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National Picnic Week: Here’s how to have a paw-some picnic with your pet

Here’s how to have a paw-some picnic with your pet

With the weather warming up, most of us would rather spend time outdoors – keeping our furry friends involved where safe and possible. For those of us with nosey or curious dogs, however, organising a picnic with a pet can be a slightly daunting prospect.

That’s why, ahead of National Picnic Week (17-25 June 2023), leading vet charity PDSA has shared its top tips for a re-bark-ably peaceful picnic with a dog. The key, according to PDSA Vet Lynne James, is just a bit of forward planning.

Stay cool

“While it’s tempting to choose a sunny day to take advantage of the warmer weather, be mindful of the temperature,” she explains. “Pets are at risk of life-threatening heatstroke and also sunburn, so avoid going out when it’s warm, and always choose a spot with plenty of shade. You can also bring a pop-up sun shelter to keep them protected.

“Make sure your pet has access to plenty of clean, fresh water while you’re out to keep them hydrated. Collapsible bowls are a great space saving item to take with you when you’re out and about – including at picnics.

“There are also plenty of tools you can use to keep your pet cool, including cooling collars, mats for them to lie on, and toys. But remember, if in doubt, don’t go out – your dog will be cooler and safer staying at home.

“If you are worried about the weather, consider having a garden picnic instead. Your dog will be able to go inside if they get too warm, and you don’t have to worry about car travel or walking them to a picnic destination.”

Keep your food safe

“Dogs are curious by nature and can often be food-motivated– so it’s only natural that they should want to investigate your food (and perhaps even take a bite or two). Yet some human foods are toxic or dangerous for dogs, and you wouldn’t want your pet eating your entire lunch!

“First, think about what you’ll be taking the food in. A basket or bag that can be closed and secured are ideal to keep a potential food thief at bay. You can also try zip bags and lunchboxes.

“Second, keep your dog busy while you’re eating. They’re likely to be intrigued by your own food, so why not bring them a snack to distract them? You can even make your own cooling treats at home.

“Finally, be mindful of the food you’ll be bringing. Accidents do happen, and dogs can be quick to jump on food that is dropped on the floor. That’s why we always recommend avoiding bringing foods that are harmful to dogs altogether – including chocolates, grapes, food on skewers, and meat on the bone.”

Leave room for playtime

“If the weather is cool enough to play, factor in some time for this before you settle to eat. This way, your dog can burn off any extra energy and which will help them to be more relaxed when it’s time for you to eat.

“Bringing toys to keep your pets entertained is always a great idea, and tools such as puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your dog engaged away from your snacks.”

Beware of natural hazards

“Watch out for insect or bee stings, which are very common over the spring and summer season. These can be treated at home, providing they’re not severe and haven’t triggered an allergic reaction.

“Common signs of an allergic reaction include rapid swelling – often of the lips, eyes, ears and face – vomiting or diarrhoea, as well as breathing difficulties. Rarely, it could also cause your pet to collapse or faint.

“If the swelling is located around your pet’s face, neck or throat, or if they have difficulties breathing, call your vet immediately and take your pet there, keeping them as cool as possible.”

Make sure your dog is on a lead

“You likely won’t be the only picnickers out and about, so make sure everyone can enjoy their day by keeping your dog on a lead. This will ensure your dog isn’t tempted by other people’s lunch! You could use a sturdy ground tether in a shady spot to attach their lead to.”

For more advice on how to care for your pet over the summer, visit:

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