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National Love Your Pet Day 2024: When It Is & How to Celebrate

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

By Kerry-Ann Kerr

woman carrying an adorable dog

Around 90.5 million families across the U.S. own a pet, ranging from dogs and cats to reptiles, birds, fish, rats, and even spiders. Whoever you’re spending this special day with, mark February 20th in your calendar because it’s National Love Your Pet Day!

Pets offer comfort and unconditional love, so it stands to reason that they deserve their very own day to be shown how much we appreciate them. Just being with them is calming and can lower your blood pressure. They’re an integral part of our families, so find out how to celebrate the furry (or not so furry) special pet in your life.

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The History of Love Your Pet Day

Pets have been part of our lives for thousands of years. Of course, they were useful to humans, but the fact our ancestors kept them around and eventually moved them into our homes hints at something deeper than just usefulness. But where did it all start?


A study of dog DNA has shown dog domestication can be traced back approximately 11,000 years, the end of the last Ice Age. This means our “best friend” could very well be our oldest one. It is believed that when they found a baby wolf, humans would take them home and train them.

The oldest known photograph of a dog was taken in the 1850s, titled “Poodle with Bow, on Table” showing humans have enjoyed taking pictures of their favorite animals for a long time.

Long haired Labrador sitting in the park
Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock


Around 8,000 years ago, the dog would still have been valued in the new farming setting humans had created, but cats would also be on the scene now. Thanks to horses, barns, and grain stores that would have been exploited by mice and other small mammals, cats would have been useful to have close by.

black and white tuxedo japanese bobtail cat on orange background
Photo Credit: dien, Shutterstock


In approximately 3000 BC, parrots were domesticated by the Ancient Romans and kept as pets in tropical places like Brazil about 5,000 years ago. It would take several hundred years for them to appear in Europe, however.

blue-headed parrot, also known as the blue-headed pionus
Photo Credit: Swaroop Pixs, Shutterstock


Records of humans keeping mice as pets were documented around the 1700s. They were domesticated in China and Japan, and Europeans imported their “fancy mice” to breed them with local mice. These fancy mice ended up becoming so popular during the Victorian era in England that they had a National Mouse Club in 1895.

Photo Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

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What Do You Do on National Love Your Pet Day?

There are so many different ways to show your pet how much they mean to you. Carve out some time in your busy schedule to spend time with them. How you go about celebrating will obviously depend on what kind of pet you have.

1. Pet Massage

You’re not the only one who loves a relaxing massage—so does your dog or cat! Gently run your hand from the base of their necks to the base of their tails, avoiding the spine. Cuddles and tummy scratches will also be appreciated.

2. Treat Them

Get in your favorite foods. Everyone enjoys a little indulgence day, especially when it’s spent with their best friend. Some restaurants even cater to cats and dogs, so you could even take them out for a meal!

morkie puppy dog being fed food or a treat outdoors
Image Credit: Cavan-Images, Shutterstock

3. Walkies

Get on your most comfortable shoes because if your pet’s favorite thing to do in the whole world is to run around a field and get muddy, that’s what you’re doing today. You could even end the day with a pet massage once you’re both back indoors after your adventure.

4. Something New for the Occasion

Maybe you’ve been meaning to replace that old, tatty dog bed or buy a new scratching post or some plants for your fish tank. Well, now is the time to invest! It’s a meaningful gift they can appreciate long after National Love Your Pet Day is over.

5. Donate to a Pet Charity

Every day may feel like National Love Your Pet Day, so you’re stuck, wondering how you can make this day extra special. Well, you could always spread the love to animals less fortunate and make another animal waiting in their forever home feel appreciated. You could donate your money, time, or supplies to a local pet shelter. Start by finding out from your nearest one what they need most.

Dog with Money_shutterstock_TaraPatta
Image Credit: TaraPatta, shutterstock

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National Love Your Pet Day might be every day in your household, but February 20th is a designated day we can make time for because sometimes life can get in the way. We have jobs, friends, worries, and hobbies that can distract us. But this is one day that will remind us to appreciate that special pet in our lives who loves us.

A pet’s world revolves completely around us. They rely on us for exercise, food, cuddles, and love. And National Love Your Pet Day isn’t all about money. Ultimately, it isn’t about buying them something fancy. Your pet simply wants to spend its day with its favorite person: you!

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Featured Image Credit: Artem Beliaikin, Pexels

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