All You Need is Love: National Love Your Pet Day

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“Is that…her footsteps? Do I hear keys? Is that the lock? Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! She’s home! She’s finally home!”

Love comes in many forms, but not all are as pure and unconditional as the love your pet has for you. Think about it. The happiest part of your pet’s day is every moment they get to spend with you. You never have to worry about your four-legged friend judging you—to them, you’re the best, no matter what.

This love has a profound effect on we humans. Petting and playing with cuddly creatures can decrease cortisol, the hormone that produces stress, and prompt our brains to release oxytocin, sometimes referred to as “the love hormone.” Pets fulfill a very basic human need for touch and companionship, which can help promote self-esteem, openness and security, and discourage depression, loneliness and fear. Numerous studies have also indicated that petting animals can improve hypertension, and encourage people to become more active through walking and playing (yes, even cats! That toy isn’t going to get itself).

Pets also allow us to see ourselves in ways that we should see ourselves, but oftentimes need help in doing so. They remind us that we’re needed, and that we deserve to love and be loved unconditionally. They accept us for exactly who we are. They appreciate the little things, like the sounds of our voices or the smiles on our faces. And, they trust us, reminding us that we’re also trustworthy.

For people living through high-stress life events or who have experienced trauma or developmental setbacks, those tail wags and purrs and can be life changing. Animal therapy has been greatly successful, from treating PTSD patients, to rehabilitating the incarcerated, to helping kids read.

But the magic of pets doesn’t begin or end with what they do for us. It’s incredible what our love does for them. In their eyes, it’s sometimes more valuable than food. Across the internet, you can find before and after photos of pet adoption, and the love we give to our pets can truly save their lives.

So on National Love Your Pet Day, give an extra scratch and a treat to your furry (or scaly or feathery) best friend, because they deserve it. Do some cat-cows and down-dogs in their honor. And if you don’t have a pet and have been thinking about getting one, your local animal shelter holds the keys to not just be someone’s hero, but to also let someone be yours.

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