Fair Game: Pet Safety at Summer Festivals


If there’s one thing to love about summer, it’s all of the fun in the sun at outdoor events. From concerts to fireworks to food truck rallies, there’s no shortage of things to do this season. While many events were not pet-friendly in the past, more and more are opening their doors to the four-footed among us. Here’s what you need to know before you go to keep your dog safe and happy.

First thing’s first!
Don’t leave home without:

  • 4-ft. leash (NOT retractable)
  • portable water dish + water
  • pet formulated sunscreen
  • ID tag with your cell phone number
  • poo bags

parked cars
Even on mild days your car gets HOT, which can turn fatal in as little as 15 minutes. Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows cracked. If he’s not feeling the festival, you need to call it a day.

When temperatures are peaking, take frequent breaks in the shade. It’s also a good idea to  bring along a spray bottle so you can deliver a cooling spritz whenever your dog needs it.

beer tents
Nothing refreshes like a cold beer on a hot day, but never share your Bud with your bud. Alcohol is toxic to pets, even in seemingly “harmless” amounts.

food trucks
Chicken wings,  Mexican street corn and funnel cake, oh my! They may be staple fare at summer fairs, but they don’t belong on Fido’s plate. Bones, cobs and greasy fats can cause intestinal blockages and pancreatitis. Pack fresh veggies for a healthy treat.

other dogs
It’s always fun to make new friends, but remember that dogs can easily become overstimulated in a busy environment. Keep meetings with other animals brief, and if you see either pet stiffen, growl, or give a hard stare or side eye, end the introduction and take a time out.

Fireworks are a summertime favorite—but your dog may not always enjoy them. Avoid events with explosives if your pup suffers from noise phobias (if he doesn’t like thunderstorms, that’s a good clue). If you do bring your pet to a festival with fireworks, hold on tight to his leash; a startled pup may try to bolt from the blast, and you don’t want to lose your dog in the crowd!

Keep an eye on your dog when your favorite band takes the stage, and remove him to a quiet area if you notice any signs of discomfort. If your pup is trembling, barking, cowering, or trying to bolt, he may not be ready to rock and roll.

A crackling campfire feels quintessentially summer, but can tempt curious noses and cause accidental burns. Keep furry friends a safe distance from the flames. If you’re making s’mores be sure chocolate, wrappers and roasting sticks don’t fall into the wrong paws.

If a “rain or shine” event turns soggy, keep your dog from drinking from puddles. Standing water can  be contaminated with insecticides and fertilizer, not to mention nasty bacteria like leptospirosis and giardia, all of which can cause nasty illnesses that will rain on your parade. Be sure to bring plenty of fresh drinking water instead!

Unfortunately, there may be times when furry festivalgoers behave better than two-legged guests. Stay away from rowdy crowds and avoid letting intoxicated people hound your dog. Remember that children can be unpredictable, so keep your pup a safe distance away.

Whether you’re sun worshipping or stargazing, summer fairs and festivals are fun for the whole family. With your best friend in tow, there’s more to prepare for, but with a little planning it’s easy to put safety first.

— published in fetch! magazine, the “Fun in the Sun” issue