How to have a fun and safe long weekend with your pet

Published: August 28, 2019

dog-on-dock-with-people-on-boats-in-water Photo by sherwood/Shutterstock

We’re just days away from the long weekend, and families across Canada will be making the most of these final moments of summer. If you plan on including a four-legged companion in your Labour Day adventures, here are some tips to keep everyone safe and happy.

Enjoy one last summer weekend at the cottage

Labour Day weekend is often the last of those hot, lazy summer weekends at the lake. If you’re heading to a cottage this weekend, there are simple precautions that will help keep your pet safe. Be sure to have the contact information of a local vet and/or after hours clinic.

You should also familiarize yourself with the local snake population and keep your dog on leash if necessary, recommends Dr. Sarah Loree, a veterinarian at Huntsville Animal Hospital. Ask your vet for a pet first aid kit and keep it on hand to treat minor wounds. Loree also recommends asking your vet for an antihistamine dose in case a bug bite results in an unexpected allergic reaction. “This can save your pet’s life if they go into anaphylactic shock,” she explains. “Watch for swelling of the face and difficulty breathing as this can be fatal.”

If you’re staying at a friend’s place or a rental cottage, ask if there are any rodent prevention methods in use. You may want to temporarily remove traps, particularly if poison is in use. If your dog does ingest something they shouldn’t have, be sure to seek treatment immediately. With a little bit of prevention, your weekend should be all fun and no drama!

Go camping

Camping with pets can be a lot of fun, and Labour Day is a great reason to pitch a tent and enjoy nature. Dr. Loree suggests taking caution around campfires, which are a common cause of animal injuries. While a dog won’t necessary go near an active fire, it’s important to thoroughly extinguish flames and cool down hot coals once the fire is no longer in use. Additionally, you’ll want to be tick safe while out in the woods. “If you’re spending your long weekend in a high deer density area, it’s very important to think of tick prevention,” Loree explains. “Make sure your pet is on monthly flea/tick/heartworm prevention medication if they are at the cottage as Lyme disease is becoming increasingly more prevalent around cottage country. Prevention is far superior to treatment of tick-borne diseases.”

Take a hike

There are many opportunities to go hiking over the long weekend, whether you’re in town, at a cottage or camping deep in the woods. It’s important to stay hydrated, so remember the water for your family — including your pets. “If your dog is prone to overheating, especially any flat-faced /brachycephalic friends — bulldogs, shih tzus, and pugs, make sure to cool them down,” Dr. Loree recommends.

“Pets sweat through their paw pads, so an easy way to cool them down is to submerge their feet in water. Ice baths are discouraged as quick drops in temperature can be detrimental. There are cooling vests available, but care should be taken not to exercise them at peak sunshine hours.” Be sure that the trail you’re on is dog-friendly and if your pet does encounter a wild animal, take them to a vet for treatment. You should never try to remove porcupine quills on your own, Loree cautions, as a vet will sedate your pet to safely and humanely remove them.

Hit the water

Whether swimming or going on a boat ride, there’s nothing like being on the water in cottage country, so get out there and have fun, and feel free to bring your dog along. Dr. Loree recommends checking local water advisories before allowing your pet to swim (good advice for humans, too!) and having your pet wear a life jacket when on or near the water. “A life jacket is helpful if your dog tries to swim out too far and tires if they are not used to swimming. It also helps prevent too much swallowing of water.”

Have a BBQ

Everybody loves a summer BBQ — including your pet. Just remember, many dogs will run at the sound of fireworks, so if you’ll be setting some off, ensure that your pets are secured in a safe place. It’s also good to look for any kebab skewers that have been left out and dispose of them, as these can be dangerous for animals if ingested. Keep your dog away from foods that aren’t animal-friendly a.k.a. grapes, chocolate, raisins, garlic, and onions are a few that Dr. Loree mentions — and have fun. (Remember, you can have all the chocolate your want!)

Remember car safety

If you’re traveling this weekend and need to make stops along the way, look for places that allow you to bring your pet inside. Many restaurants allow dogs on leash to join their families on a patio, which is a great option when stopping for lunch. An animal should never be left in a car, even on a seemingly mild summer day; the inside of a vehicle will heat up quickly and create a dangerous situation. Instead, find a pet-friendly store to shop in (you can call ahead and ask what their policy is) and choose a restaurant with outdoor seating.

No matter what you do this long weekend, your pet will be happy to be a part of it. As Dr. Loree sums things up, “As long as your dog is with its family, they are happy — regardless of what you are doing!”

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