Summer has finally come to Minnesota, and with that comes fun with family and friends over the Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays. Here are some tips for keeping your pooch safe over summer holidays.
1. Watch that barbecue.
The delectable smells of grilling meats filling the air can be irresistible for some dogs. Those that aren’t barbecue savvy can burn themselves either by jumping up on the grill or by getting into dripping pans placed underneath the grill. But even if you manage to keep your dog at a safe distance when the food is cooking, you still need to take some precautions. “After a barbecue, there is often tin foil or plastic around that smells like the food,” says In Relation with Dogs trainer Linda Brodzik, “If these items are ingested, they can cause horrible harm or death by getting stuck in the dog’s intestines.” Make sure to keep post-barbecue garbage away from where a tempted dog might be able to gain access to it.
2. Limit your dog’s exposure to fireworks.
Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and summer festivals often carry with them the opportunity to “ooh” and “ah” at fireworks. “I always discourage people from bringing their dogs with them to fireworks,” says Brodzik. “What people don’t realize is that dogs have much stronger hearing that people, and that the sharpness of fireworks can cause extreme discomfort for dogs.”
If you’re setting off fireworks at home, Brodzik recommends keeping the dog away from where the fireworks are happening, and putting them in the home with a special treat to chew on, such as a peanut butter Kong. According to Brodzik, this helps to build positive associations with the fireworks. “A large percentage of dogs have noise phobia,” she says, “You don’t want to create an issue that needs to be re-trained out.”
3. Protect your dog from heat exhaustion.
Bringing your dog along to summer activities like parades or art fairs can mean hours of standing on hot asphalt. This not only carries the potential of burning a dog’s paws. Since dogs’ only sweat glands are in their feet, overheating, says Brodzik. According to PetWebMD, signs of heat exhaustion include heavy panting and difficulty breathing, the tongue and mucous membranes turning bright red, and thick saliva or vomiting. For more information on how to recognize and treat heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs, go to http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/heat-stroke-dehydration-dogs.
Likewise, leaving your dog unattended in the car in the summer while you run errands is never a good idea. Even with the car parked in the shade with the windows cracked, the temperature inside the car can be up to thirty degrees warmer than the outside temperature. For more information on the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car, go to http://www.redrover.org/mydogiscool.
4. Don’t forget your dog when you’re entertaining.
With friends over, drinks and food to be enjoyed, and fun to be had, it can be easy to forget about Fido’s needs. Too often, guests leave doors and gates open and dogs take the opportunity for an escape, and end up lost or hit by a car. Don’t end your party by canvassing the neighborhood looking for your dog, or worse, making an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital. Keeping your dog in a safe place, enjoying a tasty treat where she is safe from harm will ensure a good time is had by all.
5. Plan ahead.
The dog is a part of the family, so it’s natural to want to bring her to the parade, or to go camping, or on other fun activities. If these activities are safe and enjoyable for your dog, they can be great. “Before you bring your dog along, ask yourself, ‘will this activity put my dog over threshold?’” says Brodzik. “Think about whether or not this is the right socialization for your dog. Is your dog safe with kids, crowds of people, and other dogs?” If you think any of these situations might be too much for your dog, then you can be inviting trouble. While it’s fun, and often appropriate, to include Spot, understanding his particular needs and being mindful of them is key to making sure everyone has a good experience.
Linda Brodzik has over 30 years of training experience and continued education in the science of behavior and animal training. She has studied with many top dog and animal trainers, animal behaviorists and veterinarians in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and from around the world, and has attended classes through the Life Learn Program at the Ontario Veterinary Collage, University at Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She offers both private training and training classes in the Twin Cities Metro Area. For more information about Linda, go to www.inrelationwithdogs.com.