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How To Keep Your Pet Safe This Labor Day Weekend

Follow these tips and celebrate the end of summer with your pup 🐶☀️

Labor Day is fast approaching, bringing with it a long weekend full of cookouts, picnics and family gatherings. For pet owners, the holiday also means deciding whether or not to bring pups along to share in the end-of-summer fun.

Outdoor events come with a unique set of challenges for dog owners beyond, “Who’s going to bring the macaroni salad?” and “Do we have enough bug spray?” But there is no reason your dog should have to stay at home alone — provided you keep in mind a few important Labor Day pet safety guidelines.

When crowds, food and pets are involved, things can get a bit messy, so make sure you are prepared. Here’s what you need to know to keep your dog safe during the Labor Day festivities:

Monitor the grill

If you are bidding a fond farewell to summer by firing up the grill, make sure to keep pets away from the action, advises Dr. Rob Proietto, a veterinarian based in New York City. “When grilling in the backyard, it is important to be sure that your dogs stay clear of the grill. Grease drips from the bottom of the grill and can cause burns to the top of [pets’] heads or backs. The bottoms of grills are also very hot and can burn them as well,” Proietto tells The Dodo.

These grease drippings contain large amounts of oil, explains the Pet Poison Helpline, which is not safe for dogs to consume, as the high-fat content can cause risks to the pancreas. BBQ fire starters such as matches, charcoal and lighter fluid can also be dangerous to a curious dog if inhaled or ingested, so put your pup on a leash if he can’t handle the tempting smoky smell.

Watch what they eat

“As with any holiday, there are a lot of people and food, which means that people drop it or give it to dogs. These human foods can cause inflammation of the stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis) or, worse, can cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas),” Proietto explains. If your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t have, symptoms can include severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea — and if left untreated, these conditions can become life-threatening. To keep your pet safe, advise guests against feeding your pup table scraps and make sure they watch their plates.

Corn on the cob, another favorite summer treat, can also be dangerous to a dog’s digestive health, and injuries are more common during particular holidays. “Corn cob obstructions are something we see more when there are picnic holidays. Dogs do not digest corn cobs well and if they swallow large chunks of them, they can get stuck in the intestines and cause an obstruction that will require surgery,” Proietto says.

Popular picnic foods such as raisins, grapes, chocolate, onions, garlic and sugar-free products can all be toxic to pets, notes the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), so if you have a dog around, take extra precautions with the menu. Pet owners can call ASPCA animal poison control for advice should their pup accidentally eat the wrong thing, and to avoid a pricey emergency vet visit, try to keep your dog off the picnic table.

Come prepared

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While summer may be on its way out, the temperatures can still be sky-high. If the weather is warm, stave off dehydration by making sure your pup has shade and plenty of water. Hot pavement can also take a toll on your pup’s feet, so be sure to keep him off the asphalt during extended hikes or walks.

When attending a picnic or BBQ, take proper precautions before letting your dog roam off-leash, even if he is typically well-behaved, notes Proietto. “Other dogs at the gathering may not be as friendly or can get in fights over fallen food, so be sure to know the temperament of the other dogs,” Proietto explains. “Also, when there are people opening doors and gates, there is always risk of your pup escaping, so be sure to always be monitoring them.”

Beware of fireworks

Dogs and fireworks classically do not get along, so if sparklers and poppers are part of your celebration, make sure your dog stays at home.

“Picnic holidays usually involve fireworks. If your dog has any anxieties associated with loud noise of fireworks, they should stay home in a safe place,” Proietto advises. Fireworks can cause dogs to panic, which may lead to an ill-fated escape attempt. Help keep your dog calm during fireworks with a DIY Thundershirt or homemade wrap and provide a safe place for him to retreat to, should the need arise. Follow these tips, and your furry friend can enjoy the holiday by your side.