Many couples have probably read or at least heard of the book The Five Love Languages, which details the five ways people express or receive love. We know that your relationship with your pet is also important to you, so our Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services team wants to share with you the five pet love languages that will help ensure your pet knows how much you love them.
Pet love language #1: Mental and physical exercise
Some pets crave long walks, runs, or hikes and live to solve food-stuffed puzzle toys, while others are content to meander around the house or yard for a few minutes and then get comfy on the couch again. If your pet loves being physically active, use these ideas to spice up your exercise routine:
- Learn a dog sport together — Take this American Kennel Club quiz to determine which sport is best for your dog, or try out flyball, lure coursing, agility, freestyle, dock diving, tracking, herding, earth dog trials, frisbee, or a myriad of other dog sports.
- Change the scenery — Take a new route around the neighborhood, drive to a different location for your walk, or meet a friend and their dog at a new park.
- Find active cat toys — Follow these guidelines from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine to find your cat’s toy prey preference (i.e., bird-like, bug-like, or mouse-like toys) and periodically rotate the toy selection to keep them interested. Encourage your cat to exercise by moving a laser pointer, rolling a ball, wiggling a feather wand, or tossing a milk cap.
Sometimes, we overlook mental stimulation for our pets, but that is another big piece of keeping them happy and feeling loved. Give your pet a chance to exercise their brains by:
- Using puzzle toys — Many different puzzle toys are available, but the common theme is requiring your dog to roll, paw, lick, shake, or nibble the toy to get to the tasty treat or dog food hidden inside. This not only builds problem-solving skills but also keeps your dog entertained.
- Hunting for food — Hide piles of food or treats around the house, use a puzzle toy to feed your dog all their meals, or use an indoor hunting feeder for cats.
- Visual stimulation — Pets may enjoy keeping an eye on the outside world from a window perch, or watching videos of fish, birds, rodents, insects, or other animals.
Pet love language #2: Good health
Show your pet some love by ensuring they are in the best of health. This means faithfully administering their monthly parasite preventives and keeping all veterinarian-recommended appointments for vaccinations and health screenings. As your pet ages, take advantage of routine blood work to catch any abnormalities before they cause clinical signs, and monitor your pet closely for joint pain or other age-related conditions. If your family veterinarian feels your pet could benefit from specialty or emergency care to maintain or regain their health, trust our AIMSS team to provide state-of-the art care at any time of the day or night.
Pet love language #3: Space for themselves
A pet can be a social-butterfly but still want a place where they can relax, and introverted pets definitely like a safe, comfortable, quiet space to call their own. Provide your pet with a variety of resting options in frequently trafficked and out-of-the-way locations, so they can relax where the mood suits them. Teach kids to respect your pet’s bed, crate, and other rest areas, so that your pet knows they have a safe place where they won’t be disturbed by well-meaning—but perhaps unwanted—snuggles or petting. Many cats enjoy spending time up high, so consider making or buying a cat perch or creating a resting spot on top of a cabinet or other tall furniture.
Pet love language #4: Quality time with their owners
Showing your pets your love can be as simple as taking them with you in the car while you run errands, snuggling with them on the couch, letting them sleep in your room at night, or allowing them to join you in your home-office. Some attention-craving pets will want to follow you everywhere—including the bathroom—so you may need to get used to a furry shadow. Playing, exercising, or mastering new tricks together can also satisfy your pet’s need for attention.
Pet love language #5: Weight control
Many pet owners equate giving their pet extra food and treats with showing them love, but too many calories can cause excess weight gain, and lead to joint, metabolic, endocrine and cardiovascular problems. A 2018 Association for Pet Obesity Prevention survey revealed that a shocking 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the U.S. were either overweight or obese. To determine if your pet is a healthy weight, use this World Small Animal Veterinary Association body condition score chart for dogs and cats—if you discover your pet needs to lose weight, work with your family veterinarian or our AIMSS team to develop a weight management plan. To cut down on treat calories, break treats into smaller pieces, or use dog food, raw green beans, carrot sticks, or seedless apple slices in place of higher calorie treats. If you put your pet’s treats or food in a puzzle toy or use them for training, ensure that you compensate for those calories by feeding your dog fewer calories at meals.
Now you have learned the five pet love languages, it is time to put them into action. As part of showing your pet how much you love them, give AIMSS a call if you have any questions or concerns about their weight or overall health.