It’s easy to assume your pet has it all. Who wouldn’t want to just lie around, eat treats and chase a tennis ball? But just because pets appreciate the simple things doesn’t mean their happiness isn’t complicated. They’ve got wants, needs and even fears that all need paying attention to if you want them to truly feel their best.
OUR GUIDE TO PET HAPPINESS
BE AWARE HOW YOUR MOOD AFFECTS THEM
You’re the center of your dog or cat’s world. That means when you’re upset, they pay close attention to your behavior and tone of voice, and often end up feeling unsettled as well. The next time you’re going through it, don’t forget to comfort them —and hey, it will probably comfort you too.
UNDERSTAND THEIR ANIMAL INSTINCTS
Dog dug up your garden? Cat clawed the sofa? These are definitely behaviors to work on — but it’s also just your pet being an animal. Same goes for chasing, barking and chewing. They’re not trying to be destructive or bad when they follow their natural urges, so try to provide outlets for them, like scratching posts and chew toys. And always be understanding and patient as you train.
KNOW (AND RESPECT) THEIR ISSUES
Every pet has hot buttons that can set them off. For example, if they hate loud noises, then late-night parties band practices are both scenarios you might want to avoid. For situations that are harder to escape, like fireworks, you’ll want to protect your pet by creating a safe zone for them and maybe giving them a calming aid.
WELLNESS STARTS WITH WHAT THEY EAT
But it doesn’t stop there. Build a bowl around their unique health needs and rotate the foods you feed them regularly for a balanced diet. And remember, grooming isn’t just about looking good. It also prevents itchy skin, painful matting and injuries from overgrown nails.
MORE EXERCISE, LESS BOREDOM
Your pet may enjoy a nice long nap sometimes, but sleeping all day isn’t healthy for them. The stress from lack of exercise and mental stimulation can actually lead dogs and cats to create their own “jobs” to stay busy — these are often problem behaviors that cause trouble. Making time for regular play and long walks keeps pets fit and happy, plus they get a chance to bond with their favorite person — you.
PETTING IS BETTER THAN HUGGING
To you, a close cuddle is a sign of affection. But to many pets, it can just feel like being trapped or smothered. Your pet loves you and wants to be close but often petting and playing make them much happier.
KEEP THINGS CONSISTENT
Pets hate the confusion and stress of change even more than we do, so think twice before rearranging their schedule or moving their litter box or crate. Any change to a pet’s life should be made slowly and with lots of encouragement.
GIVE THEM SPACE AT MEALTIME
You know how you feel when someone eyes the last slice of pizza? Pets can get territorial about food too — it’s called resource guarding. Make sure everyone has their own food bowl area, with no other pets or people around. If problems persist, time to see a trainer.
TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS
And by business, we mean poop. Pets don’t like going in a messy bathroom any more than you do, so clean out the litterbox regularly and make sure to scoop up the piles in your yard.
WORRIED ABOUT YOUR PET?
Here are some signs your pet is really unhappy and stressed.
- Licking, sometimes so obsessively it causes a sore
- Refusing food
- Ears pinned back
- Turning away or avoiding you
- Shedding, trembling or shaking
- Nonstop meowing
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Inappropriate scratching
- Hiding or seeking extra attention
- Refusing food or reduced appetite
- Over-grooming, sometimes to the point of removing all hair
- Diarrhea or constipation
Remember, when evaluating these symptoms, the best place to start is talking to your vet.