Dr. Anna Dunton Gallagher
OFF THE LEASH
Memorial Day is a lot of things to a lot of people. In addition to remembering those who gave their lives, it is often a time to celebrate the start of summer with those still with us. We actually had a very nice weather week until the rain, but Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of summer. With the heat, fireworks and BBQs, we have similar things as July 4 to watch with our dogs.
Dogs and BBQ food prep do not mix. All of those fatty delicious meats that we love to grill and eat aren’t good for our dogs. Raw meat and high-fat meals both cause gastrointestinal disruption, and too much fat can lead to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can become life-threatening and require hospitalization with fluids and medication to resolve.
This may be hard to believe, but skewers of meat are especially troublesome. Dogs will eat the entire skewer, and trust me when I say that it soon becomes an expensive and time-consuming emergency. The other thing that dogs will sneak is toothpicks from appetizers or the garbage. They taste like whatever they were poked into, but create lots of issues when they are swallowed.
Big parties are a party for some dogs, but a stressor for others. Make sure that if your dog gets stressed with a lot of people, they have an “escape room” or place where they can hide from the fray. Also, make sure that guests know if your dog needs to be secured. It is very easy for a dog to escape through a door or gate when someone turns their head. For dogs that are prone to running, creating a secondary barrier can help when there are a lot of people coming and going.
Some dogs are also invited to dress up and join parades this weekend. Make sure that your pet has worn their costume in advance and is comfortable with crowds and noise before you start the route. Also, make sure that if it is a hot day the pavement isn’t too hot for their feet and that they have breaks for water. If they begin to act hot or scared make sure that you have an escape plan and that you can leave if needed.
Fireworks are loud and scary to many dogs. If your dog has a sound aversion, it is important to get treatment from your veterinarian, as these often escalate with each episode. Fireworks are often a cause of lost pets, as even those that aren’t scared of noises can bolt when they are outside for these.
Keep pets away from fireworks and secured inside when they are expected. If your pet has a noise aversion, it is important to keep them safe and keep them as fear-free as possible.
This is the start of really hot summer. I will write a full summer article soon, but remember that even though we are still shaking off winter, pets should not be left in cars this time of year. We also can’t just leave them outside without shade anymore, and always need to provide fresh water.