Barbecue Safety for Shy and Sociable Pets
You have one pet who never meets a stranger and one who hides under the couch when you have company. You want to ensure they are both prepared for your upcoming barbecue. Our team at Harbor Pines Veterinary Center wants to help, so we are checking in on two pets whose owner is hosting an outdoor gathering, to get their thoughts on the subject.
Davey the dachshund:
“Our humans have been busy all day. They barely had time to walk me, and I noticed they left the gate open when they brought in the groceries. Maybe I will go visit my buddy down the street while they are distracted.”
Sheila the Siamese:
“I really do not like all the commotion. If Davey is leaving, I may go too, and find a quieter place to hide out until our humans calm down.”
Harbor Pines Veterinary Center (HPVC): When planning a gathering, your attention tends to be focused on preparations as opposed to your pets. Whether they take the opportunity to escape through an open door or gate, or they feel frightened because they do not like the upheaval, they can easily become lost if they run away. Ensure your pets are wearing a collar and accurate identification. The veterinary professionals at Harbor Pines Veterinary Center will be happy to come to your home to implant a microchip, which is the best, permanent method to find your pet should they go missing.
“So many people have come to see me! I am so excited! I love meeting new people, smelling all the smells, and getting all the pets!”
“Who are these people, and why are they in my house? This is horrible, and I am feeling stressed and upset. I may go pee in my owner’s shoes to let them know how I feel.”
HPVC: Some pets experience stress and anxiety when around people they do not know. If your pet is shy and tends to hide when you have company, they will likely be more comfortable sequestered in a room away from the party before the festivities begin. Leave the television playing to mask any loud noises that may scare them. You can also leave a food puzzle toy to help distract them from the commotion.
“Yummy looking food is everywhere. I think I can convince a few partygoers to slip me a tasty morsel when my owner is not looking.”
“I do not want to go near the guests, but I think I will see what I can find in the garbage. People usually throw away leftover treats at parties like this.”
HPVC: You may be tempted to give your pet food from your plate, but this practice can result in gastrointestinal upset for your four-legged companion. Cooked bones are especially problematic for pets because they can fracture easily, and injure your pet’s esophagus or intestine. Inform your guests that they are not to give your pet any food. If your pet goes scavenging, they may ingest a foreign body, such as plastic wrap or corn on the cob, that would cause an intestinal blockage. Ensure all food and garbage is in sealed containers, inaccessible to your pet. Certain common foods, such as chocolate, avocados, alcohol, and onions, are toxic for your pet. If your pet ingests toxic food, call us, or Animal Poison Control immediately.
“I have been so excited about the party that I did not realize how hot I am. I need to take a break in the shade for a little while.”
“I am hot, too, and our humans have been so distracted by the party that they forgot to refill our water bowls. This is not acceptable, and I am going to sharpen my claws on their new couch to express my disdain.”
HPVC: Pets are highly susceptible to heatstroke, since they cannot sweat like humans, and dehydrated pets are more at risk. Signs include lethargy, excessive panting and drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and collapse. If your pet shows heatstroke signs, take them to a cool area, and wet their coat with cool water. They will need to be seen by a veterinary professional as soon as possible.
“I was having fun, but now bright lights and loud noises are everywhere. I do not know what is happening, and I am so scared!”
“I am terrified, and I will probably have to live the remainder of my life under the bed. My heart is beating a mile a minute, and I may never recover from this horrifying experience.”
HPVC: Many pets find fireworks frightening, and some pets develop noise phobias in response to the displays. The extreme stress and anxiety can cause physiologic effects, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and circulating cortisol levels. These conditions are not good for your pet’s emotional or physical health. When possible, avoid fireworks encounters for your pet. If this is not possible, and your pet displays extreme stress during the displays, consider noise aversion therapy to help your pet cope with their fear.
Davey and Sheila are glad the party is over. By following their cues, your pets can stay safe and stress-free at your outdoor gathering. However, if your pet encounters a problem during the festivities, do not hesitate to contact our team at Harbor Pines Veterinary Center to schedule an appointment. We want your pet to be not only safe, but also stress free.