Valentine’s Day is the perfect chance to give your loved ones a little extra love and care. And if one of your most beloved is of the furry, four-legged variety, some extra belly rubs, cuddles and behind-the-ear scratches might be in order!
Australia is one of the biggest pet lovers in the world. According to a 2013 Animal Health Alliance report, we have around 2 million more pets than people, with 63 per cent of Australian households having a pet – and nearly 90 per cent of pet owners regard their dog or cat as part of their family. When it comes to showing your love on Valentine’s Day, a survey by the World Society for the Protection of Animals found that more than one in three pet owners (or 3.4 million Australians) planned to give their animal friend a present for the occasion.
Here are some ideas for ways you can treat your favourite four-legged buddy this Valentine’s Day.
Splurge on the fancy pet treats and give your pet something that will really get their tail wagging. If you’re the baking type and you have some time up your sleeve, making your own pet biscuits can be a great way to ensure you know exactly what’s going into their treats.
Most dogs (and a lot of cats, and even some smaller pets like guinea pigs) love being brushed. It’s like a relaxing massage, as well as being a great way for the two of you to bond. Give your pet some extra grooming attention and just watch the contentment on their little faces.
A homemade meal
There are plenty of recipes available online for meals you can make specifically for cats or dogs. Search for something they might like and take some time to lovingly prepare something special. If your cat usually loves fish-based tinned food, chances are there’s a tasty salmon treat you could make. If your dog always begs for some of your hamburger, there are great doggie varieties you can whip up.
Arrange a play date
If your pet likes spending time with other animals, invite a fellow pet-owning friend around for a playdate. It will be fun for everyone, with plenty of cuddles and games to go around. If your pet is the territorial type, perhaps organise for a scenic group walk or a playdate in the park.
Make your own toy
You can buy a special toy for your pet if you like – but sometimes making your own is more fun! There are plenty of easy things you can make with everyday household items. Try a tug toy for your dog made out of knotted strips of scrap fabric, or a mini tower for your cat out of cardboard boxes.
Blankets and bedding
A new comfortable blanket, pillow or bed might be just what you need to get kitty purring. Snuggle up together and enjoy some quiet time watching an old movie, listening to your favourite album or reading a good book.
Take them on a special outing
Carve out a few hours to spend on an activity your pet loves. Whether they like riding in the car, exploring new parks and gardens, or having a splash at the beach, take them out for some quality bonding time that will show them how much you love them.
Valentine’s safety for pets
If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a human partner as well, just remember to keep your pet safe from these potential hazards that romance can bring:
Hazard 1: Chocolate. Remember that chocolate is toxic for cats and dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, racing pulse and seizures – not fun! The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Don’t give them chocolate as a treat, and make sure you keep your own Valentine’s chocolates out of reach.
Hazard 2: Flowers. Some flowers, such as lilies, can be hazardous to cats. If giving or receiving a bouquet, check the Pet Poisons List to see if you should be keeping it out of the way of your fluffy one. Removing thorns from roses is also a good idea – you don’t want scratches on any curious noses!
Hazard 3: Candles. Flickering flames are , but be careful to keep them out of reach of your pet so they can’t burn themselves.
Hazard 4: Alcohol. Make sure not to leave unfinished wine glasses sitting around on the floor, or counters or tables where the cat can wander around – alcohol is dangerous for animals.
Hazard 5: Wrappings. If you’ve exchanged gifts with your partner or family, throw out the ribbons, bows, tapes and other bits and bobs that could cause your pet to choke if they get curious.
Protect your pet with Medibank pet insurance.