Tailgate Alert: Keeping Your Furry Friends Safe Amidst the Festivities


Hello, fellow pet lovers! Tailgating season is upon us, bringing with it the excitement of game days and outdoor feasts. As you gear up for fun-filled gatherings, it’s important to remember that some tailgate food and drinks can pose serious risks to our four-legged companions. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the potential dangers that tailgate treats can pose to our cats and dogs, and share tips to ensure their safety while you enjoy the festivities.

The Chocolate Conundrum:

As you indulge in chocolate treats, remember that chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs. Theobromine and caffeine, naturally present in chocolate, can lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, and even seizures. So, stash your chocolate goodies out of your pets’ reach.

Say No to Alcohol:

While you enjoy refreshing drinks, it’s essential to steer clear of sharing alcohol with your pets. Even small amounts can lead to intoxication, causing disorientation, low blood glucose, and breathing difficulties. Keep drinks unattended and out of their reach to prevent any mishaps.

Fatty Foods and Pancreatitis:

Rich, fatty foods like grilled meats and greasy snacks might be tempting to share, but they can trigger pancreatitis in pets. This painful condition can lead to vomiting, abdominal pain, and severe discomfort. Death has occurred in severely affected animals as well.  Stick to pet-friendly treats and avoid those high-fat indulgences.

Beware of Bones:

While tossing a chicken wing to your pup might seem harmless, cooked bones can splinter and cause choking hazards or digestive tract injuries. Be cautious about handing out bones, and opt for safer treats instead.

Dangerous Grapes and Raisins:

With autumn comes a variety of fruits, but grapes and raisins should never make their way into your pets’ stomach. These seemingly harmless snacks can lead to kidney failure, a life-threatening condition that’s best avoided altogether.

Spicy and Seasoned Dishes:

Spices like onions, garlic, and certain herbs can be toxic to pets, leading to digestive upset and even damage to their red blood cells. Keep dishes plain and simple when sharing with your furry companions.

Xylitol’s Hidden Threat:

As you reach for sugar-free snacks, be cautious of products containing xylitol, a sugar substitute. This sweetener is highly toxic to dogs and can lead to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, seizures, and even liver failure.

Proper Trash Disposal:

Dispose of your tailgate trash securely, as leftover food, bones, and wrappers can all be enticing to curious pets. These items can lead to choking hazards, digestive issues, toxins from moldy foods, and often require emergency veterinary care.

In Conclusion:

Tailgate parties are all about fun and enjoyment, but ensuring the safety of our furry companions is of utmost importance. By being aware of the potential dangers that tailgate food and drinks can pose to our cats and dogs, we can take proactive steps to prevent accidents or health issues. Keep their treats separate, offer pet-friendly snacks, and ensure drinks and leftovers are out of their reach. With vigilance, we can create a tailgating experience that’s enjoyable for everyone – humans and pets alike!


Written by:

Pet Poison Helpline DVM student extern, IOWA State College of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2024