8 game day party foods that are dangerous to pets

Yellow Labrador playing football with man in yard | Tailgate foods that are dangerous for pets
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jan 08 2018

Updated October 1, 2019

There are few things more enjoyable than gathering with friends and family to watch football on the weekend. But while you plan your football party menu, keep your four-legged fans in mind. Many of the foods (and drinks!) that are synonymous with the big game could spell trouble for pets. Nothing will spoil halftime like having to rush your pet to the emergency room!

8 party treats that are hazardous for your pet:

1. Alcohol

Football and beer seem to go hand in hand, but unattended drinks might find their way into little paws. Alcohol packs a punch for our curious critters, both because of their smaller size and pets' reduced ability to metabolize alcohol. Keep your eye out for unattended drinks within your pet’s reach.

2. Chicken Wings

It’s really not a football party without a platter of chicken wings, and for dogs, it’s just too tempting to pass up. Spicy chicken wings can easily do a number on your pet’s gastrointestinal system, causing vomiting and diarrhea, but those little bones pose their own threat.

Cooked bones are brittle and can splinter easily. They can puncture your pet’s mouth, stomach or intestines. Bones can also pose a foreign body threat once they pass into the intestine, especially in smaller dogs. Avoid a big dog insurance claim and keep bones at bay. 

3. Chips and Dip

There’s usually nothing toxic about chips and dip (unless your dip contains garlic or onions), but these snack foods are loaded with fat. Diarrhea or vomiting can occur with any change in diet, but bingeing on fatty foods can also lead to pancreatitis, especially in breeds that are predisposed, like Schnauzers.

While a big dog is less likely to develop pancreatitis after a small fatty snack, little dogs might overindulge and find themselves with more than a post-party tummy ache.

4. Onion Rings

Those crunchy, golden rings of goodness are a party staple, but onions and garlic are toxic to pets. If consumed in large enough quantities, snacks in the onion family can cause red blood cell damage and destruction, leading to life-threatening anemia.

5. Macadamia Nuts

Parties tend to bring out the nut in all of us, but if your nut bowl contains macadamia nuts, be sure to keep it out of your pet’s reach. Macadamia nuts are a relatively new and unknown toxin to dogs. Signs of macadamia nut toxicity include weakness, tremors, abdominal pain and an elevated temperature. There is no exact dose that is toxic, so do your best to avoid them altogether.



6. Guacamole

Avocados contain a toxin called persin, which is toxic to some pet birds, but not to dogs and cats. And while avocados are high in fat, the real threat to pet health has to do with the pit. If ingested, the avocado pit can become lodged in the intestinal tract, causing a life-threatening obstruction. Even big dogs will have trouble passing a large avocado pit safely.

Once your avocados are turned into guacamole, you still need to be vigilant. Guacamole, while delicious, is chock-full of those pesky onions and garlic we’ve already mentioned.

7. Appetizers with toothpicks

Bacon wrapped anything will be a huge draw at your party – for both two- and four-legged football fans! Those little balls of deliciousness will likely have a toothpick holding them together, and when your pooch pops the whole thing in his mouth, the toothpick will go down the hatch, too. Toothpicks are sharp and pose a puncture threat to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.

8. Grapes

Not all football party food is fatty – sometimes we need to cleanse our palate with a healthy dose of fruit. If your fruit platter contains grapes, keep a close eye on it. Grapes and raisins both pose a serious health risk to your pet, wreaking havoc on the kidneys.

Now, because no game day party would be complete without these tempting snacks, I’d never ask you to forego them. Instead, just keep a close eye on unattended cups and plates. Or, better yet, find a safe spot for your pet to chill during your party. With all the hooting and hollering that a party brings, your four-legged sports fan would probably be happier in the peace and quiet of a bedroom, anyway.