The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, you’ve nothing to do and all day to do it… the perfect time for a picnic, then. But why picnic alone when you could bring your dog along for the ride? Rather than leaving your pet home-alone, bring them along to enjoy some fun in the sun. There’s no doubt they’ll thank you for it, and you’ll probably have a lot more fun as well. That said, picnics can be fraught with some surprising dangers for our pets, from too much sun exposure to too much of the wrong kind of food. Keep the dangers at bay and your pet safe with these top tips for having a fun and safe picnic with your dog.
Keep their nose out of the picnic basket
If a dog gets even the faintest whiff of food, they’ll do everything in the power to get it. Don’t rely on good manners and proper breeding to keep your dog in check around the picnic basket – not unless you want to deal with an upset picnic basket and an even unhappier pooch. Many foods can be dangerous to dogs – even, in some cases, lethal. Xylitol, chocolate, onions, and even raisins all pose a big risk to your dog’s health, so make sure they can’t get their chops around any off-limits grub. If your picnic basket has a lid, use it. If it doesn’t, fashion one yourself out of some sturdy material and plenty of rubber bands.
Don’t give them bones
If you’re enjoying a rotisserie chicken as part of your picnic, don’t try to bring your dog into the enjoyment by giving them any of the bones. Sure, they’ll be grateful, but the gratitude will soon wear off when they get a bone stuck in their throat, or a fragment breaks off and rips up their mouth. Equally, keep them away from any large chunks of fat or gristle – however much they like the taste, it won’t do their tummies any good in the long run.
Don’t keep them in the car
If you’re going to the effort of taking your dog to a picnic, then do exactly that. And no, that doesn’t mean leaving them in the car while you enjoy some fun and games in the park. As pethealthnetwork.com wisely notes, cars can heat up to unbearable temperatures in almost no time at all. If you’ve parked in the sun and it’s 78 degrees outside, the inside of the car can reach as much as 160 degrees – leave your dog in that kind of heat for long, and it could be fatal. Don’t think you can get away with leaving them in the car if you park in the shade, either – even if the car’s parked directly under a canopy of trees, the internal temperature could still rise to a boiling 90 degrees. Considering a dog can develop heat stroke and suffocate in less than five minutes, it pays to play it safe and never leave them unattended.
Keep them leashed
A trip to somewhere new is exciting for a dog. They’ll get to experience a whole new world of smells, sounds, people, and sights. And if there’s one thing we know about dogs, it’s that impulse control isn’t their forte. If they catch a whiff of something new and thrilling, they’ll be off sooner than you can say ‘stay’. And if they’re in unfamiliar surroundings, there’s not always a guarantee they’ll make it safely back. Keep them safe by keeping them leashed. It should also stand to reason that they should be chipped and wearing an ID tag, just in case the worse does happen.
Pick a dog-friendly location
If you want to take your dog on a picnic, make sure that wherever you choose is going to welcome them. Not all parks and nature spots are dog friendly. Do as Dogtime.com recommends and save yourself a wasted journey by doing a little research online or calling your local park district beforehand.
Keep them cool
We aren’t the only creatures that can get a little hot and bothered with too much sun. Dogs can suffer from dehydration, over-heating, and sunburn just as much as we can. Make sure you carry plenty of water with you and encourage them to take a drink as often as possible. If they start to look like they’re flagging in the heat, take action immediately by repairing to the shade and avoiding any excessive activity.
A beach is no place to find yourself without a poop bag. Work out exactly what necessities you’ll need to keep your pet (and everyone else) happy before you leave, and make sure you take a few spares just in case. Food, water, towels, a leash, some food and water bowls, and a toy or two for them to play with (a frisbee and a tennis ball will usually do) should be on the list, as should plenty of poop bags.
Look out for dangers
Summertime might be lovely, but it comes with some added risks for pets that you really need to be aware of. Fireworks, grills, and campfires are all common occurrences at this time of year, and all three can be a danger to your pet. Stay vigilant and never allow your dog to venture anywhere near a campfire or grill – one wag of their tail too many, and you could have a catastrophe on your hands.
Walk before you eat
As Chewy notes, you’ll usually have a more enjoyable picnic if your dog is a little bit pooped before you sit down to eat. If you want to enjoy your picnic in peace, make sure to give them a good, long walk before you eat – that way, you’ll get to enjoy your meal without worrying about them tearing off or demanding any extra playtime.