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Warm weather means cookouts, pool parties, and long days spent outdoors. While most dogs love to spend time outside, there are safety precautions to keep in mind before planning your next backyard BBQ bash. Keep these five tips in mind to ensure you and your dog will have a stress-free summer cookout.
1. Make Sure Your Dog Can’t Escape
It only takes one guest to leave a door or gate open for your pet to get loose. Make sure visitors know you have a dog, and if people are coming and going frequently, consider putting your dog on a lead or in a bedroom or crate.
For any dog, it’s always a good idea to give your dog some private space to retreat to in case they get overwhelmed. Be proactive and give your dog intentional breaks — put your dog’s bed or their crate in a quiet area of the home separate from the gathering.
Puzzle toys or food-stuffed toys can keep your dog occupied. This is an especially good idea if you are going to be distracted and not able to give full attention to your dog, such as when you are putting food on the grill.
2. Keep Your Dog Cool
If your party is outdoors, be sure your pet has plenty of water and access to shade. On especially hot days, it may be best to leave your dog inside. If your pet starts showing signs of heatstroke (restlessness or agitation with vigorous panting or bright-red gums), bring them to a cooler area and contact your veterinarian immediately.
3. Avoid Giving Them Table Scraps
Remind your guests not to give your dog any people food. Barbecued food, especially, can be greasy and upset your pet’s stomach. Keep an eye on the food to make sure your dog does not grab anything. More importantly, certain foods (such as onion, avocado, and grapes) can be toxic. If you’re uncertain if a food is safe for a dog or not, check our full list of cookout foods that are hazardous for dogs or ask your veterinarian before giving it to your pet.
It’s a good idea to make sure your dog eats their meal before your barbecue starts so they will be less tempted by hunger. If your pup is feeling left out while everyone else enjoys their meal, treat them to some BBQ-flavored dog treats.
4. Keep Your Dog Away From Fire
Safety first. Keep your dog away from the grill while you are using it. The open flame is very dangerous. Your dog should not be allowed near the grill even after you have finished cooking, as it stays hot for a while. This shouldn’t be a problem if your dog is trained to stay away from the grill or if your grill is in an area inaccessible to your dog.
5. Prevent Canine Anxiety
Many summer holidays call for fireworks or other loud noises, much to the dismay of our skittish, four-legged friends. Remember that dogs don’t understand those loud explosions are only for fun. Many dogs each year run away from home after being spooked by these loud sounds.
Playing recordings of fireworks accompanied by treats in months ahead can help desensitize dogs to the sound of fireworks. Otherwise, confine your pet in a safe place, offer them treats during the fireworks, and/or talk to your veterinarian about medication options or possible anxiety aids (such as CBD oil for dogs).