Memorial Day is here, and in honor of the military personnel who have died while serving in the United States armed forces, many people (and their pets) are gathering to enjoy the outdoors. While we are busy honoring these fallen soldiers, spending time with friends and family, it is important to remember the safety and well-being of our furry friends.
“Naturally, pets want to be included in all the festivities of their owners. However, there are potential risks for pets at these outdoor events,” explained Dr. James Barr, Chief Medical Officer at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital. “In addition to the food dangers that exist, large gatherings, loud music, and fireworks can trigger anxiety in lots of dogs and cats. It is important pet owners know the dangers and are prepared for whatever the weekend festivities bring.”
Memorial Day tips to avoid an unexpected trip to the veterinary ER
BBQs. Many foods can pose dangers for our furry companions. Dogs in particular are notorious for finding corn cobs, kebab skewers, and other dangerous leftovers like chicken wing bones left on vacant plates or in a garbage bin. Fat drippings and meat oils can also lead to pancreatitis, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and intense abdominal discomfort. Make sure you have a friend or family member watching over the grill and be sure to look out for running dogs. If the grilled is knocked over, this could cause burn injuries to both people and pets. Lastly, be sure there is a clear spot to place trash and leftovers, well out of reach of curious dogs.
Open flames. Any open flame or spark poses risks to our pets. This includes campfires, fire pits, tiki torches, and firework sparks. Tiki torches contain petroleum distillates which have been shown to cause irritation to pets’ skin and gastrointestinal tracts (if ingested). If you think your dog has chewed on or ingested a tiki torch, watch for symptoms of excessive drooling, vomiting, prolonged/severe coughing, and redness or ulceration of the gums, and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms persist/worsen. Make sure all pets are kept a safe distance from open fires, even if this means securing them indoors.
Heat stroke. Check the weather for upcoming elevated temperatures or a heat wave. If a heat wave is expected, consider leaving your pet at home, or plan to leave them in a cool, shaded safe place outdoors. Physical activity mixed with heat increases the risk of pet heat stroke and/or paw pad burns. Signs of heatstroke include:
Glazed eyes or staring
Anxious or restlessness
Gums and tongue turn bright red or purple
Trouble standing or walking
Also, be sure to never leave your dog unattended in a hot car or tent. In an enclosed space, temperatures can rise quickly. Consider bringing a crate and/or a portable fencing unit to help keep them contained and ensure their safety.
Becoming lost. Fit your dog with a secure collar and ID tags before heading out this summer or hosting an event. If your pet does happen to escape through an open door, or even under a gate, ID tags – and even better, a microchip - will help get them back to you. Loud noises such as fireworks or music events can cause extreme stress to dogs so consider leaving them behind, and make sure they are safe inside in a secure place. It is also important to remember that dogs will be less likely to find their way back to you in an unfamiliar environment. Make sure you take extra measures to ensure that they can be identified by someone when found.
Food no-nos. Avoid feeding pets all food containing bones as they can splinter and damage the intestinal tract. Foods containing onions, garlic, avocados, grapes/raisins, xylitol (a common sugar substitute used in baked goods) or chocolate should also be avoid as these foods can lead to toxicity, causing vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, agitation/hyperactivity, a rapid heartbeat, tremors, and seizures.
Dehydration. Always provide fresh water for your pet as dehydration is one of the most common veterinary emergencies during the summer months. Bring along bottled water, and a collapsible dog bowl with a carabiner, if travelling.
While Memorial Day is an exciting time for people and pets alike, there are looming dangers that all pet owners should be aware of. By taking precautions, we all can have a healthy and happy holiday weekend and prevent an emergency trip to the veterinarian.
If you would like to know more about this dangers or summer dangers for pets, please let me know. I would be happy to connect you to a local veterinarian for comment or interview.
Most BluePearl hospitals are open day and night, seven-days-a-week, and during holidays. Find a local BluePearl here.