How to be a responsible pet guardian

Having a pet is an incredibly rewarding experience that can enrich the lives of you and your whānau. But it does carry responsibility – to your pet, to the environment and to the other people and animals around you. Here are some tips for being a responsible pet guardian.


Vaccinations are an important part of keeping pets healthy and preventing the spread of infectious diseases to people and other animals. Talk to your veterinarian about setting up a vaccination programme for your pet.


A microchip is a small device (about the size of a grain of rice) that is implanted in the scruff of your pet’s neck. Each one has a unique number that can be scanned by vet clinics, animal shelters and councils to identify your pet if they get lost.

Microchipping is required by law for dogs and some regions have by-laws that require cats to be microchipped too. We recommend microchipping for all pets though, as it is a vital tool to help you reunite with your pet if they get lost or go missing, or are injured and taken to a local vet clinic.

Talk to your veterinary team about microchipping and registering your pet on the national companion animal register. Make sure you keep your contact details up to date on the register and consider providing a second trusted contact in case you’re not available straight away.


Desexing any pets not intended for breeding helps prevent overpopulation and unwanted animals. Thousands of animals are abandoned each year and there are often see big spikes around breeding seasons. Your veterinarian can provide advice about the best time to desex your pet.

Regular vet visits

You should plan to visit your veterinarian at least once a year for a general health check. Your vet can help you work out a preventative healthcare plan for your pet that includes vaccinations, parasite control and nutrition advice.

Learn more about visiting your vet

Your pet may also need veterinary care between their regular visits. Call your local vet or after hours clinic immediately if your pet shows any of these symptoms, as they can be signs of serious injuries or health conditions:

  • bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum or urinating blood
  • coughing up blood
  • choking, gagging, struggling to breathe or an increased effort to breathe
  • wobbly, tremors or seizures
  • uncontrolled panting, tremors, collapse, seizures (these can be signs of heat stroke)
  • inability to move their legs
  • struggling to or unable to pass urine
  • bloated stomach and unproductive attempts to vomit
  • bleeding heavily or for longer than five minutes
  • fractured bones
  • eye injuries
  • eating something poisonous

Other signs that may warrant a vet visit include:

  • struggling to poop
  • obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety
  • refusing to eat or drink for 24 hours or more
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhoea

Learn more about emergency vet visits

Emergency and disaster planning

Natural disasters can strike at any time, so it's important to have a plan for your pet. This includes:

  • being prepared to evacuate quickly, including having a crate or carrier available for your pet
  • having enough food, water and medication for your pet to last you at least seven days

Learn more about disaster planning

Pet insurance

We strongly recommend you consider pet insurance for any unexpected medical bills or emergencies. Pet insurance can give you peace of mind in an emergency, and gives you one less thing to worry about when deciding the best treatment for your pet. There are a number of companies that offer pet insurance so you’ll need to do some research to find the best one for you and your animal.