Face it, we spoil our pets terribly. Not surprisingly, people value their pets more than material objects and even more than people.
Our obsession with our animal family members resulted in the global pet industry surpassing USD $100 billion for the first time in 2020. This number is projected to reach over $300 billion by 2028. (Source: American Pet Products Association)
Spoiling your pets doesn’t have to break the bank. After all, they just want quality time with us, our attention, and our love. So here are some ways you can show your love without spending a fortune!
1. Give Them A Window Seat
Pets get bored when we’re at work for hours a day. Giving a dog a bench or having a platform for a cat provides them with a view of the outside world while you are away.
Dogs love watching out the window at people and cars going by while cats are stimulated constantly with outdoor movement.
Hanging a bird feeder right outside the window will provide your cat will countless hours of entertainment watching the birds. Be sure to install the feeder high enough to stop feral cats or squirrels from access to it.
2. Watch A Documentary Together
Like humans, some pets are boob tube addicts. If your pet likes watching television, a perfect evening can be spent cuddled on the couch watching an animal or wildlife documentary.
If your pet is truly a TV junkie, leaving the television on while you’re at work might also keep him entertained for hours while you’re away.
3. Check Out Some New Pet Toys
A quick trip to a local pet store might give you some new ideas for interactive pet toys that can occupy them while you’re away or give you innovative ideas on toys with which both of you can enjoy.
Hide treats in puzzle toys for hours of amusement as your pet tries to figure out how to get food out. The classic Kong was invented more than 40 years ago and continues to please to this day. Likewise, treat balls provide endless entertainment where pets swat, kick and nudge to get their favorite ball to dispense treats.
The biggest cause of a cats’ play drive is their prey drive. Toys like balls or feathers suspended in midair usually result in cats doing acrobatic jumps in their attempts to swat it.
4. Make Some Homemade Pet Treats
Instead of buying off the shelf, bake your pet some homemade treats. In 2007. there were some reports of treats of inferior quality imported from China containing melamine, salmonella, and other contaminants. This led to hundreds of dog fatalities and thousands more sick.
Dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs need to avoid ingredients that trigger these reactions. The common causes of allergies are beef, soy, corn, dairy, wheat, fish, eggs, and pork.
Baking homemade pet treats means you’ll know precisely what ingredients are used and can ensure that they are safe and healthy for your pet.
Apples, carrots, sweet potato, oatmeal, and pumpkin are examples of healthy ingredients suitable for pet treats.
5. Upgrade Their Bed
Over years of use, beds can get worn out and stop providing sufficient cushioning for their comfort. This is especially important if you have a senior pet that might have sore joints or arthritis.
Orthopedic beds made of high-density foam conform to your pet’s shape and offer some support for those aches and pains. Cooling and heating pads also help regulate your pet’s temperature if they sleep in cold or hot climates.
The shape of the bed depends on your pet’s favored sleeping position. For example, pets that like to sprawl on their backs or spread out might do better with a mattress or a mat.
Most cats and some dogs prefer to sleep curled up. This goes back to their primal instinct of tucking in their bodies to preserve warmth and protect their vulnerable bellies from predators. Circular dog beds with raised sides work best with this kind of sleeper.
Ensure that the bed is machine washable or has a waterproof cover, especially if you have older, potentially incontinent dogs or prolific droolers.
Switching out their beds might be confusing for some pets. They might have used their beds for years and suddenly, their old beds are gone and a strange new thing is in its place!
To help them with the transition, lay a blanket or old t-shirt in their beds for several weeks, and when the time comes to switch, place the blanket on the new bed. This will show them where they need to be and provide comfort and familiarity to help them with the potentially stressful switch. Treat generously and shower plenty of praise as they check out and use their new beds.
6. Go On A Long Hike
What better way to spend quality time than to go on a long walk in nature? Not only will your pup benefit, but you will too.
To increase the intensity of the hike, have your dog carry its supplies like water, food, and a bowl. Dog backpacks are widely available and range from small capacities to roomy, 25-liter capacity packs meant for large dogs. The amount your dog carries depends on age, health, and other conditions, be sure to check with your veterinarian if you are unsure about the weight of the load.
When picking a pack, ensure that the pack’s fit should be snug around the chest, and the bags on the sides do not restrict your dog’s movement. Most backpacks are adjustable so that you can tweak the fit for your dog’s size, girth, and comfort.
Prepare your dog for a longer hike by having him wear an unweighted pack around the house to get used to the idea. Then go on a short walk with some weight, distributing the load evenly across both bags so that your dog doesn’t end up unbalanced from any unevenly distributed weight.
Plan your trail carefully and start small. If you and your dog are in good shape, a 2-hour hike is a good start to see how things work out.
Check for any regulations on bringing dogs to your intended trail. For example, some national parks and forests have restrictions on dogs due to ecological and wildlife disruption reasons, while others have leash laws in place.