Everyone knows that February is the month of love – February 14 is Valentine’s Day, after all! A lesser-known but just as important reason why February is notable is that it is Responsible Pet Owners Month! Most pet owners regard their furry friends as full on four-legged family members. As such, these creatures that bring so much to our lives deserve to be treated as such. Here are some tips to keeps our pets safe year-round.

Watch What They Eat

When we feed our pets people food, we may assume we’re doing them a favor and giving them a special treat. In some cases, that may be true. A half a piece of bacon or a chunk of chicken breast likely won’t hurt them. Many other people foods will. Grapes, raisins, onions are poisonous to dogs. Bones can splinter and perforate a pet’s intestines. Even something as innocuous as uncooked dough can be lethal when ingested by a pet (the yeast expands in the pet’s stomach creating a potentially life-threatening pressure.) According to the ASPCA, other foods to avoid feeding your pets include alcohol; avocado; chocolate; coffee; caffeine; citrus; coconut and coconut oil; garlic; milk and dairy; nuts; raw/undercooked meat and eggs; salt and salty snacks; and foods or beverages containing the sweetner xylitol.

Protect them from the Elements

While our pets may enjoy spending a mild spring day roaming the backyard (assuming the yard has been escape-proofed), pets belong inside during inclement weather. Pets feel the heat and the cold just like humans do. They can suffer from heat stroke, frostbite, and can even freeze. On days that you consider unpleasant to be outside, bring your pets in to keep them safe!

Make Sure They Get Exercise

Just like humans, pets can become obese. Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise. If you have a hamster or gerbil, make sure there’s a wheel in its cage. If you have a cat, pique her interest with a enticing toy. If you have a dog, walk him! Dogs love to explore their surroundings and put their keen sense of smell to work. Bonus: not only will your dog be getting exercise, so will you!

Make Sure They Get Regular Checkups and Vaccinations

Our pets are like our kids. Most parents are meticulous about making sure their kids visit the pediatrician regularly and are immunized against dangerous diseases. We need to be just as committed to taking our pets to the vet so they’ll be safe.

Shower Them With TLC

You know who the center of your pet’s universe is? You! Our pets are dependent on us for food, shelter, and love. Take time each day to spend quality time with them and reassure them that they’re important members of the family!