Dr. Webster’s BLOG

Memorial Day Pet Safety Tips

Memorial Day unofficially marks the start of the summer season across the nation. Here in Florida, it feels like summer is already here, and it looks like it’s going to be a hot one, even by our sunshine state standards. For many of us, the three day weekend includes trips to the beach, cookouts or lounging by the pool. Of course, your pet is likely to be included in some (or all) of these plans- so let’s talk about some do’s and don’ts of Memorial Day as it comes to your pets.

Do not do these:

Don’t let your dog near the picnic basket or your delicious spread of food.

Your pet should never be given human foods, as their sensitive stomachs often can’t tolerate even a small amount. Fatty foods from your picnic or barbecue can lead to an uncomfortable and messy condition called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed, and enzymes that usually are inactive until they reach the small intestine become active in the pancreas. This is a painful condition for your pet and can lead to:

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness

There are also plenty of foods that are dangerous- or even lethal for your pet- if consumed in large amounts. These are often found around summer festivities. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Grapes, Raisins & Currants
  • Chocolate
  • Sweets with Xylitol- an artificial sweetener
  • Onions & Garlic

Although not poisonous, other foods that can cause major problems are:

  • Peach Pits
  • Corn Cobs
  • Cherry Pits
  • Chicken, Chop and Beef bones

All of these items can pose either a choking hazard or if ingested create an obstruction in the stomach, intestines or bowels which may likely require surgery to remove.

The Barbecue Grill

Don’t leave your pup unattended around the barbecue grill. Better yet, keep them inside if at all possible while you are grilling. If your grilling area is active with party-goers, a swimming pool or rambunctious youngsters- your dog may become excited and lose their awareness. We don’t want your pet running into, or toppling over a hot charcoal grill.


The Beach

The three day weekend drives throngs of people and their pets to the beach. The dog beaches in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are always crowded on holiday weekends for good reason. They’re great spots for exercise and social interaction- but there are lots of risks, too. We can minimize all of these risks with a little planning and forethought.

Make sure your pet has access to plenty of fresh water. I prefer to bring my own, as ‘community’ water dishes or fountains can be petri dishes of bacteria. Reduce the risk by bringing a dedicated water dish only for your dog’s use- with your own fresh water. If they’re playing in the water at the beach, monitor them closely to make sure they’re not taking in too much saltwater. Although rare, saltwater poisoning can be fatal for your pet.

Double check to see if the dog beach you’re headed to has good water quality. We keep our dog beach water quality report updated regularly. If you go often, I recommend bookmarking the page for easy reference.

Bring sunscreen for your pet. Yes, believe it or not, your pet is susceptible to sunburn too. Not all sunscreens are good for your pet- so be sure to read my blog on this topic which you can read here.

Your pet needs to have access to shade, too. Overheating can lead to heatstroke. If there is not an accessible shady area for your pet to rest, consider taking an umbrella or pop-up tent to give your pet a break from the hot sun. I’ve covered this topic in a previous blog which can be found here.

Wherever you go, it’s important to be sure that your pet has their identification on their collar. Whether it’s a personalized ID tag, their rabies tag, or another form of ID, they should have it on before you head out the door. More pets go missing around the seasonal holidays than any other time of year. Better than ID tags, microchips are still the best way to find your pet should they become lost.

I hope that you have found these tips helpful, and that you have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend with your pets, friends and family! For more blog articles, check out my blog page here.

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