How much do you love your pet?

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Pets are more than great company, they are actually good for our health.

Studies show pets can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and even make us more likely to survive heart attacks.

So, how can we thank them? One four-lettered word- l-o-v-e!

The best way to show your pet love is to pay attention. It's easy to get busy and take our pets health for granted- both physical and mental.

Dr. Simon Fick, of Grand Blanc Veterinary, says, believe it or not, pets can actually get depressed, "You can see a behavior change. When they just don't seek attention or affection as much."

If your pet is less playful, or is acting differently, it's worth a trip to the vet. It may not be depression. But, Fick says, it could be another illness, "One of my dogs, when he was older, slept a lot. And I thought, 'okay, he's getting older,' but he was hypothyroid. It turns out he had thyroid disease. And when I started him on medicine, he lost some weight and he was playful again."

Of course, if I surveyed pets, I'm sure the majority would say the best way to show love is by opening the treat jar.

Fick cautions, however, if you really love your pet, pay attention to their weight, "Over half of all dogs and cats in the United States are overweight."

Extra body weight can put your pet at risk for arthritis and other chronic pain, diabetes, you name it.

It's okay to spoil them with homemade treats occasionally, but just include treats in your pet's daily calorie budget.

"They should get one cup of food per 20 pounds of pet per day, that includes treats," and Dr. Mike Fleming of Cross Veterinary clinic says how much food your pet needs does correlate to their activity level.

Exercise is key to helping pets manage their weight, and they seem to love it more than we humans. Just pay attention to how much activity your pet is getting.

If they're already pretty active, Dr. Fick says, consider this, "Even just changing up the type of play activity. Instead of the same old walk around the block, you can take them to the park. or, get them a new toy. Instead of a ball, a frisbee or a rope toy. Just something to break the monotony."

When you do venture out, make sure your pet is always wearing some type of ID, like a collar. Get them microchipped, if possible. That extra time could mean the difference between lost forever and found.

"They aren't fool-proof, but that chip can reunite you if you keep it up to date," says Susand Kraus, VT, of Cross Veterinary Clinic says

Keep up with your pet's vaccination schedule, and flea, tick and heartworm preventative, to protect them from potentially deadly diseases.

Your pet may not be able to thank you for some of your most loving gestures, but they will notice your attention and time. At the end of the day your attention is what pets treasure most.

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