Have a Happy (and Healthy) Valentine’s Day

Magen Stevenson, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist
Pet Poison Helpline

Valentine’s Day is here, and love is in the air. Valentine’s Day is about expressing how much you care to those you love, pets included! Sometimes that expression of love comes in the form of food and treats. And too many treats can lead to obesity in our pets, causing other problems such as osteoarthritis and diabetes. Obesity can also decrease your pet’s quality of life and life span. The good news is your pet’s quality of life and life span can be improved by weight loss and keeping your pet lean and active. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine looked at the life span of over 50,000 dogs. The researchers found that normal-weight dogs had an expected longer life span over time than their overweight counterparts. The estimated increase in lifespan ranged from 6 months to 2.5 years. That is a lot of extra walks, cuddles, and kisses!

Here are some healthy alternatives to spoil your pets this month and all year long.

  • Healthy treats: fresh fruits and vegetables make excellent treats. This can include green beans, carrots, and apples. Just remember, even healthy treats should be given in moderation and avoid toxic foods like onions, garlic, and grapes.
  • Interactive toys: there are endless toys to choose from these days. These include puzzle toys that require your pet to roll the toy over or open a lip to release a treat. Or an automated cat toy for your cat to chase and pounce on. These toys offer mental stimulation as well as promoting activity. This can be applied to mealtime, using toys or feeding mats to hide your pet’s food. This encourages them to problem solve and increases their daily activity.
  • Get outside: a simple walk is a great way to say I love you! Taking your dog on a walk will not only get them active but will also provide mental stimulation. Seeing wildlife, exploring new paths, and other unique experiences will enrich your pet’s life. Walking with your dog provides an excellent way for you to spend quality time with your pet, building a deeper bond. The added mental stimulation can deter destructive or attention-seeking behaviors that can develop from boredom.
  • Consider a dog walker or doggy daycare: a busy schedule may prevent you from giving your pet all the time you wish you could. Consider a dog walker or doggy daycare to help expose your pet to new and exciting experiences. This can be daily or once in a while, depending on your needs and budget.

We all want the best for our pets, and the ways do to that are endless. The easiest thing we can give is our time and affection. In return, we get the best gift of all: unconditional love, day after day. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your pets from all of us Pet Poison Helpline!