Julie Rodger, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist
Pet Poison Helpline
The fall sports season is well on its way. No matter what your sport of choice, games are to be found every day of the week. Maybe you take your pets to watch your child’s game or you have friends over for viewing parties. One thing is for certain, these gatherings are not without hidden dangers for your pets. Read on to find out how to keep your pet safe so you can focus on the game!
Food: Whether at home or away, games involve food and snacks. It is important to set ground rules so that your pet is not receiving a constant offering of food from well-meaning friends. At PPH, we often receive calls where someone else gave a pet a snack, without realizing it was toxic. Chicken wings are a staple at games. Ingestion of the bones can lead to gastrointestinal upset, obstructions, and sometimes perforations. Other concerning foods are onions, garlic, grapes, macadamia nuts, and chocolate, to name a few. Curious pets may look through guests’ bags and find candy or gum containing xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in some sugar-free products. This can be toxic to dogs causing a decreased blood sugar or liver damage.
Beverages: It is easy to leave a drink unattended at a gathering. With a lot of activity occurring, drinks may even be bumped and spilled on the floor. Small amounts of alcoholic drinks may cause intoxication. Sodas, energy drinks, and coffee/tea also pose a risk for agitation and cardiac issues due to the caffeine content. It is important to keep all drinks secured and away from pets.
Loud noises: It is important to take into consideration whether your pet is used to the loud noises and energy that go along with sporting events. If attending a game or tailgate party, fireworks or firecrackers may frighten pets. Within the home, guests arriving, doorbells ringing, and general loud noises can be frightening for pets. Either of these can also create a scenario where a pet becomes frightened and runs off. It may be easiest to have them stay in a room away from the action where they can rest and be calm.
Trash: Curious noses will often go looking for anything that smells good. This can be scraps of food tossed in a parking lot or the household trash. Wrappers, toothpicks, fatty scraps, bones, and spoiled food are all risks.
Injuries: Taking pets to games may pose a risk if there are bleachers or places they can climb and fall. Pets should always be leashed and kept close. At home, recliners, chairs, or clumsy guests could also pose a risk for pets to become injured.
These dangers should not deter you from enjoying games with your pets. It may be helpful to take your pet for a walk prior to the event so they are tired and less likely to get into trouble or be worried about the commotion. You can give them a treat that will keep them busy for a while (e.g. Kong toys). Make sure the pet has access to its kennel or another safe space if the activity becomes too much. Setting ground rules for guests or strangers who approach your pet are also helpful and make sure any bags or purses are out of the pet’s reach. You can bring approved snacks with you or put out approved snacks for someone who wants to feed your pet. With a few precautions in place, you can safely enjoy the game.