Summer is a time to break out the grill and have a fun barbecue party with friends, but it can also be quite dangerous for your dog. New people, strange smells, tempting foods, and loud noises can all present hazards to your pup. There are, however, several steps you can take to make sure your barbecue isn’t just fun, but safe for your dog. Here are ten tips to keep dogs safe at summer barbecues.
1. Take Breaks From The Crowd
Meeting new people is exciting, but it can also be overstimulating. Even the most friendly dogs may start to feel a bit of anxiety after being constantly approached by strangers while also being distracted by new smells and sounds. The more anxious your dog is, the more likely they are to look for a place to hide or bolt. It’s best to just take a break from the action so you can allow your dog to calm down and reduce some of that nervous energy.
2. Exercise Beforehand
The potential for anxiety at a gathering with lots of people and loud noises is high. That’s why it’s a good idea to get in a long walk or a vigorous play session before the festivities begin. A tired dog is a happy dog, and they’ll have less energy to devote to being anxious. Keep your pup relaxed and they’ll be less likely to be fearful or attempt to escape.
3. Watch Out For Sunshine
Enjoying the warm weather is fine, but it can also be dangerous if your dog is out in the sun for too long. Watch for the signs of heatstroke, which include restlessness, panting, or bright red gums. Also watch out for dehydration signs, which include lethargy, weakness, dry gums, or sunken eyes. Take precautions against sunburn. Make sure your dog has a nice, cool, shady area to relax with plenty of water, and head inside if the sunshine gets too hot.
4. Keep Food, Alcohol, And Sugary Drinks Out Of Reach
Chicken or rib bones can splinter and cause a choking hazard for dogs, and even boneless foods like hot dogs or salty meats can cause gastrointestinal issues or increase risk of dehydration. Corn on the cob can also be a choking hazard. Other foods like onion, avocado, and grapes are toxic to dogs. Alcohol and sugary drinks are also toxic and can cause sickness shortly after ingestion. Keep all food and drinks out of reach or in your hands at all times.
5. No Dogs Near The Hot Grill
The National Fire Prevention Association says that all pets should remain at least three feet away from hot grills at all time. Additionally, charcoal or lighter fluid might attract curious pups, and they can be toxic if ingested. Grease buildup below the grill is tempting and tasty for dogs, but it can cause gastrointestinal problems or even pancreatitis. Sharp tools for grilling are hazardous, as well. All of this means you need to keep your dog away from the grill at all times, and the grill should never be left unattended.
6. Secure The Trash
Even if there are no food or drinks left out in the open, make sure the trash is secure and out of reach of your dog. Not only are leftover bones and foods potentially harmful, but greasy aluminum foil, cans or bottle caps with sharp edges, plastic wrap, matches, or kebab skewers can all be health or choking hazards for your dog. Pups can be particularly good at sniffing out these items, and it only takes a moment for an unattended trash can to be tipped over. Keep the trash out of reach and securely covered.
7. Avoid Fireworks, Bug Spray, Glow Sticks, And Other Hazardous Products
Fireworks are dangerous, not just because they’re explosive, but because they are frightening for dogs. They can cause severe anxiety and lead to dogs bolting and getting lost. If there are fireworks at the barbecue, your dog should be safe at home in a room with music on to drown out the noise. Bug spray, citronella, glow sticks, and other products that contain chemicals can be toxic for dogs. Keep all of these items out of reach.
8. Keep Your Dog Secure And Make Sure They Have Up-To-Date Identification
With all the people coming and going, you’ll have to make sure your dog can’t find an opportunity to escape and get lost. If your dog is in a fenced area, see that the gate stays closed at all times when people aren’t using it. If your dog is on leash, make sure the leash is secure. Keep your dog’s identification tags and microchip information up-to-date just in case the worst happens. Many dogs get lost during gatherings where it’s easy to get distracted for a moment or two.
9. Check For Signs Of Anxiety
As mentioned before, the potential for anxiety at a barbecue is high. Watch for the symptoms of anxiety in your dog, which can include trembling, a tucked tail, hiding, escape attempts, unusual movements, diarrhea, or licking and biting of various areas of the body. Not only are these destructive behaviors, but they can lead to your dog escaping and getting lost. If your dog is showing signs of anxiety, it’s time to move away from the action. If possible, you should bring your dog inside to a safe area to relax.
10. Make Sure Guests Know The Rules
It’s not enough to make sure you know how to keep your dog safe. You need to make sure that other guests understand the rules, too. If your dog needs to be on leash when outdoors, inform guests going in and out of the house that they should not let your pup out. The same goes for people coming in and out of fenced-in areas. Let guests know that all food and drinks need to be accounted for, and trash should be thrown away. Guests may want to give your pup a tasty treat, but inform them about which foods are okay. Maybe you can put out some dog-friendly treats for guests who are eager to feed your dog. Just make sure that everyone can have a fun time while keeping your dog safe.
Does your dog come to summer barbecues? How do you make sure they stay safe? Let us know in the comments below!