National Picnic Month: 9 Tips To Have A Fun, Safe Picnic With Your Dog

Happy active senior women and dog enjoying sunny summer picnic

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

July is National Picnic Month, and with the warm, sunny weather, it’s a great time to have a picnic with your pooch. Picnics can be a lot of fun for dogs and humans, but there are a few safety concerns that you should be on the lookout for while you’re outdoors with friends, family, and canines. It’s important to supervise your dog and not get too distracted by everything going on around you. If you take precautions and stay vigilant, you and your pup will have a blast outside with yummy food and good company. Here are nine tips to make sure you and your dog have a fun, safe picnic during National Picnic Month.

1. Make Sure Your Dog’s ID Is Updated

Even if you are as safe as possible, you never know when something might happen that causes your dog to run off and get lost, especially during a social gathering with a lot of distractions. The best way to make sure that your dog can find their way back to you is to make sure that their tags, microchip, and any other form of identification are up-t0-date with your latest contact information.

2. Pick A Dog-Friendly Location

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You can choose any dog-friendly location to have a picnic with your pup–even your own backyard–but if you choose to have a picnic in a public place like a park, beach, or forest preserve, make sure that dogs are allowed to be there. You can check with your local park district or look online for locations that welcome dogs. If you show up to a place where dogs are not allowed, you may be asked to leave, and that can put a damper on your picnic plans.

3. Keep Your Pup Cool And Hydrated

No matter where you have your picnic, you should always provide a place for your dog to get out of the sun and drink some water. Dogs can get sunburned, so protect them. Have a shaded area to rest, like under a tree or in a sheltered space. If no shade is available, bring an umbrella. Use dog sunscreen if your dog may get sunburned. Bring plenty of water along and make sure your dog has constant access to it so they can stay hydrated. Know the signs of dehydration and heat stroke, and if you see symptoms, take your dog to safety and treat them. This should go without saying, but do NOT put your dog in the car without air conditioning to cool them off. A car is like an oven on a hot day, and your dog could be in serious danger if you leave them there.

4. Secure Food And Drinks That Are For Humans Only

Man playing guitar at camper van near dog at remote lakeside

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Some foods and drinks that you find at most picnics are not safe for dogs. Cooked bones, caffeine, alcohol, grapes, raisins, sugary foods, artificial sweeteners, and several other foods/drinks are toxic for dogs. Pack these items in sealed containers that your dog cannot open, and when people are eating or drinking, keep an eye on your dog so they don’t sneak away with anything they shouldn’t have.

5. Bring A Leash, Toys, Poop Bags, And Supplies

Even if you are going to an area where it is okay to be off-leash, you should still have a leash for times where you need to keep your dog close or for emergencies. This is a good chance for your dog to get some exercise outside, so bring a toy with for fetch or something to chew on so they can stay busy. Of course, you should always have poop bags to be courteous and to keep your environment clean so everyone can enjoy the picnic space. Pack any other supplies your dog might need, like a bowl for water or food, towels if your dog plans on swimming or getting wet, and extra toys.

6. Have A First-Aid Kit Handy

Golden Retriever holding First-Aid-Kit

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It’s always a good idea to have a first-aid kit ready to go. It should include bandages, antiseptic, dog-safe bug repellent, and any medication your dog might need. Make sure you have your vet’s phone number saved and check to see where the nearest emergency vet is located, just in case. Hopefully you won’t need any of these things, but it’s better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.

7. Stay Safe Around Fires, Grills, And Fireworks

Sometimes it’s nice to have a campfire or grill at a picnic, and fireworks may be common this time of year. When food is cooking or when a lot of people are gathered around, dogs usually want to investigate, and that can be very dangerous. If there is going to be fire anywhere at your picnic, keep your dog away from it and on-leash when the fire is still burning.

8. Bring Water And Food To Share With Your Pooch

Woman gives her dog a piece of her sandwich.

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A picnic is all about sharing food and drinks with friends and family, so include your dog in the fun. There are lots of human foods that are safe for dogs to eat, though you should double check with your vet to make sure they are appropriate for your dog. Carrots, blueberries, watermelon, apples, cucumbers, and lots of other fruits and veggies are good for dogs so long as you remove the seeds, stems, leaves, cores, etc. Lean meats like chicken or turkey are usually fine for dogs, so long as they don’t have bones, seasoning, salt, or flavoring and are served in moderation. Again, always check with your vet. Be sure to pack plenty of water for the whole time you plan to stay out with your dog, plus extra just in case.

9. Dispose Of Trash Properly

A lot of people forget to keep an eye on their garbage, and dogs are often attracted to the interesting smells. Bones, food containers, unfinished drinks, and more can be toxic or pose choking hazards for dogs, as well as other wildlife in the area. Make sure that you collect all of your trash and dispose of it in a secure dumpster that your dog can’t open. Keep the environment clean so everyone can enjoy it.

What other tips do you have for a safe, fun picnic with dogs? Are you going to have a picnic during National Picnic Month? Let us know in the comments below!

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