April is National Pet Month!


As we celebrate #NationalPetMonth, AWF's team shares facts about their beloved furry (and sometimes feathery!) companions, as well as some welfare advice. You will find below some key facts and takeaways celebrating responsible pet ownership that protects and preserves animal welfare:


- Looking after your dog’s teeth is very important to avoid potentially painful dental problems later in life. It’s easy to brush their teeth and only takes a couple of minutes each day. Speak to your vet about the best way to get you started brushing your pet’s teeth!
- Overweight dogs are at real risk of various diseases including arthritis, heart disease and cancer as well as having a shorter lifespan with a potentially poorer quality of life. Helping your pet lose weight has a host of health and welfare benefits and they will be happier for it; committing to a balanced diet and exercise—with the help of your vet—is an important part of maintaining your dog’s health and is well worth the effort.
- Physical and mental stimulations are both very important for a dog health, wellbeing and welfare; you need to provide your dog with the physical exercises relevant to their age and breed, as well as engaging your dog in mental enrichment activities to help develop their brain and strengthen the bond with you. Mental stimulation can also help boost a dog’s confidence.
Sidney and Percy, AWF Chair of Trustee Julian Kupfer beloved whippets.


- Cats prefer to have their food and water separate and away from their litter tray. Type of water bowl is important too; different cats will prefer different bowls so try a few different ones around the house and let your cat tell you what they prefer. Most cats prefer glass, metal and ceramic over plastic. Another tip is to try and move your cat’s food and water bowls away from the wall a little, cats are not the bravest so eating and drinking facing out into the room tends to be preferred.
- Cats love cat naps – they can sleep for 12-18 hours a day. Sleep allows them to restore their energy resources so they’re ready to go hunting.
AWF's Trustee Karlien Heyrman and her cat, Wolfie

Other pets

- Hens are very funny and clever, and each have her own character and endearing quirk. They love to dustbathe, as the fine layer of dust protects their skin from parasites and from the sun.
- Gerbils can be offered a small amount of healthy treats like hemp seeds. Healthy treats can both help to tame gerbils and give them daily mental stimulation to supplement the nuggets that provide their main nutritional needs.
- Gerbils love running, and a large wheel helps them run in a natural posture without bending their spines backwards to fit a tighter curve. They need plenty else to do as well as running, including some dried food to forage for, having deep bedding that can hold the tunnels they dig, and lots of cardboard and non-toxic wood to chew.
- Gerbils love to help with cardboard reuse in the home. Chewing is an important behaviour for gerbils, but plastic, rubber and fabric toys are not suitable, because when gerbils chew them, they may swallow harmful pieces or become entangled in loose threads. Instead, clean cardboard and non-toxic wood, that is free of things like glue and Sellotape, makes an excellent boredom buster.
AWF Trustee Charlotte Burn's Queenie the gerbil
Peggy, AWF Marketing and Communication Officer's hen (ex-battery hen)