It’s almost Labor Day and families throughout the United States are planning mini-vacations, barbecues and other celebrations for the three-day weekend ahead. Holiday gatherings can be fun for the whole family, pets included, so long as precautions are taken to ensure that pets stay safe during the festivities. I’ve provided safety tips for the traditional Labor Day activities of camping, boating and grilling.
Labor Day Barbecue Safety
What better way to enjoy a long weekend than with a last big barbecue before the end of the summer? Labor Day and grilling go together like Halloween and candy. But don’t forget your pets’ safety as you fire up the ol’ barbie. Keep pets safely away from the grill while cooking to prevent smoke inhalation and to keep them out of range in case you drop a hot grilling utensil.
If you want to let your pets share in the feast, don’t feed them cooked meat, cooked bones or anything with barbecue sauce on it. Pets can enjoy a raw meaty bone like a turkey neck during your dinner, provided they don’t eat kibble for 12 hours before or afterward. If it’s your pet’s first time eating raw meat, add some canned pumpkin to avoid diarrhea.
Labor Day Camping Safety
If you’re planning a camping trip over the long weekend, find a pet-friendly campground and take your dog(s) along. Dogs love to see new sights and smell new scents, and a wilderness area is perfect for that activity.
Keep dogs safe while camping by bringing enough water from home to last through the trip, plus some. Don’t let dogs drink out of lakes or streams in wilderness areas, which could harbor giardia or other harmful protozoans. Keep dogs on leash around the campground, for their safety and the convenience of other campers. If you hike during your camping trip, keep your dog on leash and don’t allow it to harass wildlife–you could get slapped with a fine of thousands of dollars if a park ranger sees your pet chasing a native species.
Labor Day Boating Safety
First things first: Everyone on a boat needs to wear a life jacket, period. That means dogs, too. Most pet dogs aren’t strong swimmers, lacking the opportunity to practice frequently. Even a dog that is used to boating may jump off a boat if startled and wind up in deep water and too shocked about it to remember how to swim.
Avoid letting your dog drink from a lake while boating. Bring a jug of clean water and dish on board to provide safe, clean water when your dog is thirsty. If you’ll be fishing, resist the temptation to toss your dog a raw fish fresh out of the lake. He’d enjoy it, but he wouldn’t enjoy the parasites likely living in its GI tract. Instead, freeze a fish for three weeks after you get home and then feed it to your dog. The freezing will kill most harmful organisms and render the meal as safe as any raw fish.