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  • Writer's pictureThe Vet Experts

9 Ways To Make Sure Your Pup Has A Chill And Safe Memorial Day

With Memorial Day coming up on 27th it marks the (technically unofficial) start of summer! As we get ready to honor those who lost their lives fighting for our Country, we begin to plan BBQ and pool parties, go to parades, and maybe even celebrate with some fireworks.

Like everything, pet parents have to think about a few other concerns before the merriment can begin. Otherwise, you could be spending the long weekend in the Urgent Care/ER waiting room while your pet is treated for an array of holiday-induced emergencies.

Pets can come in with serious lacerations from jumping through glass windows, high-rise fall injuries from leaping from balconies, car-impact trauma from attempting to flee from large crowds, dietary indiscretions from stealing scraps from the grill, and cases of severe anxiety due to overwhelming stimulation. 

At Companion Veterinary and Urgent Care we also receive many phone calls from distressed pet parents trying to locate their lost dog or cat after they’ve run away from home in a panicked state.

Here are some top tips in advance so the only thing you'll have to worry about is not burning your burgers!

Keep your pet safe and secure (aka: inside!).

While fireworks are more often associated with fourth of July, many Memorial Day parades and celebrations include them as well. If you live out of earshot of major firework presentations, don’t forget that even small neighborhood displays can be just as distressing to your pets. Make sure your pets are secured indoors and as far away from the noise as possible.
If your dog is crate trained put them in their crate and cover it with a blanket for an added feeling of security. You can also help block the sights and sounds outside simply by lowering the blinds and turning on the TV. Don’t forget that a fenced-in pet will still look for a way to escape the yard during times of extreme stress. And if you plan to go to a friend’s home for the festivities, leave your pet at home.

Make sure your pet is microchipped (and registered).

Be sure that your pet can be identified in case they do escape. If you don’t already have a name tag for your dog, most local pet supply stores can make one on the spot. Microchipping is the best way to help missing animals find their way back home — in fact, they are four times more as likely to!
That said, it’s not uncommon for animals to go missing that have been microchipped but are not registered with one of the national microchip registries. So before the weekend rolls around, double check that your pet is microchipped, registered, and that your contact info (address and phone number) is current.

Avert anxiety-induced behaviors.

Pets often try to relieve anxiety by chewing, so make sure confined pets do not have access to anything that they could choke or otherwise injure themselves on. Crating can curb that to a certain degree, but and you should still keep a watchful eye on dogs with destructive tendencies.
At Companion Veterinary and Urgent Care we have seen injuries as mild as broken toenails from trying to “dig out” from their crates to more extreme cases of mouth trauma and fractured teeth from biting the bars to escape. So, don’t try crating a dog for the first time on Memorial Day — it will only add to their distress. Instead, under supervision you could try distracting your dog with an interactive puzzle toy, or a frozen Kong.

Beware of BBQ dangers.

No matter how well they work those pleading puppy-dog eyes, do not feed your dog scraps from the grill (and keep garbage bags out of reach afterwards). In addition to toxic foods, Memorial Day menu favorites, like chicken bones and corn cobs, are choking hazards. Even other seemingly innocuous snacks can lead to pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, and intestinal obstructions that may require emergency surgery. And please do not give your dog beer — hops can cause hyperthermia, vomiting, abnormal clotting, coma, and even death.

Prioritize pool/ swimming safety.

No matter how proficient your dog’s doggie paddle is, if you can not be directly supervising and focusing on your dog maybe avoid swimming this weekend. The beach may have strong currents in the ocean, or the risk of saltwater intoxication. There are hazards in your own backyard pool If your pet wants to take a dip to cool off and you’re able to keep an eye on them, consider a life jacket or other floatation device for added peace of mind. While chlorinated pool water is relatively safe to swallow in small amounts, chlorine tablets in their concentrated form are poisonous.

Stay cool and avoid heatstroke.

With temps on the rise and summer around the corner, heatstroke is a very real risk for pets, especially here in Florida. Make sure your dog has access to shade and cold water, don’t leave them outside for an extended period of time, and watch out for symptoms of heatstroke, including excessive panting or drooling, a bright red or purple tongue, or increased heart rate. Brachycephalic dogs, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, are especially at risk because their short snouts make panting (a dog’s natural cooling mechanism) extra challenging. They often exhibit additional signs of overheating like wobbling or vomiting. If any of these symptoms appear, move them to an air-conditioned environment and cover them with a wet towel ASAP. If they don’t cool down and stop panting, take them to an Urgent Care or ER vet as heatstroke (again, particularly in certain breeds) can be fatal.

Hold the bug spray.

Avoid spraying your pet with insect repellant and only use sunscreen that is intended for animal use; human products can be toxic to them. Exposure to bug spray that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy. Citronella candles, insect coils, and oil-based insect repellents can also cause stomach irritation and possibly central nervous system depression.

Keep matches and lighter fluid out of reach.

This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised! Lighter fluid can be irritating to the skin. If ingested, it can produce irritation of the stomach and intestines, and it can cause aspiration pneumonia if it is inhaled. And certain types of matches contain chlorates that can damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing or kidney disease in severe cases. So, after firing up the grill, put everything away.

Consider calming aids to help them chill.

Some pets respond well to situational sedatives as needed, such as Acepromazine. If you already know your pet gets anxious in these situations, make an appointment or give us a call at Companion Veterinary and Urgent Care ahead of time to have your pet examined and a sedative dispensed.
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