Tips for Keeping Pets Safe During the Super Bowl

Each February, millions of sports fans join together to celebrate the year’s most anticipated football game: The Super Bowl®. However, with attention drawn to the game, commercials, half-time show and snacking, it is easy to overlook potential dangers for pets.

Kevin Kelley, DVM, Senior Emergency Clinician at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Clearwater, Fla., shares a few useful tips to ensure your pets are safe and secure this Super Bowl® Sunday.

Super Bowl® celebrations are lots of fun for us, and usually our pets, but do include some unusual dangers or risks. Primarily we see cases of dietary indiscretion with intentional or accidental feeding of people food to pets resulting in gastroenteritis, pancreatitis and gastrointestinal foreign bodies,” Dr. Kelley explained.

“Vomiting and diarrhea Sunday night and the following day are the most likely result.  We also see a lot of anxiety related injuries between pets that may normally get along, but when food and excitement is added to the mix, fights occur, stress related diarrhea, and other problems area seen.  Most of these are preventable with planning for your pet’s needs as well as your guests.”

Follow These Do’s and Don’ts This Super Bowl® Sunday


  1. Keep some treats aside. Football snacks like chicken wings, pizza, potato chips, creamy dips, and salsa can cause serious health concerns for pets—and guests usually do not know your pet’s specific dietary restrictions. Avoid any snack mishaps by having a bowl of your pet’s treats handy, and let your guests know they are there to give to your four-legged friend.
  2. Keep beverages out of paws’ reach. Super Bowl® parties often include adult beverages. Pets can easily lap up alcoholic beverages while guests cheer around the television or catch up with a friend. Take glass, beer cans, and plastic cups with you as you go and properly dispose of them once finished.
  3. Secure a safe, quiet place. Consider keeping your pet in a safe, quiet space, such as a bedroom. This is particularly important if you know your pet is sensitive to loud noises (like cheering after a touchdown) or changes in routine. Have a discussion with your veterinarian about calming routines as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications for a more holistic approach. 
  4. Clean up as you go. Plates, utensils, and waste should immediately be picked up and thrown away. If you know your dog is inclined to rummage through waste, keep the garbage in a secure place like inside a cabinet or outside in a garbage can.
  5. Watch the front door. As guests come and go, pets are given opportunities to slip out and can possibly get lost or hit by a car. If your pet is joining in on the fun, make sure you regularly check up on them and equip them with a collar and up-to-date ID. Consider microchipping your pet to ensure a safe return home if they become lost.


  1. Let your pet get into snacks or be fed by guests. Many “big game” foods that are safe for humans can cause stomach upset and, potentially, pancreatitis in pets. Foods that can sicken dogs include guacamole, salsa, caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, foods containing onions, garlic, potatoes, grapes/raisins, chocolate, and sugar-free gum containing xylitol. If your pet ingests any food containing any of these toxic ingredients, Dr. Kelley recommends contacting a poison control hotline immediately. Two good options, which do have a small cost associated with them, are the Pet Poison Helpline at 1 (844) 492-9842 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 1 (888) 426-4435. This may save you a trip to the emergency room or help guide a more effective treatment if you do.
  2. Leave out chip bags. Let’s face it; chips are irresistible to both people, and pets! Lured by the prospect of a salty treat, dogs and cats will eagerly put their heads inside of a chip bag (or other snack items), and as the pet inhales, the bag will tighten. In less than five minutes, the pet can suffocate to death. Thoroughly cut up chip and other snack item bags before disposing of them.
  3. Forget about the day after. The Monday after the game is another day pets can consume foreign or toxic items dropped on the floor by partygoers. If some clean-up duties are left to the following day, at minimum, make sure floors and low counters are cleaned of left-behind snacks, drinks, and items that may be harmful to your pet if consumed or gotten into.
  4. Leave personal items out. With both friends and family attending Super Bowl® parties, it is not surprising that guests will bring personal items along with them. Leaving jackets and purses out gives curious pets opportunities to ingest something foreign or toxic, like perfume, makeup, or over-the-counter or prescription pills. Keep personal items on high shelves or counters or in a secure room that is inaccessible to pets.

One Eye on the Game, the Other on the Pet

While you are rooting for your team this Super Bowl® Sunday, remember to follow these tips to keep pets safe and out of the emergency room. If you think your pet has consumed something toxic and/or they are showing signs of illness, Dr. Kelley urges pet owners not to wait to seek help.

Watch for hiding, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea in pets during and after the party. Check on them periodically during the gathering to reassure them and to make sure they are staying out of trouble,” Dr. Kelley said.

“If any problems are seen, don’t wait until the game is over, get them seen immediately as time matters and waiting can make a difference in a simple outpatient treatment or expensive hospitalization visit.”