Millions of people will attend a “big football party” this Sunday, ready to watch their hometown heroes battle in the world’s biggest championship game. While these events can be a fun-fest for humans, large game-day gatherings can be hazardous for pets. Help make your pet safe and happy this year with these game-day guidelines.
1. People food is off limits! Always place trays of food out of reach of your beloved pets and keep your cooking and food preparation areas clean. Don’t leave pieces of food on the counter (pits from fruit and bones can be choking hazards), and be sure to bag and secure garbage where it’s out of reach of your pets. Know what human foods are dangerous to your pets (see our list below) and never leave those foods unattended while animals are around. Be sure to politely let your guests know that people food – and alcohol – is off limits to your pets.
2. Play it smart while playing dress up. It can be fun to deck your pet out in Seahawks gear for the big game, just be sure you let your beloved friend unleash their 12th Man spirit without constricting their inner animal spirit. Dogs are excitable (especially during large gatherings) and prone to jumping around. Be aware of this and make sure their game gear isn’t too hot or constrictive.
3. Be aware of your pet’s sensitive nature. Many pets are skittish around crowds and loud noises (like cheering if you’re attending a Seahawks party, or wailing if you’re heading to a Broncos gathering). If you're attending a tailgating party, leave pets at home. If you're hosting the party at your house, ensure your pet has a quiet place to get away from the commotion in case they need a break.
4. Your pets may want to join in the fun by cheering with or yelling at the TV too. Help them expend their excess energy by taking dogs for a walk around the block during half time. If your dog jumps up and down or runs in circles, incorporate that into a touchdown dance you do together. It’ll help them work out their energy and feel like they’re part of the gathering
5. Reward your pet for putting up with all the extra people and noise by thanking them with some extra cuddling or toy time.
6. Familiarize yourself with the list of foods that pose a danger to pets (listed below) and get help right away if you think they’ve ingested harmful food. Before the game, be sure to post the number for your veterinarian or local animal emergency clinic to your fridge so you have it on hand should an emergency arise.
Below is a list of common people foods that can be harmful, or even deadly, to animals.
Avocado: Containing a toxin known as persin, avocados can be lethal to birds and rabbits. In some dogs and cats, the ingested toxin can cause stomach upset. But the real danger is in the pit. If swallowed, it can result in obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, a serious condition requiring urgent care.
Bread dough: Raw bread dough made with live yeast can result in an expanding mass of dough in the stomach, which can decrease blood flow to the stomach wall and lead to breathing difficulty due to pressure on the diaphragm. Extreme cases can lead to coma or seizures and sometimes death.
Chocolate: Any product that contains chocolate, like cookies, brownies, baking goods, cocoa powder, and candy are considered dangerous. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it’s considered, with dark baker’s chocolate and dry, unsweetened cocoa powder containing the highest levels of toxicity. The type and amount of chocolate ingested will determine how the animal reacts. Signs range from vomiting and restlessness to muscle tremors, irregular heart beat, high body temperature, seizures, and death. Take any animal displaying more than just mild restlessness to a veterinarian immediately.
Ethanol (Ethyl Alcohol, Grain Alcohol, or Drinking Alcohol): Ethanol is much more potent to animals than humans. Just a very small amount can result in intoxication. Keep dogs and cats away from your guests’ alcoholic beverages, syrups with a trace of alcohol, and raw yeast bread dough. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death may occur. Monitor any animals showing any signs of intoxication (lack of coordination, disorientation, abnormal thirst) and take any animal that can’t stand up to a veterinarian immediately.
Grapes and Raisins: These seemingly harmless fruits are associated with kidney failure in dogs and cats. Animals experiencing toxicosis from grapes or raisins usually develop vomiting, lethargy, or diarrhea within 12 hours of ingestion. More severe signs include the animal becoming increasingly lethargic and dehydrated, a refusal to eat, and then an increase in urination followed by decreased or absent urination in later stages. Kidney failure may result in death within three to four days, or long-term kidney disease may persist in animals that survive the acute intoxication. Take any animal displaying any signs of toxicosis to a veterinarian immediately.
Hops: Both fresh and cooked hops used for brewing beer are associated with poisoning animals to a life-threatening extent. Affected animals display an uncontrollably high body temperature (often greater than 108 degrees Fahrenheit), resulting in damage to and failure of multiple organ systems. Signs of hops poisoning include restlessness, excessive panting, and muscle tremors and seizures. Take an animal displaying these signs to a veterinarian immediately.
Macadamia Nuts: Though it’s not likely to be fatal, toxicosis from macadamia nuts can cause discomfort for 48 hours. Signs include weakness in rear legs, an appearance of pain, tremors, and a low-grade fever. Take animals experiencing more than mild symptoms to a veterinarian to get them intravenous fluid therapy and pain control.
Moldy Foods: Some molds produce toxins that cause serious or life-threatening problems if ingested by animals. Signs of poisoning include fine muscle tremors that progress to severe total-body tremors. In acute cases, tremors can progress to convulsions that can lead to death. Tremors can persist for several weeks, so take an animal experiencing them to a veterinarian for treatment.
Onions and Garlic: Shallots, onions, garlic, and scallions and all other close members of the onion family contain compounds that can damage an animal’s red blood cells. Signs of toxicosis don’t generally become apparent until 3-5 days after the toxin's been ingested. The affected animal may seem weak or reluctant to move or may appear to tire easily after mild exercise. Their urine may appear orange-tinged to dark red in color. Seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Xylitol: A non-caloric sweetener widely used in sugar-free gum and sugar-free baking products can lead to a rapid and severe drop in blood sugar levels in animals. Signs, such as disorientation and seizures, can develop within 30 minutes or be delayed several hours. Ingesting a large amount of xylitol can result in liver failure, which can be fatal. Seek veterinary treatment immediately.
This list is not exhaustive. In general, play it safe and stick to feeding your pet their food and not yours. That way everyone can enjoy game day - and cheer the Hawks to victory - safely!