People and pets have a special kind of friendship. Catherine Dunn explores how a pet can change your life, and how we can all try to be better pals to our animal friends.

Today is National Love Your Pet Day, which I think is probably the best “national” day of the year. I mean who doesn’t love animals? They’re loyal, protective and your best friend; loving a pet can change your life.

I have had several pets, including fish, gerbils, a rat and a dog. Unfortunately, they all died. And I learned something about myself and about animals from each and every one of them. My beloved dog, Ben dying was the last straw and I thought I’d never go through that pain again.

If, like me, you find you don’t have the space in your life to have a pet, there are so many ways that you can still help and love the animals on our planet.

I now don’t have pets myself, but my boyfriend’s family have two dogs. Well, they had two dogs. The eldest, George, died at the end of last year. Having been with my boyfriend for over seven years, I took his dogs into my heart and grieved for George’s passing. The grief you feel over a dying pet can be dismissed by those who’ve never had a connection with an animal but it is just as real as any other grief. It is gut wrenching and heart breaking; this is how much a pet can change your life.

pet can change your life

How loving a pet can change your life

As much as losing a pet is hard, the pain is worth it as having an animal in your life is greatly beneficial. Pets can change your life for the better: health benefits (ward off depression); physical benefits (walking your dog will increase your exercise levels); and emotional benefits (enhances social skills, which is particularly good for young children).

Not to mention the benefit for the animal. You can provide a loving and nurturing home, and give an animal a family. Animals deserve our respect, help and love. That being said, having a pet is hard work. It is expensive and time-consuming. Don’t get a pet if you are not committed to putting its needs above your own, as the animal will suffer and they deserve better.

If, like me, you find you don’t have the space in your life to have a pet, there are so many ways that you can still help and love the animals on our planet:

Sponsor a pet

There are so many companies that offer you the chance to sponsor a pet, particularly dogs and cats. Spending a few pounds a month will ensure your sponsored pet will be fed and receive medication and be looked after. You will likely receive updates, and possibly even a cuddly toy. Who doesn’t love a cuddly toy?

Protect endangered species

My boyfriend surprised me with two amazing gifts: the adoption of a tiger and a snow leopard. The way our wild animals are being wiped off the planet is alarming, terrifying and disgusting. We will never meet these animals but if a small monthly donation can help others to fight off poachers and protect these beautiful creatures, then it is the least that we can provide.

pet can change your life

Volunteer at an animal shelter

If you want to be more hands on with animals, it is possible to volunteer at animal shelters. You will get the chance to personally be involved with the animals’ welfare and make a real difference to their lives.

Become a vegan/vegetarian

How would this help? Think about how many thousands of animals are slaughtered every day so we can eat them. How many of these could be saved if we decided to become a vegan or a vegetarian? Now, I’m not going to preach as I am a meat eater but my sister isn’t and I can see both sides of the argument. But even having one meat-free day a week can make a difference. You may not think of cows, pigs and sheep as pets and wonder why I’ve included them but they’re still animals. Animals that deserve our love, respect and compassion. Don’t they deserve a chance to have a normal, healthy life just like us? Take a leaf out of Scarlett’s book and see what being a vegan is really like.

pet can change your life

Refuse to watch dolphin shows

You may have a dream to swim with dolphins or you may have been to Seaworld and watched the animal shows. To provide the “entertainment” for these shows, whales and mammals are torn from their families in the wild and forced to spend their lives in captivity. They are helpless, alone and suffering. How can you help? Don’t watch these shows. Don’t swim with dolphins. Period.

pet can change your life

Never buy fur or leather

Faux fur is warm, fashionable and can jazz up a winter jacket. It looks the same as the real thing but no poor animal was skinned alive making it. Do you buy real fur and leather? Imagine living in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A pretty terrifying idea, right? That’s what these animals go through. Every day. Still want that fur coat?

Our pets are our best mates – they change our lives. Let's be kinder to them <3 Click to Tweet

If you do have a pet, please take some time today to give them a treat, show them how much you love them and always treat them with respect and dignity. Remember how loving a pet can change your life – they are your best friend and love you unconditionally. Make sure they know the same about you.

Join our tribe

We promise to pop a whole host of good stuff into your inbox every Wednesday to brighten up your week. Can't say fairer than that now can we?

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.