To celebrate or, more accurately, say a fond farewell to the end of summer, there will be millions of backyard barbecues over Labor Day weekend. Since our pets are members of the family, we want them to participate in this end of summer ritual, but picnics pose some dangers for the family pet.
If you are the host family for the backyard barbecue, make sure your pets are safely corralled inside the house. Some cats will want to hide under the bed when the guests begin to arrive, but curious cats may try to join the party and could slip outside unnoticed. Make sure all pets have collars with ID tags and microchips before the party starts.
Dogs are more likely than cats to join the party, but party food should be off the menu for dogs. The picnic table laden with summer treats is a buffet of hazards for Fido. Barbecued chicken, ribs and steaks all contain bones which can be splintered and lodged somewhere in the esophagus or intestine. Stuck bones can be a holiday-wrecking emergency requiring endoscopy or surgery for removal. Trash can-raiding dogs will eat corncobs and peach pits — two other commonly stuck food items.
The dessert and drink tables are no safer. Chocolate, whether in cake or brownies, should not be on your dog’s menu as chocolate is toxic to dogs. Even the fruit tray can be a problem. Grapes and raisins both cause kidney failure in dogs. Why dogs are so sensitive and humans are resistant to the effects of these fruits is unknown. The sweet taste of fruity summer drinks left unattended on the lawn is attractive to dogs, but alcoholic beverages are a no-no. A few sips of an alcoholic beverage by a small pup can easily result in intoxication.
If you are picnicking at the beach or pool, be sure your dog can swim or have her wear a lifejacket. Watch out for cuts from sharp rocks and broken glass, or strong tides which could pull your dog out into the surf. Be sure to provide fresh water and a bowl — too much pond or salt water can cause stomach upset.
Whether you spend this weekend in your backyard, the beach or the woods, fleas and ticks will be there too. These pesky creatures are still active this time of year spreading disease causing organisms to both people and pets by their bites. Many dogs are allergic to flea bites and will have their weekend ruined by itching if bitten by a flea, so don’t forget this month’s dose of flea and tick preventative.
Have a fun and relaxing holiday weekend by keeping the pets and humans in your family safe and well.
For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.