Did you know that May is Responsible Animal Guardian Month? 

Two cats cuddling

That’s right; started by American animal welfare organisation In Defence of Animals, May is an opportunity for us all to ensure we’re looking after our pets and treating them right. It’s centered around the idea of being guardians, not owners - and treating our furbabies with the amount of respect and protection they deserve. It sounds pretty good to us!

So, to celebrate the occasion, we thought we’d provide a few of our pointers on making sure that you’re being the responsible guardian your four-legged friend needs you to be.

 

Chip your pets

A pet dog

May is a busy month for us fur-parents, as it’s also Chip Your Pet Month - raising awareness of the importance of microchipping your pet. It’s pretty perfect timing, as this in itself is a huge part of being a responsible pet owner. There are quite a few misconceptions floating out there about microchips, so we thought we’d get them covered here and explain why it’s important to chip your pet.

 

What is a microchip?

Essentially, a teeny tiny device is inserted into your pet’s skin that gives them a unique identification. It’s not some sort of tracker - you won’t be able to log in a code and see exactly where your pup has got to, for example, but it means that should someone come across your pet, they can be easily identified.

How? Because you’ll have filled in contact details (make sure to update if and when they change) so if your pet is taken to a vet or animal rescue, the code can be entered to identify who the animal is and who they belong with. Then they can get in contact with you, reunite you with your furbaby, and it’s a happy ending all around!

Of course, not everyone is aware of microchips and how they work, so it’s still super important to kit your pet out with a collar and ID. It also means we should be spreading the word to popularise the concept so more and more people know how to help lost pets.

 

Why you should chip your pet

Why should you chip your dog? Well, because it's an actual legal requirement; you can be fined up to £500 for not microchipping your pooch. While the same law doesn’t apply for felines, it’s important to ensure you’re being a responsible animal guardian for these little guys too. The risk of your kitty getting lost or ending up far from home should also apply to why you should chip your cat.


See, although the idea of our cats or dogs going missing is every pet owner’s worst nightmare, the statistics of this are actually pretty high. A huge number of pets go missing each year, and sadly a lot don’t end up coming home because there’s no way for them to be identified. Sticking up ‘lost’ posters doesn’t always do the trick, so be responsible from the offset and give them a better chance.

 

Will it hurt my pet?

It’s a pretty painless procedure - quite like getting an injection (which are also super important for responsible pet guardians.) It won’t cause any harm to your pet in the long run and there aren't any negative side effects. It just makes it easier for people to help bring your pet back to you if they get lost.

 

How can I chip my pet?

It’s important to get a professional to chip your pet so that it’s placed properly and securely. You can contact your vet, or there are quite a few animal charities who will often do this for free! Even better.

You then need to ensure that your microchip is registered with a recognised database, and regularly update your contact information should it change.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with losing a pet. But this is one way to really raise the chances of a happy reunion should the worst happen.

 

A healthy diet

Cat eating Meowing Heads

Microchipping your pet isn’t the only important aspect of protecting your pet. It’s important to ensure that you’re doing everything in your power to deliver a healthy lifestyle so that your kitty or canine can live a long and happy life.

Diet is a great place to start - do you know what’s in your pet’s food? For some reason which we can’t really understand, a lot of pet food companies don’t do their bit to ensure that their food is packed full of good stuff.

We’re talking quality meat, tasty herbs and vegetables, and natural products. A lot of companies will subsidise on these important ingredients, instead opting to use nasty animal derivatives, as well as artificial flavours and even GM products to bulk out their kibble.

Luckily, there are some good’uns out there - we’re one of them! At Barking Heads, all of our dog food and cat food recipes are made up with high quality, natural ingredients, to provide nutritional benefits as well as a tasty dinner. This cutie just loves it:

A small breed dog with their Barking Heads dinner

Portion size is also a big deal. Pet obesity is on the rise and causes a whole host of nasty health problems, as the little bodies of your cats and dogs simply aren’t made to cater for excess weight. It’s important to discuss with your vet to identify the correct amount of food that you should be feeding your pet, and if they have packed on a few extra pounds it’s vital to get this sorted and help them shed a little bit of weight to be at their healthiest for their size and breed. We offer specific small breed, medium breed and large breed products to make this a bit easier and provide food with the desired calorific intake and nutrients for size differences.

 

Exercise

A small dog playing on the grass

This is just as important. Animals are active creatures - especially dogs - and even if you’re feeling tired at the end of a long day, your pet isn’t. Prioritise the health of your pet by ensuring they are receiving regular walks to burn off all that energy. If you don’t, obesity is a big risk, alongside the potential for your pet to become lethargic or stressed. Here are some handy tips for keeping your dog active.

Exercise is a must for kitties too, and while they don’t (generally) enjoy long walks around the block, it’s essential to play games and use toys to get them up and moving each day.

 

Vet trips

Dog wearing sunglasses

Although we like to think we can understand our pet’s own unique language, this isn’t always the case - our animals can’t actually tell us if they’re requiring something or if they’re not feeling top notch.

Regular vet trips are necessary for ensuring that your pet is healthy and that there’s nothing untoward going on beneath all that fur. It also means that if there is a problem, it can be diagnosed early before your pet becomes really sick. Vets can also help to advise about diet, exercise, and whether there’s anything extra you could be doing to look after your companion.

 

TLC

Dog holding a flamingo in its mouth

Most important of all, your pet needs (and deserves) a lot of love.

Make sure to make time for your pet each day to provide them with the attention and affection that they need. This will keep them happy, socialised, and most importantly, will allow you to maintain the strong bond everyone should have with their four-legged friend.

Games, tricks, or simply having a good old snuggle on the sofa - this is all essential for making sure that your pet is feeling the love. Be a responsible guardian for your animal in the simplest way: by being a good one.

We’re on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more daily pet tips - and to look at your adorable pics of course! If you’ve got any photos of your cat or dog tucking into their Barking Heads dinner, send them over.