Above all else, Memorial Day is a day to recognize our fallen soldiers. But for many Americans, Memorial Day also means spending time with family and friends under the hot, nearly-summer sun. Because the long weekend is typically spent outside and dogs are often invited to join in the fun, it’s important to keep dog safety in mind. Follow these tips to keep Fido safe during the busy holiday festivities.
1. Beware at the BBQ.
The food at a barbeque or picnic can be awfully tempting to your curious pooch, who doesn’t know the difference between food he can and cannot eat. It’s your job to keep your pup away from foods that can be toxic to him, such as onions, avocados and grapes. Bring your dog his own food and keep him away from people food and drink, including alcohol, which can be extremely dangerous to your dog even in small amounts.
2. Choose your bug spray wisely.
Bug repellent keeps away pesky insects that can harm both you and your dog, but certain sprays might have an unintended effect on your pup. Human insecticides can cause neurological and respiratory issues in dogs, so make sure to choose a spray that’s Fido-friendly, especially if he’s not up-to-date on his flea and tick medication.
3. Don’t keep his identity a secret.
During this crowded and noisy holiday, it’s easy for your pup to get startled and run off. If at home, make sure the yard is fully gated or closed off so your pup doesn’t escape from your sight. If he’s in a place where he can run far and wide, the worst thing that could happen is that your dog gets lost without any identification to help him get back home. Make sure your dog has an ID tag with updated name, address and telephone number, or better yet, is microchipped to help locate him easily.
4. Keep him cool and comfortable.
Dogs can get dehydrated pretty quickly, and flat-faced dogs like Pugs and Bulldogs are especially prone to breathing problems in hot weather, so it’s important to keep an eye on a panting pooch. Make sure he has access to plenty of clean water, and keep him in the shade or indoors as much as possible to avoid overheating.
5. Watch out around the water.
While some dogs love to swim, others are not so fond of the water, and might not even know how to swim. Like you would with a young child, you should supervise your pup around the pool and not leave him unattended around a pool or lake. Similar precautions should be taken at the beach so as not to let your pup get washed away by strong ocean currents. Let him get wet if he wants, but just monitor the activity.
6. When in doubt, keep him indoors.
The best way to keep your pup safe during the holiday is to leave him at home, but if he must come with you, then at least opt to keep him indoors as much as possible. Memorial Day weekend is often filled with sights and sounds that can overwhelm your sensitive pup, so avoiding the things that can upset your dog is sometimes the best option for everyone to have an enjoyable time.
In celebration of First Aid Kit Awareness, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of items to include in your dog’s emergency medical kit. Whether you buy one ready-made, or put it together yourself, it’s imperative to have this equipment in an airtight container that’s easily accessible in a place you won’t forget.
Important Contact Information and Paperwork
Be sure to include phone numbers and directions for your local veterinary clinic, animal hospital (if it’s not the same place) and poison control center. Remember, in a disaster situation, strangers or emergency workers may find your kit, so make sure this information is bold and legible, so your dog can be brought to safety in a rush. Necessary paperwork to include would be proof of vaccinations (e.g., rabies status), copies of important medical records such as allergies, a current photo of your dog in case he gets lost and ideally a replacement ID tag with his info that could attach to his collar in a pinch.
- Gauze rolls for creating a muzzle for an injured animal or wrapping wounds (note: never create a muzzle if your dog is vomiting, choking, coughing or having difficulty breathing)
- Sterile non-stick bandages, towels or strips of clean cloth, to control bleeding or protect wounds
- Adhesive tape for bandages, to secure gauze or bandages (do not use adhesive bandages meant for humans!)
- Digital “Fever” Thermometer and Petroleum Jelly to check your dog’s temperature. Note: temperature must be taken rectally for an accurate read and a dog’s normal temperature should be between 100-103 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle) to administer oral medications, force-feed or to flush wounds
- Leash and harness to transport your pet if capable of walking without injury
- Blanket, mat or piece of board to be used as a stretcher in the event your dog becomes injured and must be carried
- Thermal blanket to keep your dog warm during transport
- Antibacterial wipes to cleanse wounds and sanitize
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Ice pack
- Non-latex disposable gloves
- Scissors with blunt ends
- Sterile saline solution
- Tweezers with a flat slant tip instead of the rounded variety to remove splinters or tick heads
- Tongue depressor to examine the mouth
- Disposable safety razor in case you need to shave hair around a wound
- Flashlight and matches
- Rubbing alcohol, which can be used as a cooling agent to aid heat stroke or fever
- Bag balm to treat injured paw pads
- Ear cleaning solution
- Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poisons and toxins (always call poison control before treating a poisoned animal) or for upset stomach
- Hydrogen Peroxide 3% to induce vomiting if your dog is poisoned (again, with permission from poison control). Make sure to check expiration dates and replace regularly.
- Betadine solution, a type of antiseptic iodine for wounds to deter infection
- Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin
- Eye ointment without cortisone
- Epsom salts, which can be used with water to draw out infection and relieve itchy paws and skin
- Styptic power to stop bleeding of torn toenails
- Benadryl for bug bites, stings and other allergic reactions (check dosage with your vet prior to administering)
- Gentle pet sedative such as Rescue Remedy, which can help relieve stress, fright, fatigue and irritation due to injury and anxiety-producing events
- A week’s supply (or more) of your dog’s food
- Can of soft pet food, which can reduce the effects of poisoning
- Bottled water
- Bowl or container to use for food and water
- Rehydrating solution such as Gatorade or Pedialyte for diarrhea or vomiting
- Supplement such as Nutri-cal, NuVet Plus, Vitacal or Nutristat
- High sugar source such as Karo syrup or sugared treats
If this seems like a long laundry list of somewhat unnecessary items, just remember that nobody ever regretted being “too prepared” in an emergency situation. You can never predict what will happen and it’s better to be safe when it comes to your furry child, than sorry.