February is for lovers. And who deserves more of your love than your pet? Most of us have a deep, devoted and undying love for our pets. Here are some ways to show love to your pet that you might not have considered or may be unconventional.


1. Clean up their diet

Just as with people, pets are what they eat. In other words, quality matters when it comes to diet. You wouldn’t want to eat the same cereal every day, would you? That cereal that’s filled with ingredients you can’t pronounce and sugar, and goodness knows what else is in there? After years of research into canine nutrition, it’s my opinion that species-appropriate raw food is the best diet for cats and dogs, especially if they are experiencing health issues like scratching or allergies.

Second best food would be a high-quality dry kibble or canned. Both types of high-quality food can be found at most small independent high-end pet stores like Pupologie in Encinitas, Dirty Dogs in Solana Beach or Carlsbad, Pet Nutrition Center in Carlsbad, Dexter’s Deli or Earthwise Pet in Carlsbad. Their employees are very knowledgeable and can help you choose an appropriate food for your pet.  Pick a food by its ingredients (make sure you know what’s in it and there are no fillers or unknowns). Check out the documentary Pet Fooled (https://truthaboutpetfood.com/pet-fooled/) for incredible insight into pet food manufacturing. This is why I call kibble “Cancer in a Bag”. My favorite raw food manufacturer is www.Tigertailfoods.com, an Encinitas company that sources ingredients locally.


Ways to Show Your Pet Love in February

2. Bedding matters

What does your pet sleep on? Since pets spend so much time sleeping, they deserve the ultimate in comfort. Does your pet like to snuggle under things (tends to run cool)? If so, a bed with high sides, called a bolster bed, or even an igloo shape might be best, with blankets to dig under. Or does your pet sprawl out when he sleeps (runs hot)? Then perhaps a rectangular flat mat with no sides would be best. If your pet is senior, check out the many options including Tempurpedic or orthopedic – extra cushioned beds. If he runs hot, try a cooling mat.


to Show Your Pet Love in February

3. Mental stimulation games

Since most pets don’t have jobs, they need mental stimulation to busy their minds for at least a few minutes daily. Otherwise, they get bored, and boredom leads to destructive tendencies like chewing and barking inappropriately. For mental excitement, go for long walks (or hire us – contact gina@clawsandpawspetsitting.com) to walk them, put treats or kibble into a snuffle mat, lick mat, puzzle feeder or food ball. Or give a filled Kong or softer raw chew like chicken or turkey necks, wings or feet (can be bought at those high-end pet food stores mentioned above, or www.tigertailfoods.com).


4. Attention to details

How often do you clean your pets’ ears, teeth, cut nails? This should be regular maintenance (at least 1x/month), but many of us get lazy or forget these details. Also, when you’re cuddling with your pet on the couch, make sure you are regularly petting them with intention – checking all over their body for any new lumps, bumps, bald patches, cysts, skin irritations, etc. If these are not addressed in a timely manner, they sometimes can develop into a bigger problem later. If you find something and aren’t sure what it is, a vet visit is in order. Regular vet checkups can add years to your pet’s life.

5. Friends & socialization

Most dogs are especially social and like to make friends. If they have a few favorite dogs in the neighborhood, make a regular playdate safely in their yards, or at the dog park. Also, regular walks and field trips are incredibly enriching for dogs. They spend lots of brainpower and energy smelling all the wonderful smells out there. Cats also love walks and can be safely walked with a harness or even put in a pet stroller (strollers are great for older pets who can’t walk far, too). If you don’t have time or can’t walk your pet, feel free to contact gina@pawsandclawspetsitting.com to set up their social calendar!

All these tips are not only nice for your pet, but necessary. Show your pet some love this month and every week. Because the best way to show them love is with your time and attention.