National Pet Week gives all pet owners the opportunity to refocus on their pets and learn even more about what they can do to help their animals live the longest and healthiest lives possible.

Written by Lauren Brink

National Pet Week is always celebrated the first full week in May. Created in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Auxiliary to the AVMA.

This special week there are seven different actions pet owners can take to ensure the continued health, happiness and overall well being of their pets.

Seven steps to Happier Pets:

1. Choose well. Commit for life.

Selecting the animal that’s right for your family is the first step in building a lifelong relationship with your pet. Some factors to consider are species and breed, time and financial commitments, and the level of care your pet will need. A veterinarian can help you consider all of the factors, so it’s a good idea to talk with one even before you make your decision. If you have already welcomed a pet into your home, talk to your veterinarian about the specific social and health care needs that may be unique to your animal.

2. Socialize now. New doesn’t have to be scary.

Creating a socialization plan will help your pet feel more comfortable in its new home, and among other animals and people. Pets that are well socialized often develop calmer and more confident temperaments that help them enjoy a wider range of interactions and activities.

3. Exercise body. Exercise mind.

Just like people, pets require regular exercise to maintain cardiovascular health, preserve a healthy weight, and provide mental stimulation. Exercising with your pet also offers the opportunity to strengthen the human-animal bond through shared experiences outside of the home. Your veterinarian can help you create an exercise program based on your pet's breed, age, lifestyle, and overall health.

4. Love your pet? See your vet!

When was the last time you took your pet for a checkup? Pets often hide signs of illness, so routine checkups are vital in preventing potential diseases, catching health problems early, and treating illnesses quickly. Not only does early treatment improve the chances of a longer life for your pet, it can also save you money. If your pet hasn’t had a wellness exam in over a year, schedule an appointment today.

5. Pet population control: Know your role.

Spaying or neutering your pet is important in preventing overpopulation and can also keep your animal healthy. There are many options when it comes to spaying or neutering, including both surgical and non-surgical procedures. You can also avoid unplanned breeding through containment or managed breeding. Talk to your veterinarian about the decision to spay or neuter your pet, and make sure to discuss the benefits and risks associated with these procedures.

6. Emergencies happen. Be prepared.

You want to keep your pet safe, even in the event of a natural disaster or other unplanned emergency. It’s important to include your pets in your family’s emergency plan and ensure their safety in any situation.

7. Give them a lifetime of love.

Thanks to better care, pets are living longer than they ever have before – but as pets get older, they need extra care and attention. Talk to your veterinarian about what is normal behavior in your aging pet, and what may be a cause for concern. Regular examinations can detect problems in older pets before they become advanced or life-threatening, and improve the chances of a longer and healthier

However you decide to embrace the celebration, don’t forget to honor yourself. Thank you for being a loving, caring, responsible pet parent!