Pets as Family Members

By Jae Marciano

“Sorry, man, I can’t go out tonight, I have to spend some time with my dog.”

Sound familiar? Or would you never be caught saying such a thing?

Everyone who owns a pet has a different view of how to best care for them. In fact, there is quite a continuum of care of animals, each with its own unique plan for healthy pethood. Do you treat your pets as family members or better?

On one end of the continuum you may treat your pets as family members with all of the bells and whistles of a seat at the table, clothes for cold nights, doctors appointments, a comfy bed indoors, play dates, yappy hour, and a dinner plate of food that look more like a to go order from a restaurant than pet food. And there is the other end of the continuum when pets are kept outside and fed once a day, and maybe if you get to it, a pat on the head once in awhile.

What’s left is the majority of us who land somewhere in the middle.

How important is the psychological health of your pet? Do you even think about it? If you have an animal with special needs, then you might think about it quite a bit, especially if you own a rescue.

Research shows us that pets have an enormous impact on the psychological health of humans, helping with disorders such as depression and anxiety and even detecting the beginning of seizures, but what about their psychological health?

For instance, dogs behave differently when they have regular exercise, petting, grooming, and other opportunities to show their love and affection. You may find that their devotion to you grows with more attention given them.

It’s very important to spend quality time with your pets and treat them with the same respect that you would a family member, with the same health and care that you would want to have someone give you. Now this doesn’t mean that you have to spoil them or set them a place at the dinner table or indulge them to the point that you forget that they are animals, but I think that many of us take their psychological health for granted.

If you haven’t spent time quality time with your dog in about five days and you had to choose between going out with friends and going to doggy park and a good brushing, what would you do? What I’m really asking isn’t a time management issue because most of us would try and fit in both. Rather I am suggesting that you make them more of a priority in your life and provide the attention they need that leads to better overall behavioral and psychological health.

Pets need more than food, water, and shelter to be healthy. So think about when you last spent some quality time with your pet and, if it’s been a awhile, plan a play date with you; both of you will benefit greatly.

Jae Marciano, a Ramona resident, may be contacted at jaemarc@gmail.com.

   
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