Keeping your dog safe on St. Patrick’s Day can be a challenge, especially if you live in a big city. As a Chicago native who enjoys a green beer or two and who refuses to leave my dog behind on any adventure, I’ve had to figure out some guidelines for bringing Chewie (my dog) along for St. Paddy’s shenanigans. Here are a few things to keep mind if you plan on bringing your pup to the party.
- Remember that the #1 danger to your dog is intoxicated humans.
Here’s the thing about drunk people: while they’re not often mean, they are usually very friendly. They get excited. They’re in party mode. So when the guy who’s had five Irish Car Bombs spots a cute puppy, he’s probably going to be really excited about petting her.
That’s dangerous. There’s a right way and a wrong way to greet a dog you don’t know, and drunk humans usually break all the rules. That can be scary, and when a dog gets scared, nervous energy might manifest as aggression, which is no fun for anyone (especially your dog).
Tip: Put distance between intoxicated people and your dog when you can. If you can’t, put yourself between them. In practice, that might mean intercepting an overly enthusiastic partygoer with a high-five, or it might mean simply crossing the street.
- Beware of toxic food that seems harmless.
Do you know what will happen to your dog if she accidentally drinks beer? Do you know if your dog can eat bananas? What about hot dogs? What if that hot dog has onions on it?
St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday of bar snacks and street food. As the day rolls on, parade routes slowly fill with toppled funnel cakes and discarded, half-eaten hot dogs. If you don’t know what your dog can and can’t eat, it’s easy to wind up with a very sick puppy (and I can tell you from first-hand experience veterinarians charge a pretty penny to pump a dog’s stomach).
Of course, the best course of action is to simply keep a close eye on your dog and not let her eat anything at all. However, if you want to let her indulge in a few small human snacks, make sure they’re safe—here’s a list of common people foods and whether or not they’re toxic for dogs. Just be sure not to go overboard.
Tip: You can also take a pouch of dog treats with you. That way, your dog doesn’t have to be left out, and you’ll know for sure she’s not eating anything toxic.
- Don’t dye your dog’s fur.
By and large, hair dye is made for humans, and, while there are some dyes made for dogs, none have yet been endorsed by professional veterinary organizations.
Human hair dyes contain chemicals that are harmful to dogs, and dyes with bleaching agents can be particularly dangerous. The rule of thumb is to not take the risk.
Tip: If you absolutely must dye your pup’s fur, try using something like Kool-Aid, which is mostly just sugar and washes out at the end of the day
- Make sure your dog has up-to-date tags and microchips.
No one wants to lose a dog, especially on a day as crazy as St. Patrick’s Day. If the worst happens, already having safety protocols in place can go a long way toward getting your puppy home safely.
Just cover the basics: make sure your dog’s tags include her name, an updated address and your current phone number. Your dog should also be microchipped, so if she is lost and taken to a shelter, they can scan the chip and return her to you.
Tip: Don’t just hold your dog’s leash. It’s simply too easy to fumble in the chaos of a packed parade area while you’re trying to pay for a lemonade. Run the leash through a belt loop once or twice as well. That way, if you do happen to slip, you’ve got an extra layer of security.
- It’s okay to leave Fido at home.
We all love our dogs, and it’s fun to share adventures with our furry companions. However, not every dog is cut out for large crowds, lots of noise and the inevitable conga line of partygoers trying to pet them.
Don’t force your pup to party if she’s not up to it. She’ll be perfectly fine at home surrounded by chew toys.
Tip: If you’re going to be out and about all day, you’ll need someone to watch your dog, and it can be tough to find a dog sitter on a holiday. Instead, consider boarding your dog for the day. Most doggy daycares prepare specifically for an influx of pups during party-type holidays.