Memorial Day is the day we pause to remember and honor the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our country’s armed forces. Memorial Day is also the unofficial start to summer and a perfect excuse to get together with family, friends, and Fido! Whether you are exploring the great outdoors, traveling to a pet-friendly destination, barbecuing, or just soaking up some sun, it is imperative to keep your pet’s safety in mind at all times!
Grills & Fire Pits
What’s a Memorial Day backyard BBQ without firing up the grill or sitting around a fire pit? Most Memorial Day gatherings consist of family and friends getting together and grilling their favorite foods; however, grills pose a big danger for unsupervised pets. Whether you’re cooking on a gas, propane, or charcoal grill, open flames are extremely dangerous and it’s important to keep the grill monitored at all times.
Dogs have been known to burn their paws, mouths, or even knock over the entire grill while trying to score a bite of tantalizing and aromatic BBQ, and a curious cat can easily burn their paws while trying to bat a hot dog off the burner. Pets and humans can sustain serious injuries when grills are left unattended, so please designate a grill-master and keep pets and small children away from the grilling station and/or fire pits.
Food & Drinks
It can be tempting to give your dog a nibble from your plate, however, many common BBQ staples can be extremely dangerous for your pets.
Bones – if you give a dog a bone, you run a serious risk of damaging your dog’s internal organs. Cooked bones break up easier; the shards can be very dangerous once ingested.
Alliums (onions, garlic, chives, etc.) are known to be poisonous to dogs and will make your pet extremely sick.
Corn on the Cob – corn cobs are a choking hazard for dogs or, if ingested, can cause bowel obstruction.
Alcoholic beverages, raisins, grapes, chocolate, xylitol, and many seasonings are all harmful to pets.
That said, there are some foods that are safe—just make sure they aren’t still hot when you serve them.
Hotdogs cut into pieces
Grilled sweet peppers, zucchini or sweet potato
Lean chicken, fish, or steak – unseasoned
Chilled seedless watermelon
So, there are a few ways for your pet to enjoy the spoils of the BBQ without getting sick; however, it’s best to advise your guests in advance what your dog can and cannot eat, as well as to train your pet not to beg or to jump on the table.
Should your pet eat or drink something they shouldn’t have, contact your local veterinarian right away!
Supervise Pets Near Water
Don’t leave your pets unsupervised around a pool, lake, river, or other body of water—not all dogs are expert swimmers and some breeds can’t swim at all! Introduce your pets to water slowly and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Also, try to keep your dog from drinking pool water which may contain potentially dangerous chemicals like chlorine.
Hydration & Shade
Pets can get dehydrated very quickly, so if you’re spending the day outside, give them plenty of fresh, clean water and make sure they have a shady place to get out of the sun. Breeds with flat faces like Pugs and Persian cats are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, overweight, and those with heart or lung problems, should be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Bug Spray & Sunscreen
Unless specifically designed for animals, insect repellent and sunscreen can be very toxic to pets. DEET, a common insecticide in products for humans, may cause neurological issues in dogs. Zinc oxide, found in most commercial sunscreens, is highly toxic to pets. Signs of repellent toxicity include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy. We recommend the pet-safe Epi-Pet Sunscreen!
Never leave your animals in a vehicle unsupervised. Even a cloudy day or seemingly mild weather can be deadly for your pets! Likewise, you should never leave your pets outside without proper shade to help keep them cool during the day. Heatstroke is very common in pets left in hot environments, and if pets are not cooled down in time, it can be deadly. If you think your pet is experiencing heatstroke, contact your local veterinarian immediately.
Collar, ID Tags & Microchips
We cannot stress enough the importance of microchips and your pet wearing a proper-fitting collar with current ID tags with your up-to-date contact information at all times! Time spent outdoors comes with the added risk of pets venturing off on their own, and in the event that fireworks, loud music, or travel results in an escaped pet, up-to-date ID tags can help him find his way back to you. Microchips are extremely effective when it comes to reuniting pets with their owners; should your pet’s collar slip off or be taken off, a registered microchip with your current information will allow veterinarians, shelters or rescues to contact you should your collar and ID-less pet be found wandering around.
Fireworks & Loud Noises
Fireworks, parties, bonfires and loud music can be very unnerving and unusual for our pets. Fireworks, in particular, can cause trauma and anxiety in your pets. Pick a room your pet cannot escape from, and transform it into a temporary safe haven; plenty of fresh water, regulate the temperature, provide toys to distract them, and having a kennel or piece of furniture they can climb under helps, too. Keep the radio or TV on to help drown out the noise, or play ‘Calming Dog Music’ on YouTube.
It’s nice to sit and watch fireworks with your dog, but when stuck on a leash with massive explosions going off around them – it could be a complete nightmare and they could easily slip out of their collars or leashes and bolt. Keep them safe, keep them comfortable, keep them at home.
Enjoy the Day but Remember the Fallen
By taking a little time before the festivities begin to prep everything your pets will need to enjoy their day, you should be able to relax and have peace of mind knowing you have taken precautions to keep your furkids safe and secure this Memorial Day!
Please don’t forget what Memorial Day is all about; take a moment to remember and honor the fallen canine and human heroes who perished to protect the United States of America.