Super Bowl Sunday ranks only behind Thanksgiving in terms of food consumption and the average Super Bowl party is attended by 17 people!
So, what this tells me is that on Sunday while the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are battling for football supremacy, there are going to be LOTS of plates of unattended food or platters filled with tempting things sitting on the edges of counters. While I could find no statistics for dogs related to the Super Bowl, I’m betting there is an increase in the number of emergencies at vets mostly related to dogs eating foods they shouldn’t.
A Super Bowl party has to rank as one of the worst things most dogs could attend. So, if you are hosting a party and you have dogs, pause between chopping the avocado and wrapping the weenies to think about the best plan of action for Fido.
While we all love our dog and want to show him off to our friends, many dogs actually aren’t party animals. While there are those dogs that thrive on constant attention and don’t care how many people fill a room, they are most likely the exception rather than the rule.
So, think about this: You have a room full of people and the normal places your dog likes to hang out are going to be taken. Suddenly half the room explodes in shouting and people jumping up screaming at the television. What is a dog to make of this? Some dogs may become scared and want to run and hide, but suddenly find their exits out of the room blocked by strangers waving plates of food and screaming. The dog may start barking, causing someone to miss the ever important instant replay and then someone absent mindedly reaches down to try and quiet the dog and gets bitten! While this probably doesn’t happen at every party, it is certainly within the realm of possibility. Your dog is dealing with a lot of stress. Or someone may actually yell at the dog to shut up, forgetting that the dog does not speak English and has no idea why people are jumping up and down and screaming. An ill-tempered friend whose team just did something he didn’t like could lash out at the dog.
But, maybe you own a bomb proof dog or one who just loves parties and being in the middle of the action. The Super Bowl party still may not be the safest environment. Dogs are opportunists. If they see an opportunity for food many of them will take it, no matter how great their training background is. After all, a plate of bacon-wrapped weenies sitting unattended at nose level must be meant for the dog right? Otherwise why would we have left it there? So, a well-meaning guest suddenly tries to save the plate of weenies only to be bitten by a dog that suddenly doesn’t want to give up such a great prize. Remember, many dogs don’t like to share, especially with strangers.
Then again, your dog may be bomb proof and he would never dream of guarding a plate of weenies from a human who wanted them back. But, what about taking the plate of weenies to the corner and eating them all while everyone is glued to the halftime show waiting to see if there will be a costume malfunction? Often hors d’oeuvres have toothpicks holding them together. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that your dog could eat the bacon wrapped weenies as fast as he can (certainly he has to eat fast because the room is full of other opportunists who may come for the weenies at any time). Nothing says a trip to the emergency vet more than a dog that eats a bunch of toothpicks.
Chicken wings are another staple of Super Bowl parties. Now, I feed my dogs raw food, including raw chicken. I give my dogs raw bones. But, I am NOT going to let my dog have cooked bones, especially tiny bones such as those from a chicken wing. They could splinter and hot and spicy barbecue sauce may cause the dog to burn his tongue or at least have severe tummy upset.
For the host and hostess of the Super Bowl Party, game day is going to be stressful. You will most likely be spending all day cleaning, cooking (or at least defrosting), etc. The dog may not get his customary walk or a much shortened walk. So, he is already going to be antsy before the people start arriving.
Game Day is NOT the day to decide you need to train your dog not to jump on everyone who comes in or bark at them. However, you might start training now for next year’s Super Bowl party. And if your dog has never worn clothes before, now is not the time to dress him up in your favorite team’s jersey.
And if your party includes kids under the age of 13, be sure and set some rules and be alert. Dogs are hard to resist for kids and if suddenly it is quiet and you wonder where the dog and kids have gone to, please go check it out. You don’t want to find Fido in the corner being covered by kisses from a well-meaning 5-year-old.
So, this has been a long list of scary scenarios and what not to do. What should you do with Fido? Well, if he loves people and isn’t stressed by a lot of stuff, let him come out and say hello. But, he might like it better if he was in a crate in a back room until after all the guests arrive. That way he isn’t stressed by the constant ringing of the doorbell and all the new people. He can come in after everyone is settled and say hello. Let your guests know they should NOT feed the dog a snack, no matter how sad the dog looks and believe me, your dog knows how to play a crowd. Perhaps you could give everyone a dog approved snack and let them feed that to the dog. Don’t make the dog do a trick for every treat though. Your guests aren’t saying please and thank you every time they grab a deviled egg. Just hand the dog a dog biscuit and let him enjoy himself.
If the game is tense and lots of people are jumping up and down, your dog may wish to go back to his crate and chill out. Give him something to do. This is the place for a great raw bone, a Kong stuffed with treats (and frozen to make it last longer) or an elk antler. You want something that is fun and will last a long time.
Remember, if there is really a wardrobe malfunction at halftime, it will be replayed. So, take Fido for a quick walk to relieve some of his stress. Or maybe go outside for a quick game of fetch.
Remind guests that your dog may not be above stealing and to keep a close watch on their plates. Keep your food trays well back on the counter to prevent counter surfing or keep them in the oven or the refrigerator and ask guests to just go an extra step in getting their snacks. 7-11 stores report a 20 percent increase in the sale of antacids on the day after the Super Bowl. You will be the one cleaning up after your dog if he over indulges. Cleaning up dog puke while you have a hangover the next day won’t be fun.
And after the game is over, and the guests have gone, take the toothpick out of the bacon-wrapped weenie and give the weenie to the dog. He earned it. And if you are one of the six percent of Americans who call in sick on the Monday after the Super Bowl, give your dog some extra TLC.