How to help your pets #4: Desires + Needs



Desires can be healthy, or unhealthy.

All living beings have desires (which are different from their needs). Our dogs might love to go for a walk, for a drive, or have a special toy or dog friend that they love to play with. Our cats might want to be out roaming the night. Our pets might also desire a whole lot more food than is good for them, or more of our human attention than is healthy for them, or good for us! Understanding this leads to us helping our pets better.

We humans have more complex, far-reaching desires. A home, love, kinds of food, a certain type of car, spiritual growth/connection, holidays in lovely places, and things. So many things! In fact, humans have been carefully trained to desire all sorts of new, shiny things on a recurring basis. And a lot of that is unhealthy.

So our pets, and we humans, have both healthy and unhealthy desires. How can we meet the healthy desires, and not give into the unhealthy ones- for our pets, and for ourselves? I always talk about both ends of the leash, both sides of the Human Animal Bond that connects us with our animals, and them with us. The human side of the equation is just as important.

Your desires – healthy and unhealthy, met and unmet, impact your beloved pets in interesting ways. If you have an unhealthy desire for your pets to support you emotionally, then your pets may suffer as a result. If you have healthy desires for human relationships and friendship, social joy, and events that you don’t meet because your pets are overly attached to you, and can’t be happily on their own, then your life will suffer. If you do meet them, your pets reap the rewards!

It’s wise to be aware of all of your desires, and to make sure that your healthy desires are met. This helps you and your pets. It’s even more important that you be aware of any unhealthy desires for substances, foods, unnecessary things, etc, and not go there. This is hard at first, and then so much easier later.

At the same time, you should do everything you can to meet your pet’s healthy desires, while not giving into their sad puppy dog eyes if they are trying to get extra food that is not good for them. Or play with the ball for hours, or any number of things!

Needs must be non-negotiable.

Your pets have needs that must be met for them to be happy and well. These are basic needs and include:

  • Healthy, fresh, species-appropriate foods,
  • Clean water
  • Shelter
  • Space to move through and explore
  • Clean air
  • Healthy social connection and interactions
  • Medical/health care
  • Safety
  • And Love!

Of course, you, the human, have all of the same basic needs. Any time fundamental basic needs are not met, then the humans and the animals will suffer stress and anxiety – and eventually this will cause ill health, reduced longevity, and suffering at both ends of the leash.

Basic needs must be the absolute priority – but many people will make sure that their pets are cared for in this way before the humans – and in many cases, humans will neglect themselves to care for their animals. This is not healthy for anyone. You need to care fo all the beings in your family equally, and make sure that no one gets ‘left out’.

Once all of these basic needs are met, you (the human) need to consider how to meet your more complex needs (which will invariably benefit your beloved pets strongly). These include self-actualisation and self-esteem, and extend to utilities, appliances, income, internet, access to health support, spiritual community/support and growth, and recreation.

There may be short-term (food, drink, home, health) and long-term needs (relationships, hobbies/interests, education, career, family), or social/group needs.

Beyond this you may have desires for luxury items. Don’t confuse these with needs!

And all of this will be affected by the conditions you live in, the place you are, your religious beliefs, customs of your society, the job you work, the country you are in, the income you earn, age, your interests/predilections, level of education and gender.

The more you can understand, meet, and manage your needs and desires in a healthy way, the happier your pets (and you) will be!

If you’d like to read more blog articles like this, you can click through to our  #1 + #2 + #3 editions of How To Help Your Pets with Dr. Ed

And here’s where you can click through to watch this week’s video where I talk live about these themes from a bit of a different angle.

And- if you haven’t yet come along to Dr Ed’s free Pet Silent Pain Masterclass, you can register for that at this link.