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February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day

February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day

Did you know that February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day? During the COVID-19 pandemic, pet ownership has increased. As lockdowns and quarantine led to more time at home, many people who wanted to have a pet realized they were finally in a position where they had the time and energy available that a pet requires. For many, these pets have played a critical role in reducing feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loneliness during these tough months of social distancing and decreased in-person contact with friends and family due to COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are many documented health benefits associated with owning a pet, including decreased levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Some pets offer owners additional motivation to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. For example, dogs require daily walks, an opportunity to regularly exercise and safely socialize with other dog owners. There are numerous mental health benefits to pet ownership as well. The bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.

To the great relief of pet owners, the CDC confirmed there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. However, it’s important to continue to practice good hygiene while enjoying the extra time at home with your pets. Always wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Regularly clean and disinfect pet habitats and supplies, preferably outside of your home and not in your kitchen or bathroom sink. Be sure to wear a face covering while walking your pet, and make sure to maintain a safe social distance when greeting other pet owners on your walks.

Your Employee Assistance Program is Here to Help

Your Employee Assistance Program is a great resource for pet recommendations including finding a vet, groomer, or doggy day care. For any additional questions, contact your Component EAP specialist or DHS Work-Life Specialist at worklife@hq.dhs.gov.

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