Memorial Day weekend is the official summer kick-off and perhaps the first three-day weekend you have had in months. Besides paying tribute to those who died for our country, many people spend the holiday swimming at the local beach, hosting a backyard barbeque, or just relaxing with friends and family. These are all activities that dogs enjoy as well. Unfortunately, the busyness of a holiday weekend makes it easier for your dog to become ill or sustain an injury. As long as you remember to supervise her, most incidents can be avoided.
 
Grills and Dogs Are a Bad Combination
Your dog could easily burn himself by jumping up on the grill trying to score a tasty treat. Additionally, lighter fluid and matches are toxic to dogs if swallowed. Matches can cause kidney and blood cell damage as well as difficulty breathing. The most common effects of ingesting lighter fluid include gastric and respiratory distress as well as skin irritation. Eating uncooked food dropped near the grill is not safe for your dog either. It’s best to keep him in the house or his kennel while the grill is in use.

Be Sure to Follow Your Dog’s Regular Diet
While you may avoid giving your dog table scraps, it’s important to let other guests know to do the same. Avocados, grapes, onions, raisins, and yeast dough are particularly harmful for pets. Alcohol can cause severe illness even in small doses. A large amount of alcohol can put your dog in a coma that he may not recover from. If anyone seems to think that getting a dog drunk would be funny, let them know it’s a cruel practice that you won’t allow.
 
Swimming Doesn’t Come Naturally to All Dogs
Some dog breeds will naturally start swimming in water but this isn’t true of all of them. Those with short legs and a large chest area may sink instead of swim. If you take your dog swimming over the Memorial Day weekend, make sure you’re within an arm’s length of her in the water. Keep in mind that everyone in a boat needs a life jacket, even your dog.
 
Don’t Forget the Insect Repellent and Sunscreen
Protecting your dog from insect bites and sunburn is important, but make sure you buy products meant for dogs and not people. Human sunscreen and insect repellent can cause diarrhea, drooling, excessive thirst, lethargy, vomiting, nervous system damage, pneumonia, and respiratory distress. Follow the product instructions and be sure to re-apply throughout the day if your dog will be outside for a long time.

In Case of an Emergency
If you’re traveling over Memorial Day weekend, make sure your dog has proper identification. A change in routine can be both exciting and stressful for your dog, which makes it more likely he will run off. We also recommend traveling with a pet first-aid kit and keeping one stocked at home. For urgent situations with your pet during regular office hours, please contact Battletown Animal Clinic at 540-955-2171. After hours, you may contact Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Service at 540-662-7811. This includes weekends and holidays.