It’s that time of year for America’s favorite pastime – football games and tailgating with friends and family, including furry family members. When including your dog in your fun tailgate festivities, follow these seven helpful tips below to ensure that your pooch stays safe and comfortable.
1. Make sure the venue is pet-friendly
Check out the tailgate venue ahead of time to make sure it is pet-friendly. Not all sports venues allow dogs, even in their parking lots. The exception to the rule is service and therapy pets. According to the American Disabilities Act, it is prohibited for sports facilities to discriminate against individuals with disabilities who require assistance from trained and certified service animals.*
2. Don’t leave dogs outside or locked inside vehicles
If you plan to tailgate and then attend the game, keep your dog safe by leaving him at home. If your pet is tied up on a leash outside, the loud, roaring crowd can scare him and cause him to break his leash and run away. Leaving your pet inside a hot car or RV is also very dangerous. On a 78 degree day, the interior of the vehicle can climb to 100 to 120 in just minutes and during hotter days, the inside temperature can reach up to 160 degrees.**
3. Keep human food and alcohol away from dogs
Even though it’s tempting to share your tasty treats with your pet, human food – including alcohol and caffeinated beverages, are dangerous to dogs. While you’re enjoying your tailgating feast, give him special doggy treats so he isn’t tempted to sniff around and search out human food. The foods listed below can cause health problems and make dogs very ill.
• Onions and garlic – which are often used in side dishes and salads
• Vegetables – such as avocado, broccoli and mushrooms
• Herbs and spices – including chives and nutmeg
• Spicy food
• Milk & dairy products
4. Bring along pet supplies, including food and water
If you attend a tailgate party all day, pack plenty of supplies for your dog. Bring enough food and water for the day, and don’t forget his food and water bowls. Pets, like humans, can dehydrate easily so make sure he drinks plenty of water throughout the day (especially in warm weather). For your pooch’s comfort, bring his favorite cozy blanket or travel bed so he can rest throughout the day.
5. Dress your dog in your favorite team’s sportswear
Make your dog the tailgate party mascot by dressing him in your favorite team colors. Tie a colorful bandana around this neck or get him a collar in the team colors. Another fun mascot idea is to dress him up in a cute doggy sports jersey. For cold weather, bring along a doggy jacket or sweater to keep your pup warm.
6. Clean up after your pet
Be a responsible pet owner and take pet waste bags with you to the tailgate. Use only designated areas (such as grass or dirt areas) for your dog’s bathroom breaks. Clean up after your pet and throw out waste bags in the appropriate trash receptacles.
7. Supervise your dog at all times
When tailgating, the last thing you want to do is to chase after your dog in a huge, noisy crowd. Tailgating often takes place in parking lots and can be a hazardous environment for pets. To keep your dog safe, keep him on a sturdy leash and supervise him at all times, especially around hot, BBQ grills and human food and alcohol.
By Therese Pope, a California-based freelance writer for Pets Best. Pets Best has been offering pet health insurance plans to dogs and cats across the U.S. since 2005.