On February 20, we celebrate National Love Your Pet Day, a day to embrace one special trait that makes us human: our love of our pets! There are many things that differentiate humans from the rest of the animal kingdom, but one of the more unusual behaviors is our longstanding tendency to keep other animals as pets. Gallup reports that sixty percent of Americans are current pet owners. It only makes sense to commemorate something that’s so important to so many people, so on February 20, we celebrate our pets with National Love Your Pet Day!
History of National Love Your Pet Day
Pets have been a part of human life for thousands of years. Ever since we’ve made our first steps into civilization, animals have been right there alongside us. And look at those faces! Who could blame us?
Nobody really knows exactly what animal the very first pet was. But, one animal, the wolf, lived alongside early humans for centuries. Even as far back as 12,000 years ago, dogs and cats were buried in their human counterparts’ graves. It seems that even early humans had a deep attachment to their furry friends.
Meanwhile, European royalty began keeping toy dog breeds in the 1600s. And in modern day Spain, pet bird markets were popular among all classes in southern cities such as Seville well into the 1960s.
Most recently, groups such as the American Kennel Club have only increased our love for our pets. With events such as the annual Westminster Dog Show, humankind has only grown its affection for our non-human friends. Pets are ingrained into our own species, and National Love Your Pet Day gives us a reason to celebrate them!
National Love Your Pet Day timeline
- 21st Century
Adoption of National Love Your Pet Day
The unofficial holiday has seen an uptick in recent years as more and more people adopt furry, scaly, and tailed members into their families.
The US recognizes National Dog Day
National Dog Day was founded in conjunction with other furry friend days such as National Cat Day, National Puppy Day, and National Mutt Day.
Germany celebrates World Animal Day
5,000 people attended the first World Animal Day in Berlin, first enacted by cynologist and canine aficionado Heinrich Zimmerman.
Birth of Saint Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, is honored on his Feast Day every year on October 4th.
National Love Your Pet Day FAQs
Is National Love Your Pet Day a nationally recognized holiday?
The banks probably won’t close, but that doesn’t stop you from giving your animals some extra ear scratches, squeaky toys, or special treats.
Who can celebrate National Love Your Pet Day?
The beauty of the holiday is that anybody can celebrate, regardless of whether their animal has fur, scales, or wings. Even if you don’t have a pet of your own, anybody can donate extra tennis balls to the dog park or give their friend’s cat an extra long ear rub.
What are the benefits to celebrating National Love Your Pet Day?
There’s no doubt that it will grow and improve the relationship between you and your furry friend. Spending time with them in any capacity can create a lifelong bond.
National Love Your Pet Day Activities
Show your pet something new
Just like us, our pets love seeing new places! Has your dog ever been to the beach? If not, consider taking a road trip to celebrate National Love Your Pet Day. Change up the location of your fish’s bowl, take your guinea pig on a tour of the house, or take your chameleon on a field trip to the porch to feel the breeze on his face.
Let’s face it: spoiling our pets is a lot of fun. So do it! Birthdays might only come once a year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have more special days with your pets. Celebrate National Love Your Pet Day by bringing home a new treat or toy, whipping up a beloved meal, or simply spend some extra quality time with your pet (we suggest pet-themed movies as an especially nice activity).
Adopt a pet
The ultimate way to celebrate Love Your Pet Day is to get a pet of your own to love! If it’s within your means, consider adopting a pet in need of a home. Explore local organizations that rescue and re-home animals in your area. It’ll change your life in ways you never expected.
Take The Love Your Pet Day Quiz
5 Animal Facts To Make Your Day Less Ruff
Dogs have over 100 million facial expressions!
With ears and eyebrows like that, it’s no wonder they’re so easy to love.
You can change a life by adopting.
If you’re looking to celebrate but don’t have a pet of your own, check in with the ASPCA — where 2.7 million animals are adopted every year.
A Pack of Cats is different than a pack of kittens
A pack of kittens is called a kindle, while a pack of adult cats is called a chowder.
Plan a furry friend party!
Since more than 80 million US households have dogs, with 42% of those households having more than one, you’ll have no trouble making a guest list.
Parrots need love, too.
As the 4th most popular pet and with vocal cords louder than an ambulance, they’ll let you know if they’re not getting attention come February 20.
Why We Love National Love Your Pet Day
They're great listeners
It’s not often that we can find a companion willing to sit through all of our complaints, but our pets never get sick of hearing our grievances. They are also delighted to listen to our favorite anecdotes (like say, that time we adopted our cat) and will never roll their eyes when we repeat a favorite story.
They make you feel good
That warm feeling you get after rolling around with your dog or that sense of peace you feel when you have a cat in your lap? It’s not just a feeling, it’s science. Spending time with animals is a great way to get a boost in feel-good hormones and has even been shown to improve blood pressure.
Just like children, everyone thinks that they’ve got the most adorable pet. It’s easy to see why, though — they’re all pretty darn cute! Lizards, hermit crabs, gerbils, cats, dogs, birds — we all need someone to love, and when that someone is a living thing that needs our care, looks don’t matter, just that they love us back.
National Love Your Pet Day dates