of toys to help keep your pet's play sessions novel and exciting
  2. Consider incorporating scent enrichment into your pet's enrichment routine
  3. Consider adding pheromone diffusers to your home to promote a relaxing environment for dogs or cats
  4. Search for pet music that you could play for your pet when they're home alone
  5. Brush your dog or cat's teeth at least once daily, as recommended by veterinary dentists
  6. Use dental treats or dental water additives to promote good oral health for dogs and cats
  7. Look into cat TV for your feline friends
  8. Learn how to make healthy homemade dog and cat treats
  9. Set reminders in your phone to make sure you're not missing monthly preventative doses

Resources for National Pet Day

Get involved with animal welfare organizations such as the ASPCA or the Humane Society of the United States to have a broader impact on animals.

The ASPCA also lists adoptable animals through a nationwide database. You can find a local shelter or search for adoptable dogs, cats, and horses. You can also share these resources with people searching for pets.

For ideas of dog-friendly places to take your pup for National Pet Day, you can search BringFido for dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, activities, and more.

National Pet Day on April 11 is great for celebrating your love for your pet. It's also a great day to positively impact the lives of shelter animals and other pets in need of homes. Consider contacting your local non-profit animal welfare organizations to see how you can become part of the solution to pet homelessness.

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