Happy Valentine's Day, Pet!

 Photo  by Found Animals Foundation /  CC BY-SA

Photo by Found Animals Foundation / CC BY-SA

Are you considering adopting an animal this Valentine’s Day as a gift for that special someone?

Most people opt for the traditional flowers and chocolates as gifts for Valentine’s Day. And those can be great choices. But we have an idea to make this year’s holiday extra special—and healthier than chocolates! With so many critters that still need to be rescued from local shelters, this might be the year for you and your loved one to adopt a new furry family member. Before making a final decision about your Valentine’s Day pet, here are some things to consider:

Forego Making a New Pet a Big Surprise

Before you adopt or rescue an animal, make sure your Valentine is ready for a new pet. If it’s thumbs up, talk with your loved one about what type of pet will suit his or her lifestyle—or your lives together. For example:

  • If you work a lot during the day and don’t have time to train a puppy, rescuing an older pooch may be the answer for you.
  • Or, another choice would be to adopt a cat, since they’re more self-sufficient.
  • If you love the outdoors and want your pet to be a part of that, choose an animal that can keep up with your favorite activities.

And before you take one home for good, the prospective, new pet owner should meet and play with the pet, just to be sure that their personalities will get along.

Pets Aren’t Like a Box of Chocolates

Unlike candy or flowers, caring for a new pet will last for years to come. And the caring goes both ways. Dogs, in particular, bond very quickly with families. A study this year looked into the brains of 10 pooches. The canines were trained to sit still and calmly in an MRI machine—the kind that takes digital pictures of inside the brain. While they were in the machine, scientists studied how the animals’ brains responded to familiar and unfamiliar smells and sounds. Of all the sounds, the dogs prioritized humans out of everything else! Plus, when the animals smelled their owners, it created a reaction in their reward center of the brains. How sweet!

As we discussed recently in our blog post, “Can Pets Improve Your Health?” pets do offer great health benefits for humans. If you choose to rescue or adopt an animal this Valentine’s Day—for yourself or a loved one—go into it fully aware of the benefits and responsibilities you each will have for the other.

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