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The 4 Most Common Labor Day Dangers for Pets


Labor Day is a holiday that, for many, involves outdoor activities, BBQs, family fun, and being in the sun. If you’re one of these people, and you have pets, below are safety topics to help you avoid a trip to the emergency vet!

1. Heatstroke

As with people, heatstroke is a life-threatening condition, but it can easily be avoided with proper care and preparation. Heatstroke can happen in less than an hour, and in some cases, within minutes! Dogs cannot shed heat as easily as humans can, so it’s much easier for them to overheat. To prevent your dog from getting overheated, he or she should have access to shade and fresh water at all times. DO NOT leave your dog outside unattended for extended periods of time and NEVER leave your dog in a car on a hot day.

If your pet is displaying any signs of heatstroke, seek immediate veterinary care:

  • Excessive panting
  • Change in alertness/responsiveness
  • Wobbly gait or inability to walk
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Black tarry stool

2. Too Much Sun

Dogs and cats can get sunburns, and like it is for humans, it can be painful. Some pets need more sun protection than others. Pets with light coats, pets with no hair or very short, thin hair, and pets with underlying health conditions worsened by UV rays (such as immune-mediated skin diseases) are at higher risk for sunburn. We recommend talking to your family veterinarian about pet-friendly sunscreens. It is important to note that sunscreen used on people should NEVER be used on pets, as some types of sunscreen can be very toxic to pets.

3. Boating

First and foremost, if boating makes your pet scared or anxious, avoid bringing your pet on a boat! If your pet is comfortable on the boat and you do bring your pet boating, avoid going fast and making sharp turns, as dogs and cats can easily fall out of the boat or out of your arms. Your pet should ALWAYS wear a fitted lifejacket. Lifejackets can be purchased at your local pet store or online. As with people, the lifejacket should fit snuggly but not so tight as to become uncomfortable.

4. BBQs

During Labor Day weekend (and many other holidays,) the most common cause of ER visits for dogs and cats is for complications after eating something they shouldn’t. It is very tempting to let your pets have treats and table scraps, but please resist those puppy eyes! There are a number of foods that should NEVER be given to your pet, such as:

  • Corn on the Cob
    If your dog eats a corncob, he/she probably didn’t chew it into nice, small pieces. This means the cob is one large chunk that will need to be surgically removed from the intestines. Seek immediate veterinary care if your pet eats a corncob.
  • Bones
    Whether chicken, beef, or pork, bones should be avoided as they can cause an obstruction or puncture your pet’s intestines. Round bones might also get stuck around your pet’s lower jaw.
  • Toxic Foods
    NEVER give your pet chocolate, grapes, raisins, products containing xylitol, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and alcohol. For a complete list, click here.
  • Salty/Fatty or Seasoned Foods
    Do not let your pet eat foods that are high in salt or fat. They may seem harmless, but these foods could cause an upset stomach or pancreatitis. Chips and other junk food can be a problem, as well as foods that may seem healthy like cooked chicken breast, seasoned carrots, or mashed potatoes. If your pet starts to vomit, have diarrhea, becomes lethargic or stops eating, please seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

We hope this information helps you keep your pet safe this Labor Day weekend! If your pet does experience an emergency this weekend, remember both our St. Paul and Oakdale clinics are open 24/7, every day of the year. Our team is ready to help!

More Labor Day safety tips for pets here!

HAVE A NON-MEDICAL QUESTION? FOR MEDICAL QUESTIONS, PLEASE CALL US.

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