It’s February, and that means Valentine’s Day is fast approaching – the day that tradition dictates we profess (or confess) our love to the ones we hold dear. Cards, flowers or chocolates may all serve as aides to our expressions of love for our fellow humans, but we’ve rounded up some other ideas to help you demonstrate your love for our furry and feathered friends, be they your own or those in rescues and shelters who are still searching for their forever-love and home. Without further ado, here are 10 top ways to show your love for the pets who love us unconditionally:
10 – Donate bedding: If you’re doing some Spring cleaning and refreshing around the house, don’t throw away your old blankets, sheets, towels or pillows! Instead, find a shelter or rescue nearby that would welcome your donation.
9 – Make home-cooked meals or treats for your pets: A romantic dinner by candlelight with your Calico? Sure thing! The internet is full of simple, healthful recipes for creating tasty treats or well-balanced meals for your bestie. You can also consult with your veterinarian or an animal nutritionist to determine which foods are best for your buddy’s diet.
8 – Make toys for pets: Students who participate in Bark Avenue Foundation’s Humane Education classes show their love for shelter pets by making simple braided toys that we deliver to pets in local shelters. You can do the same thing, whether it’s with your children, or a group of friends – Sip & Braid, anyone? Here is a how to video so you can make your own toys https://www.youtube.com/
7 – Volunteer at a shelter, rescue or animal welfare not for profit: Organizations who serve animals are always in need of more help, and there are countless ways you can give a boost to their mission by donating your time. Love to walk dogs? Volunteer to provide exercise for pups at your local shelter. Have mad writing, editing or photography skills? Help get the word out about pets in need and the programs that provide services in your community – this can often be done from the comfort of your home, through the use of social media. There are a variety of opportunities with BAF or a simple search on a platform like Petfinder will provide a lengthy list of worthy organizations in your community.
6 – Groom/bathe your pets: Whether it’s a professional grooming by a licensed provider, or something as simple as a shower for your Crested Cockatoo, providing a way for your pets to clean their fur or feathers is an important aspect of their overall health and wellness. Brushing teeth, trimming nails and taking the time to examine your pets thoroughly for any signs of skin conditions or potential disease shows you love them and value their health.
5 – Donate to support local animal not for profits: If you are in a position to make a charitable donation to an animal welfare organization, you are helping give the most vulnerable among us a chance for a better life.
4 – Exercise your pets: No different than for people, our pets need to move! Obesity leads to numerous health issues and, in addition to helping prevent potential physical ailments, exercise supports your pets’ mental health as well. Lace up for love!
3 – Microchip and tag your pets: And keep them safely leashed, or in a carrier when taking them outside your home. The heartbreak of a pet going missing is exceeded only by the fear and grief the lost pet themselves experiences. Don’t let this happen to your best friend! Microchips are only as good as the information in the registry they’re linked to, so register your pet’s chip and make sure you update it any time you move or change phone numbers! Make sure you do the same for ID tags your pets wear – having both a microchip and a tag on your pet increases the odds that, should the unthinkable happen, you and your beloved pet will be happily reunited.
2 – Foster and/or adopt a pet: If you have the space in your home, the time in your day and the love in your heart that would allow you to offer them all to a pet currently seeking its forever home, rest assured that the love you give will be returned ten-fold. Foster pet parents help increase the adoptability of shelter animals by providing care and a temporary home during the time of transition from shelter to an adopter’s home. Fostering and adoption also open up spaces for other pets, helping reduce euthanasia rates in shelters. Studies have demonstrated that even short-term fostering reduces cortisol levels and increases rest in pets exiting in shelters. Bonus: Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health! Caring for an animal can help children grow up more emotionally secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a pet can add real joy and unconditional love to your life!
And the Number One way to demonstrate your love for pets everywhere…
1 – Spay/neuter your pets!: It seems fitting and appropriate that February, the month most closely associated with love, is recognized as Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Each year, more than 6 million dogs and cats wind up in animal shelters in the U.S. and roughly half are euthanized because there simply aren’t enough good homes to go around as a result of animals not being spayed/neutered and not being adopted from rescues or shelters. The single most important thing that we can do to show our love for all pets, and to save cats and dogs from the suffering and death caused by overpopulation, is to get our animal companions spayed/neutered and to help trap, neuter and release/return (TNR) community cats. These routine surgeries also provide a host of health benefits for our pets, from helping prevent life-threatening conditions like pyometra and some cancers, to improving temperament.
Help us celebrate World Spay Day on February 25th and, if you haven’t already done so, please spay/neuter your pets and help make this happen for the stray and feral cats in your community.
Bark Avenue Foundation provides monthly free and low-cost spay/neuter clinics, as do other organizations in many communities. Please contact us for more information and show your love for pets!