Be thankful for your pets

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Be thankful for your pets
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By Kim Gilliam

This is the time of year when we give thanks for the good things in life. For many, this includes our furry family members. They bring so much love and joy to our lives with their unconditional love and laughable antics.

There are more tangible reasons to be thankful for our pets as well. They teach children responsibility, have the therapeutic effect of helping to decrease anxiety and overcome loneliness and depression, and they can contribute to our improved wellbeing. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control lists decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels as additional health benefits of owning pets.

They can also benefit our heart health. Per the American Heart Attack Survey, within a year of surviving a coronary event, pet owners had an increased chance for long-term survival. And the National Institutes of Health suggests owning a pet helps protect people from heart disease similar to other therapies such as stress management, relaxation and meditation.

We have plenty of reasons to be thankful for our pets. During this holiday season, here are a few ways we can show them our appreciation.

Quality time

Find new ways to spend time with your pet and they will certainly appreciate it. Set aside dedicated playtime, take them with you on errands, or explore new outdoor places together.

Special treats

Many Thanksgiving favorites can be dangerous for your pet. Instead, why not get them a pet-safe meal like Merrick “Venison Holiday Stew”? Or make homemade pet treats like pumpkin cookies or turkey tots. Don’t encourage begging by feeding directly from the table, but feed them in their bowl away from your dining area.

Increased exercise

Cats benefit from 15-minute play sessions three times a day. For dogs, you can explore the numerous trails and parks in the area, arrange a play date with other pups, visit a dog park, head to a dog gym or consider enrolling them in a dog sport like agility training, fly ball, or dog dancing.

Holiday gifts

Splurge on your pet over the holidays by getting them a gift they would enjoy. How about a comfy new pet bed? Or you can easily make them a toy from things around the house like old T-shirts, cereal boxes, and water bottles.

Safeguard from hazards

While it’s the time for friends, family and holiday feasts, pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey, a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink. Whether it’s cooked bones, chocolate, or poinsettia plants, be sure to educate yourself about the season’s dangerous substances. The Humane Society of the United States has a complete list at www.hsus.org.

So take a moment to be thankful for your pet this holiday season. You will be glad you did, and they are sure to return the love.

The writer is the co-owner of Frolick Dogs, an indoor dog gym in the Eisenhower Valley.

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