February is the month of love, so it’s fitting that it’s also Responsible Pet Owners Month. Because what better way is there to show your pet that you love them than by giving them the best life possible? Being a responsible pet parent goes beyond just showing them affection – it’s everything you do to ensure they live a long and happy life.
Feeding your pet a healthy, balanced diet is step one on the path to being a responsible pet parent. If your pet isn’t already eating Freshpet, it's time to make the switch. Each of our Freshpet recipes is made with fresh, whole ingredients that are gently cooked without preservatives. Our ingredients are thoughtfully sourced and delivered daily to our waste-free, wind-powered Kitchens in Bethlehem, PA. This allows us to steam-cook them while they’re fresh to lock in vital nutrients, all done according to FDA and USDA standards.
Pet-proofing your home isn’t just necessary when you adopt a new puppy or kitten. Pets of any age are curious creatures that can get into trouble if potential hazards are left in the open. Start by walking through your house and looking for any items that could be dangerous if your pet got into them – think cleaning products, small decorative items, wires, plants, and such. After you’re done, find ways to remove the risk, such as storing cleaning products inside cupboards, or decide if certain items need to be removed from the house completely. If you find yourself in need of some different plants after this process, take a look at our list of pet-safe options.
Pets, especially cats, are very good at hiding signs that they aren’t feeling well. Unfortunately, this means that many illnesses can go unnoticed until they become serious. To ensure any issues are caught early, it’s important to schedule regular checkups with your vet. Most vets recommend pets are brought in for an annual wellness exam, where they can perform a physical examination and ask you questions about your pet’s diet (like what natural dog food they're eating), fitness, and general health. If being brought to the vet is a source of stress for your pet, you can always talk to your clinic about the option of a home visit.
If your pet wears a collar with an ID tag, regularly check to make sure that the details are correct and legible. Tags can wear down over time or become lost, which can make it harder for you to be reunited with your pet if they get lost. The best way to avoid this is to swap the ID tag for a microchip. Microchips are inexpensive, don’t wear down over time, and increase the chance of finding your pet if it gets lost. Dogs with microchips were reunited with their owners 52.2% of the time, compared with 21.9% when not microchipped. For cats, these numbers are even more drastic, with 38.5% of microchipped cats successfully returning home, but only 1.8% of cats without microchips!
Traditionally, our pets were bred to do specific jobs such as hunting and guarding – activities that would give them both a mental and physical workout. Today, however, our pet’s days can be very quiet if we don’t actively look for ways to keep them busy. Try making little changes in their daily routine that encourage them to stay active, such as regularly scheduled walks or playtime and brain-teasing toys they can play with independently or with you.
Whether it’s an unexpected storm or emergency at home, responsible pet parents are ready for anything. When disaster strikes, every second counts so it’s important to have the essentials packed in a bag and ready to go. This bag should include items like vaccination records, extra ID, pet first aid kit, and enough food and water for two weeks. You’ll also want to organize an emergency contact who is comfortable becoming the temporary caregiver of your pets or the person who transports them to safety if you’re unavailable. For a full list of ways you can prepare for an emergency, take a look at this blog.
Our pets use a combination of posture, facial expressions, as well as other body language to express their emotions, and being able to decipher this is an important part of being a responsible pet parent. While many people are familiar with common body language, like a wagging tail, what they may not know is that a wagging tail can mean different things. For example, with dogs, a wagging tail could mean that they’re happy but if it’s paired with a perfectly still stance, it’s actually their way of showing that they’re anxious. And with cats, a wagging tail is their subtle way of saying that they’re annoyed and want more personal space. This is why it’s important that we learn to understand all the different ways that our pets communicate with us as a package.
Helping your pet maintain a healthy weight is one of the best ways to ensure they live a long and happy life, because even a few pounds of extra weight can increase their risk of developing health issues. Start by taking your pet to the vet so you can get a baseline weigh-in and create a plan for you to follow to help your pet reach or maintain a healthy weight. This plan will include things like weighing out meals, setting a daily exercise goal, trying alternatives to traditional bowls, feeding your pup healthy dog food, and more.
February may be Responsible Pet Owners Month, but responsible pet ownership is a year-round event. We hope that these eight examples give you some ideas of new ways that you can become an even better pet parent than you already are!