How to Enjoy an Outdoor Event Safely with Your Pet
Tips for keeping your pet safe and happy at outdoor events
Based on an article that first appeared at Genius Vets
Summertime is near and social events are popping up everywhere! With Pride Month festivities in full swing this weekend and plenty of other outdoor activities on the calendar this season, it’s a great time to finally get out of the house and join your community in celebration.
While these events can be a great way to spend time with your pet, there are some issues to keep in mind to make sure your pet has a good time and a safe experience. Here are some tips on how you can make sure you enjoy these outdoor community events while keeping your pet happy and healthy.
High temperatures affect all animals, and certain breeds are particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion. Before bringing your pet to an event when the weather is hot, make sure you take into consideration the ability to keep them cool and comfortable. This means making sure ahead of time that you’ll have access to shade and water. If the event is in an urban location on hot pavement, you’ll have to provide protection for their paws or be able to avoid it. Consider the time of day the event is taking place. If it’s an all-day event, go early in the morning before the heat sets in or after dusk when it’s cooling off. If the event is in the hot afternoon sun, it may be best to leave your pet home.
In addition to the heat, owners need to take into consideration other weather conditions, such as thunderstorms, wind, and rain. If your dog gets anxiety from the sound of thunder, you’ll need to be able to get them to a comfortable location should a storm occur. Summer storms can be unpredictable and an isolated thunderstorm can pop up out of nowhere, so it’s important to be able to seek shelter immediately.
Make sure your pet’s identification tags are up to date and legible. This should include a name tag, rabies tag, and any other local licensing needed. It’s also a good idea to make sure the rings used to attach the tags are in good working order. Occasionally the thinner, weaker rings get pulled and separate, causing them to fall off.
Is your pet microchipped? If not, you may want to consider having it done. It’s a beneficial tool in locating your pet should they get lost. It’s also a good idea to have a recent photo of them on your phone (or the old school printed method), should they get loose and run off at an event. Make sure you have all of the proper restraints (collar, harness, leash) and that they are in good condition. As previously mentioned, do not use retractable leashes.
Ah, the smell of onion rings and fried dough! These tasty human treats are delicious to us and although tasty to dogs as well, are very bad for them. Summer is the season of food trucks and fair food. Dog owners need to be very prepared to make sure their pet does not eat any of this human food while out at crowded events. You will either need to train your dog to understand a command such as “leave it” or have them on leash to prevent them from eating anything they shouldn’t. A short leash or one that has a second handle for a short lead is best.
Many strangers in the crowd will think it’s okay to give your dog a little treat, so a short leash will help by keeping your dog closer to you, as well as providing you the opportunity to have a quicker response. If your dog has any food sensitivities that you are already aware of, it’s a good idea to be extra cautious when around that food. Also take extra care around chocolate, onions, alcohol, and coffee. These foods are very toxic to dogs.
Before bringing your pet to a crowded event, it’s important to make sure they have socialization skills and be aware of the level of those skills. Is your pet socialized with both people and other animals? Is your dog leash-aggressive? If you are unable to prevent your dog from pulling you on-leash to chase after another dog, then it may not be time yet to take them to crowded events.
Often in crowds, you will have people pet your animal before asking or overzealous children that are very excitable with your dog. You should have a plan in place for getting between your pet and these people if necessary. Do not use a retractable lead. As mentioned with the food issue, a short leash is the best option. Another consideration before taking your dog into a crowded event is their size. Small dogs run the risk of getting trampled in a crowd, and large dogs take up a lot of space, making it difficult to get around. You will need to be aware of just how crowded an event will be.
Fireworks are really fun for the kiddos, but usually not so much for dogs. While some dogs tolerate the sound of fireworks, many get very anxious and distressed. If you know your dog dislikes fireworks and other loud noises, you should either have a plan in place so you can go with them to a comfortable location before the noise starts, or consider leaving them home to avoid the situation. The same goes if your dog is new to you and you’re unsure how they will react. Be sure to “test the water” in a situation where you can get your dog away from the noise quickly.
In addition to July 4th fireworks, take the noise volume into consideration for whatever event you’re bringing your dog to. Music, large crowds, loud trucks, or motorcycles can all create anxiety for your dog.
Preventive Veterinary Services
In addition to preparedness specifically for these outdoor events, you also want to make sure you have taken care of general health matters for your pet, such as keeping them up to date on their vaccines and preventive medicines. Unfortunately with the onset of the warmer weather come the fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. If you need preventive refills, or if it’s time for your dog’s annual heartworm test, please contact us or schedule an appointment!
If your dog will likely come in contact with standing water and other dogs during the summer, vaccines for leptospirosis, influenza, and bordetella may be recommended.
We hope these tips help you prepare for having some summertime fun with your pet. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your veterinary team.