By Dr. Tiffany L Bierer, Scientific Affairs Manager
It’s fun to have friends and family together for a picnic, holiday celebration or the big game. One preparation that may be overlooked, though, is pet safety when entertaining. With new people, sights and sounds – as well as many foods and beverages – there are multiple ways for pets to get into trouble.
Here are eight tips to help keep pets safe…
1. Get off to a good start
If pets appear agitated or frightened on party day, it may be better to crate them, at least temporarily. Keep them in a safe, controlled space until people have arrived, the doorbell has stopped ringing and the noise level has moderated.
2. Be cautious with people food
Many party foods can be toxic to pets, including onions, grapes, garlic, alcohol, caffeinated beverages, chocolate, avocados, diet foods (containing artificial sweeteners) and many nuts. Bones are also a danger because they can cause blockages or perforations if eaten. Keep human foods and snacks out of reach! Instead, have pet-appropriate snacks on hand like GREENIES™ treats for dogs and TEMPTATIONS™ treats for cats.
3. Talk with guests about pet safety when entertaining
Let your guests know there are pets in the house, in case they have allergies or are afraid of animals. This is also a good time to tell guests you take pet safety seriously! Let them know you don’t want your pets to eat people food or beverages during the party. Here’s another resource about pets and food safety.
4. Watch the noise level – your neighbors will thank you too
Pets can be frightened by loud sounds, so watch the noise level at your party. If your pet becomes agitated with loud noises, keep him or her in a secure room away from the activity. Leaving a radio or TV on in that room may help to reduce stress and mask noise.
5. Keep pets out of party waste
Have covered trashcans around for your guests. Remind them to throw paper plates, cups and napkins away, rather than leaving them on tables or chairs. Non-disposable tableware should be brought to your kitchen sink or counter. Another part of pet safety when entertaining is periodically walking around the house to gather waste materials that may not have been disposed of properly.
6. Create a safe space where pets feel secure
Make sure your dog or cat’s bed or crate is accessible, so they have a place to relax or hide out if they start to get overwhelmed. Cats will generally seek out a safe hiding place on their own. Not sure if your dog is unhappy? Download our Happy Pet Handbook (PDF) for pictures of different dog body language and what it means.
7. Appoint a “pet watcher” to help you keep an eye on pets
We all have at least one friend who adores our pet. Maybe she wants a dog but doesn’t have one yet. Or maybe he’s known your cat as long as he’s known you. Choose an adult you trust and ask that person to help as a pet watcher during the party. They can help make sure pets don’t eat what they shouldn’t, get into trouble or accidently get outside.
8. End the party on a good, safe note
As the party is winding down and people are getting ready to leave, put your pet back in his or her crate or in a secure room. This will help keep him or her from following people out the door. To be safe, though, all pets should be microchipped, in case they somehow get outside unnoticed. This video from the American Veterinary Medical Association gives a great explanation of the importance of microchips.
A little planning goes a long way to helping keep pets safe any time you entertain. We hope these tips help. Have a great time!
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