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!
When is National Love Your Pet Day 2023?
National Love Your Pet Day is celebrated on February 20. Whether cats, dogs, birds, or even tigers, our furry friends are showered with love and affection on this 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
Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment, is honored on his Feast Day every year on October 4th.
5,000 people attended the first World Animal Day in Berlin, first enacted by cynologist and canine aficionado Heinrich Zimmerman.
National Dog Day was founded in conjunction with other furry friend days such as National Cat Day, National Puppy Day, and National Mutt 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.
National Love Your Pet Day Traditions
National Love Your Pet Day is all about spoiling and pampering your pet. Not that we don’t already do that on a regular basis, but go the extra mile today! Pets should be treated to their favorite snacks, especially the home-made ones with the secret ingredient of love. Toys can be bought for finicky felines or for excited dogs who love to play fetch with a new object.
Another popular tradition on this day is giving pets a ‘spaw treatment.’ Take your pet to a niche pet spa or just give them some TLC at home with back scratches and by clipping their nails. Fashion lines for pets are also huge right now, so go out and get some cute outfits for your pets. Finally, there is no better way to show off your love for your pet than by posting about it on social media!
National Love Your Pet Day By Numbers
3.2 million – the number of animals adopted from shelters each year.
710,000 – the number of animals who are reunited with their owners after entering shelters as strays.
44% – the percentage of households with a dog in the United States.
35% – the percentage of households with a cat in the United States.
27% – the percentage of pet cats that are acquired as strays.
5,000–7,000 – the number of tigers kept as pets in the United States.
36% – the percentage of decreased risk of heart disease if you own a dog.
10% – the percentage of pet owners who are allergic to their pets.
12% – According to a pet marketing agency, this is the percentage of pets who sleep in their owner’s bed, according
94% – the percentage of families with an autistic child who benefited from having a pet.
44% – the percentage of people who would rather cuddle with their pet than their partner.
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