Responsible Pet Guardianship…… The American Humane Association

Part of being kind to animals is being a responsible pet guardian. Here are ways to take the very best care of your companion animals and show them how much you appreciate them.

Have your pets spayed or neutered. You'll end up with a calmer, healthier pet and help reduce the tragic problem of pet overpopulation. Remember to tell others about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets, as well. Read more about this procedure.

Microchip your own pets, and encourage others to do the same. Administered much like a routine vaccination, a microchip is a permanent form of identification that is implanted under the animal's skin. American Humane recommends microchipping your companion animals, as well as having updated ID tags on your pets at all times. Remember -- identification is your lost pet's ticket home!

Give your pets the exercise they need. Dogs, no matter their size, need daily exercise to stay healthy, so provide them with fun opportunities to get out and stretch their legs. Visit to learn how to help your dog lead a happy, healthy life. For cats, there are a variety of safe toys on the market that will make them want to run, chase, and pounce. Learn more…

Teach your old (or young) dog some tricks -- try obedience training! Dogs as young as eight weeks can benefit from obedience training. If you've recently adopted a puppy, call around to find a puppy kindergarten class in your area. Your new friend will experience the benefits of socialization, learn some basic commands, and develop a stronger bond with you. Plus, you'll meet other owners with newly adopted dogs and be able to share information and have fun at the same time.

If you have an older dog, sign up for a basic obedience class. No matter your dog's age, training can be beneficial and fun! When training your cat or dog, use great-tasting snacks to reward good behavior.

Don't let your dog ride in an open truck bed

Any sudden start, stop, or turn may toss your pet onto the highway where he can get hit by oncoming traffic. It is estimated that at least 100,000 dogs die this way each year.

Open truck beds do not provide any protection from the weather. Hot sun can heat the metal floor of a truck bed enough to burn a pet's paw pads. A dog left sitting in the broiling sun without water or shade can quickly suffer heat stroke.

Do not leash your pet inside the truck bed -- many dogs have been strangled when tossed or bumped over the side of the truck and have been left helplessly dangling.

If your dog must ride in the back of the truck, put the pet inside a crate that will give him some protection from the wind and weather. Tie the crate securely to the walls of the truck bed, so your pet cannot slide about or be tossed from the truck.

Check your pet's collar regularly. Collars do not expand, but puppies and kittens grow quickly! If not loosened, collars can literally grow into your pet's neck, creating an excruciating, constant pain. Check your pet's collars at least every week until the animal is full-grown (that can be more than a year for really large breeds of dog). You should be able to easily slip two or three fingers between the pet's collar and his neck.

If you have a cat, be sure to buy a "break-away" collar that can easily break if it gets stuck on something. This will prevent your cat from being strangled by her collar.