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Pet Care Tips

June 25, 2020

The concept of an owner “putting their pet first” isn’t a new one. It conjures images like a rumpled bachelor happily giving his dog a bath. The old maid from the Disney classic “The Aristocrats” also comes to mind as she bequeaths her entire fortune to her cats upon her death.

The thing is, owners overprioritizing their pets isn’t just a silly plot device for a movie — it happens in real life, too.

It’s an activity that’s worth observation. What is it that causes humans to put the needs of their pets above everyone around them, including themselves?

The first question that’s worth exploring is simple: why have a pet in the first place?

Of course, there’s more than one answer. For instance, a pet can:

Boost your mood, aid with mental health, and improve cognitive function.

Help to combat stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression — especially with (ESAs)

Encourage physical exercise and activity and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Provide structure and create comforting routines to follow.

These are just a few of the more significant highlights that pets can provide.

The fact that pets have a clear value and function in people’s lives doesn’t necessarily explain the reason that they are consistently overprioritized, even over their owner’s personal needs. For instance, it’s easy to criticize a rich person for spending too much on their animal companion, but what about an underprivileged person?

Many of those without homes, for instance, are well-known for taking better care of their pets than themselves. In fact, studies have shown that at times a homeless pet may be better off than their house-bound compatriots.

What’s the reason for this interesting dichotomy?

One interesting study published in the journal “Society & Animals” offers a possible answer. It found that dogs tended to be given more compassion due to the simple fact that they were seen as dependent and vulnerable.

The study found that, while puppies and babies evoked similar levels of concern and emotion, adult humans did not. And adult dogs? Well, it turns out that they were more like a puppy or baby than a man.

The reason for this seems to revolve around the fact that, even when full-grown, a pet is still viewed as little more than a child. In other words, they’re still given the emotional attention that one might give to a dependent and vulnerable kid. This leads to higher levels of care and prioritization of resources that ensure that a defenseless pet has what it needs.

Whether you’re a millionaire, underprivileged, or — more likely — somewhere in between, though, always putting your dog, cat, bird, or fish first can be an unhealthy habit. That isn’t to say that they should be neglected. On the contrary, it’s important to shower your animal companions with love and attention.

However, it’s also important that you consider yourself, too, by splitting up the time that you do have in order to care for both you and your pet. Below are a few suggestions to help you consider ways that you can balance caring for your pet and yourself at the same time. Each suggestion addresses a topic that should be considered for both your pet and yourself on a regular basis.  If you find yourself looking up an article about whether or not your dog can eat a banana … while you’re chowing down on a Big Mac, it might be time to reevaluate your diet. Back up to square one and consider what you can do to ensure that both you and your pet consistently stay eat a healthy diet. If you make a point of taking your dog for a walk every day, you may think you’re getting all of the exercise that you need as well. However, you may need more than just a walk. If this is the case, it may be time to adopt a more stringent exercise regimen. Use your walks with your pet as a launching point for a more intensive personal workout each day. You may be hyper-aware of the fact that your dog or cat is left alone in your apartment all day. In fact, this probably leads to giving them an abundance of love and attention each time you return home. This is an excellent activity that can help to bolster your pet’s mental health — but it doesn’t consider your own state of mind. Each time you find yourself giving this laser-focused attention to your pet, take some time to jog your own memory to see if you’ve been taking care of your own mental health lately as well.  From giving your dog tick and flea medication to booking a vet visit for your cat, you’re probably well-aware of your pet’s medical needs. But what about yourself? In order to better prioritize your own physicals, dental visits, eye checkups, and so on, get into the habit of scheduling any needed doctor appointments for yourself each and every time you tend to your pet’s health.

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