May 23, 2018

How to Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend Safely With Your Pets

a cat with an american flag hat

As the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day is a great excuse to get outdoors and celebrate with your family and friends—including your four-legged ones. Whether you’re attending a party, barbequing or just soaking up some rays, it’s important to keep your pet’s safety in mind. To prevent any Memorial Day mishaps, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has put together some tips to help protect pets during the “Dog Days” of the season.

Party Smart

Barbeques are probably one of the most popular Memorial Day activities, but remember that cookouts can bring with them potential dangers for your pets, including citronella torches, grills and a bevy of food and drinks. Be sure to keep alcoholic beverages away from animals, and remind guests not to give them any table scraps or snacks. Be aware and keep your pets away from dishes that may contain raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and avocado—they’re all especially toxic to animals. You may also want to consult the full APCC list of people foods to avoid giving your pets.  

Be Cool Near the Pool

Never leave your pets unsupervised around a pool or lake—not all dogs are expert swimmers. If your pet seems like they would enjoy a swim, introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they always wear flotation devices when on boats. 

Also, try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains potentially dangerous chemicals like chlorine. Many pool chemicals will cause burns to the mouth, throat and stomach, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your pet when they are around the pool. Also, be sure to keep any extra chemicals stored out of paws’ reach.

Skip the Spray

Unless specifically designed for animals, insect repellant and sunscreen can be toxic to pets. Signs of repellent toxicity include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. DEET, a common insecticide in products for humans, may also cause neurological issues in dogs.

Listen to a recent APCC podcast to learn more about the possible dangers sunscreen may pose for your pet.

Made in the Shade

Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so if you’re spending time outside, ensure that they have plenty of fresh, clean water and make sure that they have a shady place to get out of the sun. You’ll also want to note that animals with flat faces—like Pugs and Persian cats—are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with those who are elderly, overweight or have heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.  

IDs, Please

Time spent outdoors comes with the added risk of curious pets escaping. Make sure that your pet is fitted with a microchip or ID tag with identifying information, or (preferably) both. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Opt for a Humane Holiday

Everyone loves a Memorial Day barbecue, but for those who eat meat, eggs or dairy, avoiding the worst factory-farmed products can be tricky. Make sure your Memorial Day meals are farm-animal friendly by checking out our Shop With Your Heart resources, like the “grocery list” of welfare-certified meat, eggs and dairy brands, as well as plant-based alternatives.

Keep an eye on your road trip companions. 

If you will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend, make sure to never leave your pet in your car unattended, and keep a close eye on any personal items stashed in your car that your pet might ingest (e.g., gum or medications). Read APCC’s tips for safely traveling with your pets to learn more.

As we celebrate this holiday, we also want to stop and reflect on the men and women who have sacrificed for our country. This Memorial Day, we honor them. Have a happy, safe and healthy holiday with your loved ones!

For more safety tips and helpful resources, download the APCC mobile app and the ASPCA mobile app to stay informed and aware year-round!

If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately with our 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.