National Pet Week

National Pet Week
In this article:
  • Learn how National Pet Week® honors pets and supports owners in caring for them.
  • Find information about each day’s theme.
  • Access the veterinary toolkit and other resources to encourage responsible pet ownership.

Celebrate National Pet Week® May 5-11, 2024

National Pet Week® celebrates the pets that enrich our lives and encourages responsible pet care every day of the year. Created by the AVMA and the Auxiliary to the AVMA in 1981, it's observed during the first full week of May each year.

Whether companion, comedian, confidant, or protector, our pets are always there for us. National Pet Week® celebrates this bond and encourages pet owners to be certain to provide their best friends with everything needed for a happy, healthy life. Veterinarians, veterinary technicians, school groups, and communities host a variety of fun and informative events throughout the week.

Everyone loves their pets, but not everyone is aware of all that their pet needs to be happy and healthy long into its senior years. AVMA's member veterinarians – experts in animal health, welfare, and behavior – invite you to take each of the essential actions highlighted during National Pet Week® that are vital to provide a lifetime of love:

Daily themes

Each day of the week focuses on a different topic essential to responsible pet ownership:

Choose well: Commit for life

Select the pet that's right for your family's lifestyle, and make a commitment for that pet’s life. Even if you’ve already welcomed a pet into your home, your veterinarian can help you better understand the social and healthcare needs of your individual pet.

Behavioral health: Habits for happy pets

Keep your pet happy and healthy by promoting positive interactions. Try creating an environment that encourages natural behaviors by introducing puzzles, games, and interactive toys, or learning new skills. Activities like target training are wonderful options for dogs and cats—and even other pets, like fish! You can also promote good behavior by helping your pets get comfortable in new situations by safely exposing them to a variety of interactions with other animals, people, places, and activities.

Nutrition and exercise matter

An estimated 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Many people face the same issue, and the AVMA encourages pet owners to get regular exercise—with their pets! This improves cardiovascular health, helps both pets and people maintain a healthy weight, supports good mental health for both owner and pet, and strengthens the human-animal bond. See tips on walking, running, or starting an exercise program with your pet.

Nutrition is important to both weight management and overall health. Your veterinarian can advise you on how much to feed your pet and whether the diet you’re providing is healthful – including both meals and treats!

Love your pet? See your vet!

Regular preventive care is critical to keep pets healthy and improve both quality and length of life. It also can save owners a great deal of money in the long run. Don’t wait to take your pet to the veterinarian only when it’s visibly sick or injured. Pets often hide signs of illness, and regular check-ups are vital to catching health problems early. Early treatment means better health for your pet.

Travel with care

Traveling with pets requires advance planning and coordination to keep everybody safe. Whether you’re taking a short car trip or flying to another state or country, getting your pet safely to your destination requires special precautions. These range from proper restraints during travel to veterinary exams and travel certificates. Plan ahead, and know exactly what’s needed when you travel with pets of different species.

Emergencies happen: Be prepared

We never know when or where an emergency will happen. As a pet owner, you need to plan ahead, and include your pets in your family’s emergency plan. Know what to do in case of an emergency, how to assemble emergency and first aid kits, and how to properly identify your pets so your family can be reunited if you’re ever separated.

Plan for their care: Give them a lifetime of love

Thanks to better care, pets are living longer now than they ever have before—and as pets get older, they need extra care and attention. Regular veterinary examinations can detect problems in older pets before they become advanced or life-threatening. They also can improve your pet's chances for a longer and healthier life. Learn what's "normal" and what may signal a reason for concern about an aging pet.

Poster and writing contests

The Auxiliary to the AVMA celebrates National Pet Week® with an annual poster and writing contest for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.