By Shirley Roberts
Any day is a good day to celebrate pets, but April 11th is the “official” day that is marked to bring attention to the special joys of owning one. Founded in 2006 by Pet and Family Lifestyle Expert, Colleen Paige, its purpose is to show appreciation for all pets worldwide. It encourages people to love their pets and to adopt a pet in need of a home. The day advocates against cruelty and violence and highlights the importance of providing a home for unwanted pets. “Don’t shop! Adopt!” has become the slogan for National Pet Day. www.wincalendar.com/ca/Pet-Day
According to a recent national survey conducted by Narrative Research on behalf of Pet Valu, one-third of Canadian pet owners adopted a pet during the pandemic. Although cats and dogs are the most popular pets welcomed into homes, rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs, fish and hamsters are celebrated too. Pets and their humans generally have a special bond and research points to the health and mental health benefits that come with pet ownership. Some studies have shown that pets contribute to heart health by lowering cortisol (stress hormone), cholesterol and blood pressure.
In addition, pets have been incorporated into effective therapeutic activities, supporting seniors, people with cognitive and physical disabilities, and children and teens with emotional challenges. Interactions with dogs in senior living facilities have led to improvements in physical health, lowered anxiety and aggression. Social and communication behaviours in children with autism spectrum disorders have also improved with pet therapy. Multiple studies have shown that there is a decline in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms following interventions with animals.
Although there are many benefits to pet ownership, they also come with responsibilities. It is important that pets get plenty of food, water, exercise, and stimulation. Some cats and dogs require grooming and all need toys and accessories (collars, leads, crates, bedding). Pets also need veterinary care and this is often underestimated by new owners.
The overall financial commitment to owning a pet can be large. The average annual cost of owning a cat in Canada is approximately $3700.00 while that of a dog can be up to $3500.00.
Not only do owners have to make sure that their pet is well cared for, but they also need to familiarize themselves with local laws that regulate pet ownership. The City of Toronto requires all dogs and cats to have a license which is renewed annually. https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/animals-pets/pet-licensing/pet-licensing-fees/
Pet owners need to ensure that their pets are not causing a nuisance or disturbance to others. This means not letting them bark excessively, chase vehicles, or behave aggressively to other dogs or people. It is considered good etiquette to ensure that your pet does not soil other
people’s property. Spaying and neutering your animal is also highly recommended to prevent unwanted offspring.
Pets are a big responsibility but give so much back to their owners. National Pet Day gives us the chance to show our gratitude. You can celebrate this day by giving a donation to an animal rescue service, fostering or adopting a pet or donating food or toys to a shelter. If you own a pet, take them to their favorite place, give them an extra special treat but most important, spend time with them: walking, exercising, teaching a new trick. Your pet will appreciate it and so will you.
Webinar: Sunnybrook Speaker Series: Pet Therapy: Animals as Healers, Dr. John Aoun
Nicole Cosgrove, Pet Keen Canada: Pet Ownership Statistics to Know in 2022