Planning a Picnic with Pets

Dog in Camping Chair

With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, summer is the perfect time for a picnic. Planning a picnic is a great way to combine time outdoors with friends, loved ones and great food. With a little extra planning, adding your dog(s) to the mix can make the experience even more fun and memorable.

Set yourself up for success by choosing a dog-friendly park, riverbank, beach or other outdoor space with plenty of shade and space for relaxing. Keep your dog on the leash as you get settled, and only remove the leash if their temperament and local leash laws allow you to do so safely. It’s a great idea to take your dog on a walk to burn off excess energy before your picnic, to make your downtime more relaxing.

Make sure your dog has up-to-date ID tags and a registered microchip for safety. Be sure to bring plenty of clean, cool water and don’t forget a pet-safe water bowl. There are many fun, portable options on the market, or you can keep it simple with a clean plastic dish from home. If your dog normally eats around the same time of day as your picnic, pack a serving of regular dog food, as sharing too much human food could cause digestive upset or other issues. If it’s not a regular mealtime, you can bring your dog’s favorite chew for keeping busy.

On a more serious note, certain foods are dangerous to your dog and should always be avoided. It’s best not to bring these foods on your picnic, but if you do, make sure they are packaged carefully and kept away from your dog. Toxic foods include grapes and raisins, chocolate, onions, avocados, and alcohol. Chicken with bones in it, corn on the cob and peach pits can easily become choking hazards. Also try to avoid any items that contain the sweetener xylitol, such as baked goods, candies, mints, or gum.

Now that we’ve covered all the cautionary tales for your tail-wagging companion, what should you bring on your pet-friendly picnic? Fun picnic foods that are safe to share in moderation include hard boiled eggs, cooked chicken or turkey (with the bones removed), apple slices (with seeds removed), green beans, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, cheese cubes, and peanut butter or Greek yogurt for dipping. Marshmallows make a fun dessert to eat and toss.

When you pack your picnic blanket, add an extra blanket, beach towel or dog bed that can be a special place just for your dog. After all the excitement of running around and eating, you may find that you both need a good spot for a long, lazy summer nap!