Does Your Dog or Cat Feel Loved?
Our pets show us their love every day in so many ways! They do the excited dance when we walk in the door, get snuggly with us on the couch, and look up at us with those adoring eyes. So, what can we do to make sure they know how much we appreciate their unconditional love?
Make Them Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Make it a special one for your pet by whipping up a tasty dish they’ll devour. Scrambled eggs are a great option for dogs as long as they’re fully cooked. Or how about some cut up apples dipped in peanut butter? Cats may enjoy a chopped up hardboiled egg mixed with tuna fish or an omelet with a dash of cottage cheese.
Does your dog like to lean against your legs? That’s their way of giving you a hug. And you can “hug” them right back by gently leaning on them. Lean against them when they’re calm and seem receptive to physical contact. Of course, you should always follow your dog’s lead. If they’re not enjoying the moment, pull back and let them go on their way.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to dislike hugs. Hugging can make them feel trapped and threatened. If your dog dislikes hugs, leaning against them is a great alternative.
[Intentionally] Bump Heads
Head bumping with your cat sounds like a strange thing to do, but it’s something they do to us all the time to show affection. Cats have glands in their foreheads that secrete pheromones, so those head bumps are transferring their scent and marking you as their very own.
This is also why your cat brushes up against your legs. They want to make sure everyone knows you belong to them.
Catch Their Gaze
You can look into your pet’s eyes just like they do to you. It’s another sort of “hug” you can share together.
Just keep in mind some pets, particularly dogs, may interpret direct eye contact as threatening. You can try looking slightly to the side of their eyes with a soft gaze that says, “I love you.”
Chat Them Up
Other than their names and the commands they’ve learned, your pet probably doesn’t understand any other words when you talk to them. But your furry friend can still appreciate the attention you’re giving them during a chat.
Talking with your pet is a bonding experience that can also be good for your own mental health. What’s better than talking things out with someone who won’t disagree with a thing you say?
Pets may not understand most of your words, but they do understand the tone of your voice. Show your love for your pet by praising them in sweet tones accompanied by a good scratch or belly rub, if that’s something your pet is into. You can also get down on their level when you talk to them to make them feel the love even more.
Learn Their Language
Cats and dogs can tell us a lot about how they’re feeling through their body language. By understanding this communication, you can better respond to their needs and help them feel loved.
How to Read Cat Body Language
Your cat’s tail, ears, and body posture can give you a good sense of their current mood.
- Cats with a normal posture, relaxed tail, and neutral ears are probably pretty content.
- If their ears are flat, tail tucked in, and body posture low, they’re likely scared of something. They’re trying to hide by looking smaller. This stance also allows them to spring away quickly if they want to escape.
- Cats with a rigid tail, stiff ears, and an arched back are angry. This posture helps them look bigger to intimidate whatever is upsetting them.
If your cat looks angry or upset, you may need to intervene to avoid aggressive and potentially harmful behaviors, like lunging, clawing, or biting. You can try distracting your cat or carefully removing them from the situation if possible.
Body orientation is important for cats too. Cats who are looking right at you will probably welcome your attention. Cats who are facing away may be feeling shy or unsure. You can engage with them but do so slowly, or they’ll likely dart away. Cats may also expose their tummies as a show of trust but, unlike dogs, they usually don’t enjoy a belly rub. If you touch their bellies, they may close up on your hand like a Venus fly trap. Ouch!
How to Read Dog Body Language
Like cats, dogs reveal a lot about their emotional state through their tails, ears, and body posture.
- Dogs with a normal stance, relaxed tail, and neutral ears are likely feeling comfortable and confident.
- If something catches a dog’s interest, like the sound of a scampering squirrel or the squeak of a door opening, they may lean forward, prick up their ears, and flick their tail. They’re alert and ready to check it out.
- Dogs with a stiff posture, raised tail, and rigid ears are also alert but may be anxious about whatever they’re sensing.
If a dog is feeling anxious or threatened, they may start showing aggressive behaviors that can progress from baring teeth and growling to lunging and biting. This can lead to a dangerous encounter, so it’s important that you carefully diffuse the situation.
Turn Snacks Into Gifts
Who doesn’t love a present? Surprise your pet with a new toy from the store are make one from everyday items around the house. DIY pet toys can be as simple as 1, 2, 3:
- Cut treat-sized holes in a paper towel tube.
- Put in some of their favorite treats.
- Fold up the ends and let your pet work to get the treats out.
Be sure whatever toy you offer your pet is sturdy and safe. You should also avoid wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows since your pet could choke on or swallow them.
Go on Adventures
Go somewhere new with your dog. For instance, explore a new neighborhood, park, or hiking trail. If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can take them to a pet store to walk around.
If your cat isn’t a total homebody, you can take them to a friend’s house as long as they’ll be safe and welcomed there. Remember to properly restrain or crate your pet in the car to make sure they don’t distract the driver or get thrown around in case of an accident.
Many cats wear the same size harness as a small dog. If your cat shows an interest in the outdoors, try taking them for a walk on a leash attached to a harness.
Make Their Health a Priority
Probably the best way to show your pet you love them is by doing what you can to help keep them healthy.
- Feed them a nutritious diet. Talk to your veterinarian if you need recommendations for what and how much to feed your pet.
- Give them a daily dose of exercise. How much exercise does a dog need every day? It depends on the size and age of the dog. Same goes with cats. In any case, daily activity will help keep them in shape physically and stave off boredom.
- Groom them when needed. Brush your dog regularly and give them a bath every few weeks. You should also trim hairs around the eyes, ears, and bottom, and clip their nails. What about cat grooming? Cats are adept at self-grooming, but they may need some help with their coat and nails now and then.
- Brush their teeth. Regular brushing, along with a professional cleaning, can prevent loss of teeth and infections, which can spread to other parts of the body.
- Visit the veterinarian. A yearly check-up allows your veterinarian to track their health and detect conditions early when the prognosis is better for your pet.
Additionally, you may want to consider pet insurance, which can help you give your best friend the very best medical care possible. Learn about our plans.