Photo submitted by West Chester Veterinary Clinic

Are Summer Festivals Appropriate for Our Furry Friends?

The sun is shining and the temperatures are soaring… it’s a good time to be outside in Ohio!  We have so many opportunities to enjoy local fairs and festivals in Southern Ohio with our friends and family, but should we be including the four-pawed members of our household?  Pet experts vary on this opinion.  Many veterinarians and trainers encourage pet owners to leave Fido at home in the air conditioning versus exposing them to the dangers of crowded, overheated, loud events.  Others say that, with appropriate precautions, it is absolutely a fantastic way to socialize your dog to a variety of people.

Dog-Friendly Events: 

Always check with the organizers that the event you plan to attend does allow pets.  The larger, multi-day Festivals such as Coachella and Bunbury strictly forbid dogs (with the exception of service dogs)  But block parties, street fairs and farmer’s market may be just the place to include your dog in outdoor activities.

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Event-Friendly Dogs: 

For the well-being of your dog and other attendees, make sure that your dog is comfortable in crowds.  This means your dog should not startle easily or be aggressive towards other dogs. When dogs feel threatened or scared, they are more likely to bite.  And dogs are free game to petting toddlers and large humans at crowded events, so watch them carefully.  Puppies that have not be fully vaccinated should NEVER attend a crowded event.  Nor should frail or small dogs that could be stepped on or otherwise hurt in the press of a crowd.  It is not appropriate to expose young dogs to a crowd as a socialization exercise… too many things could go wrong and that is something that is very difficult for a puppy to recover from.  Instead of having a crowd-savvy dog, you may have just created a fearful and untrusting pup.

Make Like a Scout and Be Prepared! 

  • While there may be plenty of human refreshments available at the venue, it is important to bring food and water for your pet as well.  Speaking of funnel cake: keep a close eye on your dog… he should not be eating the wide variety of fried foods that litter the ground.  Dogs can develop an extremely painful condition called pancreatitis from ingesting fatty foods. 
  • Hydration is extremely vital for dogs.  Not only are they wearing fur coats, they are closer to the ground where it is often hotter due to the lack of air circulation.  Give them plenty of shade-breaks on cool grass, keep them off the scalding hot asphalt, and make sure they are wearing dog-approved sunscreen, insect-repellent, shades or visors to cut down on sun damage.
  • Potty Etiquette is important as well.  Give your pet potty breaks away from the distraction of the festival.  Make sure you bring bags and dispose of waste in the many trash cans that can be found on-site.  If your dog feels the need to mark territory throughout the festival, leave him home next time.
  • Have you ever been to an event and observed a child clutching their ears in obvious distress?  Dogs’ ears are a thousand times more sensitive.  Keep them away from speakers, or invest in Mutt Muffs to protect their delicate ears.
  • Proper and up-to-date identification is vital to ensure you can quickly retrieve a lost pet.  Make sure your dog’s collar tags have your cell phone information on them and that their microchip identification is up to date (if they slip out of their collar).  Some events even mandate that the dog have a current license in their county of residence. 

Your entire family can enjoy the fair if you follow these safety precautions.  One final tip: Fido may be ready to call it a day before you are: look for signs of fatigue and irritability and get him home to rest up, the only thing worse than a cranky toddler is a grumpy greyhound!

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