Text: Tarek Abu Sham
Traditional valentine's gifts are, for obvious reasons, inappropriate for pets, but this doesn't mean that they have to miss out on all the fun. For example, cats may love to nibble on plants and flowers, but unless it's catnip grass, it may be harmful to them. Likewise, chocolate can be toxic to most animals, and with aggressive players, stuffed animals may not make it more than a few minutes. So, here are a few creative ways to celebrate with your pet for this Valentine's Day.
Dogs are probably the easiest to shop for, with almost endless choices at your local pet store and boutique bakeries catering to pets only. If you want to do something more personal, you can even bake treats for them at home. Here's a link to one of many recipes available online: https://bestfriends.org/stories/features/three-healthy-holiday-treats-your-dog-and-all-his-friends-will-love
When picking treats from the pet store, there are a few things to consider. In general, although pig ears and bully sticks may be tasty, there is a chance of your pet picking up salmonella from the processing of raw animal parts. Rawhides are also tasty, but if eaten too quickly or in large amounts, they can be a risk for an intestinal obstruction, so make sure to monitor your pet while eating. Make sure to check the country source of the treats as well. Ones that are made domestically may be less likely to be problematic.
Go on a date
What's your pet's favourite thing to do? Go for a swim? Go for a hike? Maybe they just really like car rides... to anywhere. An outing can be a great way to bond with your pet. If the weather is good, a long walk on the beach or a hike in nature may be the best way to enjoy the afternoon with your furry friend. If you live somewhere cold in February, other options are available for indoor fun.
Look for local dog-friendly restaurants and pubs in your area if you're looking for a new dining experience. Even taking a trip to a dog-friendly store could be a big outing for your canine companion. Also, indoor agility courses may be a good change of pace for your energetic dog.
"A dog will teach you unconditional love. if you can have that in your life, things won't be too bad." - Robert Wagner
Avoid packaging, wrapping, bows, etc., as they are just another thing for your pet to accidentally ingest. Most pet stores will have Valentine's-themed toys and clothing after Christmas, but it may be the right time to buy something new and different for your pet. Toys that encourage playtime with your pet will help you bond more with them. Keeping your pet's brain active is just as important as keeping their body active.
A new cat tree or window perch may bring joy to your feline friend. However, not every cat loves catnip. In fact, most kittens won't react to it until they are around six months old. Some felines may even become overly excited or, in rare cases, mildly aggressive. Most pet stores will have a range of toys, clothes, and accessories available for felines.
Thankfully with endless streaming entertainment online, a snuggly night on the couch watching your favourite pet-themed movies is a cheap and relaxing night in. Netflix or Amazon Prime also have videos of wildlife such as birds and squirrels that you can leave playing to keep your pet entertained while you are at work.
While there are many options for your pet, the best choices are ones that your pet and you will enjoy together. So, whether it's a hike or a snuggly night in, your pet will be happy you lavished love on to them this Valentine's Day.